Can an employer, cut my salary without notice even after signing an agreement?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an employer, cut my salary without notice even after signing an agreement?

I work for an ‘at will’ company in Utah. A few months into working I was offered a higher position of director with a raise to my salary. I was presented with an agreement that I signed and proceeded in my responsibilities. Without notice my pay was lowered back to the previous amount.

What are my rights in this?

Asked on May 12, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

First, you need to have an attorney review the agreement, to see if it formed an enforceable contract--in which case, they could only reduce your salary in compliance or accordance with its terms; and if they violate its terms, you could sue them, for "breach of contract," for compensation. Not all "agreements" signed by an employee at work form an enforceable agreement--some are just informational, informing the employee of the current position, salary, benefits, etc. without obligating the employer. Whether it forms an enforceable agreement or not will depend on its specific language of the agreement and whether there was sufficient "consideration"--something of value, including you potentially working additional hours, or different shifts, etc.--given by you to the employer. (If you did not provide consideration, then this was just a "gratuitous," or freely given and unenforceable, promise, not a contract.) So let an attorney review the agreement and facts and see if you have something enforceable. 
Second, though, if you worked under the new, lower pay for a long time--more than year, as your question states--that may be taken to be your agreement to the lower pay. People are not allowed to "sleep" on their rights"; if you don't enforce your rights under an agreement, but instead demonstrably accept a change in the agreement, that can often prevent you from, at a later date, enforcing the agreement. A court might conclude that you agreed to keep working for less, because you did keep working for less. This is something else to discuss with an attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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