My employer reduced my paycheck by 330 for the last two pay checks. They did not notify me. I just figured it out today when I looked at my bank account. Can they do that?

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My employer reduced my paycheck by 330 for the last two pay checks. They did not notify me. I just figured it out today when I looked at my bank account. Can they do that?

I am a welder. We got slow on welding so they put me in brazing. I did not agree to
permanently be a brazer but did it temporarily until welding picked up. Now all of a
sudden my pay checks are 330 less. No notice. No one else has been reduced
that I know of. I have been very patient. I’m thinking I should have left when they
looked the other way on the multiple complaints of harassment. They still do. I’m
just beside myself. Very upset and disappointed.

Asked on April 30, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If they had notified you, they could have cut your pay like this (so long as you were still making at least minimum wage), assuming that you do not have a written employment or union contract setting your wage (if you do, they have to obey it): without a contract, you are an employee at will, and an employer may change an employee at will's pay at any time.
BUT the change is only effective from when you were notified forward: once you get notice, if you keep working despite the pay change, you are deemed to have consented or agreed to it. But they can't retroactively change your pay for work already done before they notified you of the pay cut, because without notice, you were still working pursuant to the prior understanding or oral (or implied) agreement as to your wages.
Now that you know that you pay is reduced, the reduction is legal. But as to any pay reductions before you aware of the change: that is not legal, and they have to pay you at your then-current rate. You could potentially file a wage and hour complaint with the labor department and/or sue (e.g. in small claims court) for the money. Obviously, taking legal action against your employer is a drastic step: before acting, consider whether the amount at issue is worth doing this.


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