Is it legal for an employer for whom I have worked consistently 30-40 hours per week, to demand I take a cut in pay in order to keep my current amount of hours?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for an employer for whom I have worked consistently 30-40 hours per week, to demand I take a cut in pay in order to keep my current amount of hours?

I am an occupational therapist. I have worked for the same healthcare company for 10 years. Several years ago I was offered the option of vacation and healthcare benefits, however since I get benefits from my husband’s employer, I opted for a higher rate of pay. I have been told I need to go to the benefited rate which is $3.00 per hour less than I currently make or risk having someone hired who will work for less money to take my place. I told my employer no mainly because my market rate is below the median for someone in my position so I believed that they wouldn’t find anyone to replace me. Plus, I have been a valuable worker all these years, I pass all my audits, have the highest staff productivity and fill in as assistant director when my boss is on vacation. However, the company has hired a new graduate from out of state to start tomorrow. Once I train her, I will not have a job. Is this legal?

Asked on October 18, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It is unfair, but it is legal, unless you have a written employment contract whose terms protect you in this situation. Otherwise, without a written employment contract, you are an employee at will: an employer may change (e.g. reduce) the pay of an employee at will, or terminate them, at any time, for any reason, regardless of how good the employee is or how unfair the reason.

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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