Is It Legal For My Boss To Cut My Wages?

Pay and overtime issues May 17th, 2024
Cut wages-woman sitting on cracked piggy bank Cut wages-woman sitting on cracked piggy bank

If you are like most workers, you depend on the money you earn – and you probably have bills and financial obligations that you need to meet. Budgeting helps, of course, but what happens when your employer abruptly cuts your hours or wages? You might wonder how you’ll make ends meet.

You might even wonder if that’s even legal. In some cases, it’s not.

Did Your Boss Cut Your Wages? Here’s What You Need to Know!

  • California is an at-will state

As in many states, employees in California work on an “at will” basis, which means that you and your employer can terminate your work relationship at any time and for no reason at all. There are exceptions, though. For example, they cannot cut your wages as an act of discrimination or retaliation.

  • It’s not a level playing field

Workers and job applicants have employment rights, but employers still have the upper hand in many situations. Employers have the right to run their private business as they like, for the most part.  They don’t necessarily have to tell an employee that they are under-performing or engaging in other activities that may put them at risk for a pay cut. Employers don’t legally have to consider your finances when cutting your pay. However, employers DO legally have to pay you the minimum wage. 

  • Your boss can only cut wages for future work

Your employer cannot cut wages for work you have already performed. They must pay you the amount you agreed to for the period worked. Any new payment adjustments will have to apply to future working hours. 

  • Your employer cannot lower your salary without telling you ahead of time

While your boss can lower your salary in the same way as they can raise it, they must provide you with advanced notice. They may provide notice on your payroll wage statement or in person.

  • California’s wage and hours laws are different for exempt and non-exempt employees

The state’s wage and hours laws regulating minimum wage, overtime, and rest break requirements do not cover exempt employees.

Cutting your wages may be illegal according to California wage laws

Reducing your pay or work hours may be illegal in some cases, such as when:

  • An employment or bargaining agreement protects the employee
  • The employer cuts pay or hours for illegal reasons, such as retaliation, harassment, or discrimination
  • The employer slashes pay to below federal or state minimum wage requirements
  • The employer fails to pay overtime – California employers must pay overtime pay to those who work more than 8 hours in a day

Did Your Boss in California Cut Your Wages Illegally? Contact Your Employment Attorneys At D.Law!

Workers have certain rights in California, and getting the wage promised to you may be one of them. If your boss cut your wages in a way that you think may have violated California law, contact or call D.Law. Our employment attorney can help you exercise your rights as a worker in the Bay Area, San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles, and other California cities.

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