Is it legal for a company to change the terms of an employment letter after you have started working?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for a company to change the terms of an employment letter after you have started working?

The original letter states this is an non-exempt position and overtime pay is authorized. When I was asked to work over 40 hours, I inquired about overtime and was told that my offer letter was incorrect. At that time, the HR Manager presented me a new offer letter that stated I was exempt. Is this legal?

Asked on November 19, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

An offer letter is not actually a contract--it is just a way of outlining what the *current* terms of the position are. Since it's not a contract, it doesn't bind the employer; the employer may change the job description, compensation (e.g. amount and whether hourly or salaried), etc. at will. So even if the job was non-exempt before, it can be made into an exempt position--BUT it must meet the criteria to be exempt from overtime. You can find those criteria on the U.S. Department of Labor website and compare to our job; if your job does not fit the criteria to be exempt, then it is still non-exempt; and, if so, if you don't receive overtime, you could file a complaint with your state or the federal Department of Labor.

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