Is this legal?

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Is this legal?

Well, i’m currently employed at lets say ‘7-11’. I live in Greenville, South
Carolina. I have been there for 3 years. I noticed a shortage on my pay, so upon
further inspection. I found out that I had been demoted, and pay had been dropped
from 10 an hour to 8.65 an hour. Upon asking about these changes, I was told
‘sorry’ and that they would ‘raise’ my pay to 9.00 an hour. My manager then told
me she would add 6 hours to each pay check that i did NOT work to make amends. Is
this legal?

Asked on December 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes demotions and/or wage reductions, so long as no union agreement/employment contract is violated, and so long as no discrimination/retaliation plays a role. This is known as "at will" employment. That having been said, a pay cut can only legally go into effect for future work to be performed, not for work already completed. In other words, there can be no retroactive cut in pay. To the extent that there was, you can either file a wage claim with your state's department of labor and/or sue for past wages owed in small claims court.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Your employer may demote you and/or reduce your pay at any time, for any reason, without prior warning, unless you have a written employment contract to the contrary. But the change is only effective from when you are provided notice of it forward; they can't pay you less for work already done before they told you of the reduction. Unless they make up the shortfall for the period before you were aware of the demotion/pay cut, you could sue for the difference or look to file a complaint with the state department of labor. If the do make up that shortfall in one way or another, you have no claim, and again, any demotion, etc. can be put into effect from the moment you are told of it forward.


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