Is it legal and acceptable for an employer to promote a position with promise of pay increase that was not an available position in the first place?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal and acceptable for an employer to promote a position with promise of pay increase that was not an available position in the first place?

And is it legal for my first and second in command to target me to get me out of the company? I have been lied to and used to do the job of ADON for 7 months that was never presented to the board for approval until just recently. I was told that I would be rotating on call, salaried, and given a raise. I did not receive a

raise, however I’ve been expected to be on call every 3rd weekend without

compensation. I questioned several times about the position and raise promised but got no reasonable answer. The administrator finally requested a raise from the board, however the board had no idea that I was placed in the position and, what’s more, there was no budget for the position. Since the board has been made aware of my position, my supervisor and our administrator have targeted me, threatened my employment within the company twice, and made the work environment so oppressive and unbearable that I have had to resign from my job. I have 1 week left. I do not want to leave. Is this behavior from an employer acceptable and legal?

Asked on October 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Acceptable? No. But legal? Unfortunately yes.
An employer can promise a raise or promotion then renege on it, unless there was a written contract for  the raise or promotion, because all employment, when there is no written contract, is "employment at will," which means (among other things) that the employer may change title, level, job duties or responsibilities, pay, etc. at will--at any time, for any reason, without being held accountable to what was previously done or promised.
And employers can similarly add to or change an employee's responsibilities without owing them any extra pay for it, because again, the employer unillaterally determines what the job consists of and the compensation for it.
Employer can also make jobs oppressive and unbearable in the hopes that employees will quit, and this, too, is legal: the law does not require fair, humane, decent, or professional treatment of employees.

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 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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