What can I do if I haven’t been getting paid my agreed upon pay rate?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I do if I haven’t been getting paid my agreed upon pay rate?

My employer agreed to give me a pay rate of $15 an hour. However, for more than a month he has been paying $13 a hour. Every time I get a check he says that he will fix it the next time but he doesn’t. If I have proof, a text message, that he said he was going to pay me $15 a hour from the beginning, does he have to pay me back for all the other checks he didn’t pay me in the agreed start pay rate?

Asked on July 1, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The employer could reduce your pay to $13/hour at any time, unless you have an actual written employment contract guarantying the higher rate, but such change is only effective prospectively--that is, from when the change is announced to you forward. If the employer has not told you that your rate is $13/hour, not $15/hour, they have to pay you at $15/hour. If the employer does not, you could sue him for the back pay you are owed (e.g. the other $2/hour, for all the hours worked to date for which you were not paid the proper rate), such as in small claims court (where you should act as your own attorney, or "pro se," to save legal costs).

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