If my employer and I sign on an agreed pay raise then they come back the next day and say they cant give me the full raise is that legal?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If my employer and I sign on an agreed pay raise then they come back the next day and say they cant give me the full raise is that legal?

I got a job review recently and it went great,
they gave me a 1.20 raise. Both my boss and
I signed a paper and agreed on the raise then
the next day my boss said he could only give
me 1.00 due to corporate policies. I said but
we signed on it and he said well he didnt
know that I had gotten a dollar raise six months
prior and there is a two dollar per year limit
which I had met is this legal even though we
signed that document?

Asked on December 23, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the paper you signed was an actual employment contract which guaranteed you a certain pay (e.g. with the $1.20 raise) for a *defined or set period of time*, such as one-year contract, the employer is obligated to pay you the amount in the contract; if the employer does not, you could sue for "breach of contract" to enforce the terms of the contract.
But because employment in this country is "employment at will" except to the extent changed by contract, if the paper did not lock in or guaranty the wage for a set period of time, the employer could change it "at will," or at any time. An agreement to give you a raise or pay a certain amount which is not for a given period of time is effectively not enforceable, since in that event, the employer could whenever it wanted--even immediately--change or reduce your pay. So if you did not have a written contract for this amount of pay for a certain period of time, the employer could go back on its promise.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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