Is it legal for a current employer to rescind a written salary offer after the employee has accepted and started the new position?

UPDATED: May 28, 2009

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Is it legal for a current employer to rescind a written salary offer after the employee has accepted and started the new position?

Verbal job offer was made stating new salary, then the written offer letter stating the new salary (which confirmed the same salary as the verbal offer) was received. Employee started new postion and 2 weeks into the position was contacted by HR dept. stating they had messed up the calculation of the new salary and therefore they were going to lower salary that was offered significantly because of their misstake. Employee’s supervisor and manager had no issues with the new salary offered and the salary is w/i the salary range for the position.

Asked on May 28, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


J.V., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

The laws surrounding employment law ten to give a lot of leeway to both parties based on the concept of at-will employment. If you feel the decrease is substantial and now the salary is not commensurate with a normal salary you should contact a local attorney handling this type of situation. They can make a few calls and see where the mix up occurred and if they may be able to get you the agreed upon salary

As for the the right to do so the employer does have the ability to make changes to salary benefits etc. You should read your employment contract see if any language would suggest otherwise but if not they may not be incorrect. You have the right to say no and run the risk of losing the position.

However before agreeing to the decrease in salary i would advise at least speaking with a local attorney who may be able to offer you some help in keeping the original agreed salary or at least meeting somewhere in the middle 

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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