Is it legal for a company to pay transferred employees less than their existing employees after an acquisition?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for a company to pay transferred employees less than their existing employees after an acquisition?

One of the companies I work for recently sold to another company in the same field. All non-exempt employees in my position are being transferred to the new company and were told we will be staying at our current, minimum wage, pay rate. The company we will be working for has a starting wage that is around $4 per hour higher than our currrent rate of pay for the exact same scope of work with all the same requirements and expectations. Is it legal for them to acquire us as their employees, have us fill out all the same new hire paperwork and applications as anyone else would but not pay us what their usual starting wage would be?

Asked on January 7, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Absent some form of legally actionable discrimination (that is unfavorable treatment due to race, relgion, age (over 40), disability, etc.), not all employees need be treated the same or even fairly. The fact is that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. So unless you have protection under the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, you have no claim here.

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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