Is significantly changing my pay rateafter hiring me legal?

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Is significantly changing my pay rateafter hiring me legal?

In my interview, the hiring manager said he would probably be able to pay me $10.75 and hour but once I was hired he told me it would have to be $10 so I accepted it and stayed. However, the other day (3 weeks later), he told me he had not been authorized to hire me in at that rate and the HR Department said they would have to drop my pay to $9 and hour. Can they do this? Doesn’t hiring me constitute some sort of binding agreement especially since the $10 was on my paperwork? If I cause an issue with it, can they legally terminate my employment?

Asked on October 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

For a definitive answer, you need to review the any paper presented to you (e.g. an offer letter) and the circumstances with an attorney. Some general principals to bear in mind:

1) Generally, an employer *may* change pay rate at will, unless specifically prevented from doing so by a contract or by promissory estoppel.

2) For there to be a contract, there must have been an offer to you, which you accepted, and also consideration--such as taking the job. However, it is also necessary that, for this purpose, that the offer include some time or performance element: i.e. that your pay will $10.00 per hour for a year; that you will paid $10.00 an hour as long as you meet certain performance goals; etc. Otherwise, if there is no term in the


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