Is it legal to lower an employee’s pay an hour?

UPDATED: Sep 3, 2011

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Is it legal to lower an employee’s pay an hour?

I was making $8.25 an hour but then was informed that my pay per hour was being cut back to minimum wage. I have had friends tell me that was illegal but I want to be sure.No, your employer cannot retroactively reduce your pay.

Asked on September 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You are entitled to your previous pay rate for work already performed but you are not entitled to if for current or future work - as long as minimum wage laws are being complied with. That is unless you have an employment contract or union agreement that prohibits such action, the pay cut in some way violates company policy, or the decrease is a result of some form of actionable discrimination. Absent any of the foregoing your employer was well within its legal rights. 

This is because most employment relationships are "at will". Basically, this means is that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason at all, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it sees fit (with or with out notice).  In turn, an employee can choose to continue to work for an employer or not. 

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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