Can my boss lower my pay ‘just because’

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my boss lower my pay ‘just because’

I am a dental hygienist and have been with my
office for 10 years. I was given a raise in
November and have only ever been told that I’m
doing a great job.
My boss’s wife came on board 2 weeks ago and
has decided that I make too much money and
wants to cut my pay. It has not been discussed
how much of a reduction she wants.

I am also 37 weeks pregnant and am worried that
they’re trying to push me out to hire some e
else for less. Is this even legal?

Asked on January 19, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Leaving aside the pregnancy for the moment, your employer could lower you pay for no reason whenever the employer wanted, unless you had a written employment contract locking in or guarantying your pay. In the absence of a written contract, you are an employee at will and your employer may change any aspect of your job, including pay, at any time, for any reason.
The fact that you pregnant does not automatically save you from a pay cut, but the law prohibits discriminating against a pregnant woman because she is pregnant; i.e. your pay can be cut for other reasons, but if there is some reason to think that pregnancy is a reason for the cut, that may be illegal disability-based (since pregnancy is considered a disability for this purpose) discrimination. If you think that a factor in reducing your pay is your pregnancy, contact the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency about filing a complaint.

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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