Company says pay raise on signed document is a "mistake."

I signed a letter acknowledging a pay raise of what was verbally expressed as $0.50. However, the document (signed by the executive director and myself) listed my pay increase at what would equate to roughly $2.50. I have a copy of this signed and dated document printed on company stationary.

I am now told that this was simply a mistake and I need to accept the lower pay rate. Is there any obligation on the company's part to honor payrate noted on the original signed document?

Thank you for any guidance you may have.

1 answer  |  asked Nov 27, 2001 12:16 AM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Phantom Pay Raise Disappears

I'm sorry to tell you that you are probably out of luck. Just because a document is in writing and signed, it doesn't automatically become an enforceable contract. I assume that you have no written contract of employment that protects you from an at will termination. Most people who work in the private sector are "at will" employees. For this reason, the written agreement you have setting your pay is not really enforceable beyond the brief period during which you may have worked under it. I assume that if you press the company to honor it, they will simply terminate your employment, and then perhaps offer you your old job at the rate of pay they intended all along. Of course, being an at-will employee you are free to quit over the employer's refusal to honor the commitment, if in fact they really made the commitment in the first place. If it really was a typographical error or a clerical mistake of some kind, you are the one who is trying to gain an advantage on account of the error. Would you consider it fair for your employer to hold you to a mistake you made if the situation were reversed?
If, on the other hand, you gave up something or committed to some new obligation in return for the promised raise, the legal analysis would be different, and you might have a claim. An attorney would need to know what led to the promise of the raise, how it was determined, how the mistake was made and other facts in order to fully evaluate the case. I suggest you consult with a competent employment attorney (there are a number of them in Tucson).

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Nov 27, 2001 4:25 PM [EST]

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