Is it legal for my employer to not pay me my promised hourly rate?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for my employer to not pay me my promised hourly rate?

I have an issue with my current employer. After serving as a paid intern for 3 months I was given a new NY Pay Notice Non-Exempt form detailing my pay increase from $11/hr to 15/hr, which I promptly signed and returned. However, my following paycheck did not reflect my pay increase and I was told that I was not an official project Coordinator but rather a project Coordinator in training. Therefore, I will receive $13/hr and $19.50 overtime pay until another 3 months have passed. Then they will re-evaluate me to see that I am up

to par to be an official project Coordinator. Unfortunately, none of this information was told to me prior to becoming an intern or signing the updated NY Pay Notice form stating that my pay will be $15/hr. Is it legal for them to not pay me the full hourly rate that I signed for?

Asked on August 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal. Unless you had an actual written employment contract for a defined or specified period of time, which period has not yet expired (e.g. an unexpired one-year contract), which contract guaranteed you a certain pay, your pay is 100% under the control of your employer under the doctrine of "employment at will" and they may  reduce, change, etc. your pay at any time, without prior notice. The employer sets pay when there is no contract, and they can renege or go back on prior promises.

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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