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Paid an hourly rate lower than told during hiring - California

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  • Paid an hourly rate lower than told during hiring - California

    Recently I was hired for a temporary exempt position. I knew during the job application process what the pay range was for this position. During the interview I asked what my pay rate would be and was told $X/hour. There was no further discussion about pay rate. When I got my first paycheck I found out they were paying me $2/hour less than I was told. When I asked about it they beat around the bush. They said there is a pay range for my position and HR decides what to pay. They made nothing of the fact that they told me they would pay me $X and are paying me less. Are they legally bound to pay me what they said they would during the interview? This is a union job. Thank you.

  • #2
    Do you have a contract re your pay?

    You could talk to your union rep.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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    • #3
      Agreed. Past that, there are (at least) two different kinds of law in this area. Labor law is law imposed by the government on parties and contract law is legally enforceable agreements between parties.
      - While all contracts are agreements, not all agreements are (legally enforceable) contracts. Most agreements in fact are not. The OP can take their agreement to a local attorney to see if it rises to the level of a legally enforceable contract. Alternatively, union CBAs are also contracts.
      - If we take contract law off the table, all that is left is labor law. Under labor law only, it would be perfectly legal for the employer to change their mind. Under labor law, employment is "at will". This includes the compensation agreement.
      - There is a semi-obscure contract law exception called Detrimental Reliance (DR). This is far from a sure thing. Basically the argument is "I acted on good faith on the other guy's representation and was damaged as a result". This argument will not work with the wages, because Employment At Will specifically says otherwise, and the courts agree. HOWEVER, once in a very blue moon an interesting court case happens. Example a pharmacist (Grouse) in CA sued their would be employer. Grouse quit his old job, and moved to a new home in response to representations made by his supposed new employer. Who knew that they had a different candidate they gave an offer to and whom consider Grouse a "just in case" candidate. Grouse tries to show up to work and gets put off several weeks. Then told he was not hired after all. Grouse sues not for lost wages but for actual measurable damages. He won, in large part because the court considered the would-be employer to be pond scum trying to hide behind labor law. There is a well established contract law principals that if the contract fails, both parties are required to mitigate damages to the other party. Which clearly did not happen here. However a DR claim generally never works for something like a wage reduction.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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