Is it legal for a company to reduce someone’s pay and then give it back to them as a raise?

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Is it legal for a company to reduce someone’s pay and then give it back to them as a raise?

I was given a bump in pay to go to another branch office in the state. I was there for a year and then the company wanted to move me back to the headquarters office. During this time I was discussing a raise with my supervisor. I was granted the raise but it came with some stipulations. The first part of the raise was to take affect immediately. I did not see the pay increase in my check so I began to inquire. Finally after weeks of back and forth my supervisor took me aside. He let me know that the company decided that because they moved me back to headquarters they took away the pay bump that they had given me about a year ago but gave it back to me.

Asked on August 10, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The answer, unfortunately, is that if you did not have a written employment contract guarantying your pay or the raise, then you had no right to it--without an employment contract, all employment is "employment at will," which means, among other things, that your employer may deny or take back raises or change (including reduce) your pay at any time, even after having promised you a raise or pay increase. So without an employment contract, your employer can do this. (If you had a written employment contract and this violates the plain terms of the contract, you could sue your employer for breach of contract to get the money you'd been contractually guaranteed.)

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The answer, unfortunately, is that if you did not have a written employment contract guarantying your pay or the raise, then you had no right to it--without an employment contract, all employment is "employment at will," which means, among other things, that your employer may deny or take back raises or change (including reduce) your pay at any time, even after having promised you a raise or pay increase. So without an employment contract, your employer can do this. (If you had a written employment contract and this violates the plain terms of the contract, you could sue your employer for breach of contract to get the money you'd been contractually guaranteed.)


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