Am I entitled to back pay?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Am I entitled to back pay?

I completed a training course to get a pay raise in December 2018 and shortly after I was asked to become an assistant manager which would include another pay increase. After about a month as assistant manager I decided it wasn’t for me so I asked to be demoted. I noticed that my pay was also decreased back down to minimum wage even after being certified through training. In April 2019, I questioned the GM and the owners sister, I am unaware of her title within the company, about if my training pay increase would ever be reapplied to my current wages. After a brief discussion they pretty much told me my pay should have never went back down to minimum wage since I was certified. I asked if I would be compensated for approximately January 2019-April 2019 and I was told they would be willing to back pay a month or two but they are not willing to go back to January. Am I entitled to back pay back to January or should I take what they are willing to give me?

Asked on May 2, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You have no right to the back pay unless you had a written contract which by its plain terms guaranteed you the pay for a certain period of time. If you did, you can enforce the terms of that contract, such as by a breach of contract lawsuit.
But without a contract, regardless of what you were told or promised, your pay is 100% under the control of your employer (this is part of "employment at will")--they only have to pay you what they want to pay, and can ignore prior discussions or promises. So without a contract, you are only entitled to what they are willing to give you.

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