Is this legal in California?

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Is this legal in California?

I work as a chauffeur in San Diego county. I am paid hourly, plus a 15% gratuity which is clearly stated in the jobs which are emailed to me. I must reply to the emails to accept the jobs. Problem is , they short payed me on one of the gratuities and claimed that amount is subject to change even after I accept the emailed job and begin it. I feel that the email is essentially a contract and that number can’t change without my permission.

Asked on October 19, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

They can change it on notice before you earn the compensation, unless you had an actual written employment contract locking it in for a set or defined period of time (e.g. a one-year contract). But it can't be changed retroactively without prior notice.
Examples: 
1) They told you on Monday morning that your gratuity is down to 10%; that is legal from that moment forward. They can make the change if you did not have a written contract as described above
2) You worked Monday night, earning a 15% gratuity, but they only paid you 10% and said only after the fact that it was changed--that's illegal, because you keep earning at the agreed upon rate until they tell you it is being changed, and all work done before notice of the change is at the agreed upon rate. In this case, you could in theory sue them for the extra money, but whether it would be economically worthwhile to sue for the amount at stake is a different story.


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