Pay Cut for No Reason

As of this morning, my wages have been cut by 1/3. This has been done for no other reason than I make more than the other people in my department. I have been with my current employer for over 2 years. I was asked to take my current position over a year ago (a lateral move) with the assurance that I would not have my pay cut. This assurance came from the Director of Human Resources.

Do I have any recourse against my employer for this? My salary reviews have resulted in salary increases every time, including one raise while in my current position.

1 answer  |  asked Apr 16, 2002 03:21 AM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Pay cut doesn't give you recourse

I'm afraid there isn't much you can do about the pay cut. I assume that you are an "at will" employee, which most private sector employees are. Unless you have a written contract that says otherwise, you can be terminated at any time with or without cause. Thus, your employer can reduce your pay, since that is nothing more than terminating you and employing you with different terms. Your only recourse would have to be based upon something that would amount to a wrongful termination or some form of unlawful discrimination. For example, if you were the only male and your pay was reduced to match that of your female counterparts, that action would violate the Equal Pay Act, because that law, while it requires pay equity between men and women, does not allow an employer to reduce an employee's pay to eliminate the disparity.
A one third pay cut might amount to a constructive discharge. A constructive discharge is an action against an employee that would cause a reasonable person to feel compelled to quit. The problem is that a constructive discharge gives you no more recourse than an actual discharge. So if you can be terminated at will, you can be constructively discharged without any particular reason being proven.
Sorry for the bad news.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Apr 17, 2002 7:31 PM [EST]

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