What to do if employer reduced wages and has not paid bonuses?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What to do if employer reduced wages and has not paid bonuses?

My employer reduced my wages 4 months ago without warning and started charging a payback for wages from 6 months ago. My manager was able to stop this last month. Since then, there has been promises that my salary will return to the original amount and that I will receive a payback of the amount wrongfully taken. I am also owed a quarterly bonus which was to be paid at the end of last month but I have not received that either. I have nothing in writing of what has been going on behind the scenes to get my pay adjusted, backpay and bonus; it’s just their word that it is in progress. Is there anything I can do or should do?

Asked on June 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

An employer cannot reduce your pay for work already done--if they did, they are in breach of contract (the agreement, even if only an oral or unwritten one, pursuant to which you do work for pay) and you could sue them. But they can reduce your wage at will, without any warning or notice, for work not yet done; so if they reduced your wages 4 months ago, that is legal, so long as the reduction was not retroactive. The only exception to this would be if there was a written employment contract setting or guarantying your wage; if there was, they cannot reduce your wage in violation of the written agreement.
An employer is not required to pay bonuses, unless there is a written bonus agreement. If there was a written agreement and they did not pay, you could sue for the money, but if there was no written agreement, they could simply decide to not pay you and you'd have no recourse.

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