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work for free Michigan

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  • work for free Michigan

    May I start out with an apology this may be a little long winded. I am currently working for an apartment complex in Michigan, I have been with this company for a little over a year. I was recently promoted and offered a salary position which entitled me to 26,000 a year and then a small commission each month depending on how many apartments I got cleaned and ready to move in. Basically my hourly pay should be 12.50. Last week I was disciplined for something that was not my fault, and I was given three choices by my supervisor the first choice was that I would have to resign (not fired he wanted me to resign) or I could work a week for no pay or I could just take a month off and not receive any pay. I only had minutes to answer so I obviously took the week without pay. After thinking for about an hour I went back to another supervisor who was in the room with me and the head boss when I was given these options, and told him I had changed my mind I wanted the 30 days off with no pay, he didn’t give me a response but stated that I had made the right decision and that they can’t be without me for a month. Another one of my co-workers who also got in trouble and was given the three options made a scene yesterday, and now my boss has decided that instead of making us work for free (which I am pretty sure is against the law) he will pay us minimum wage for 2 weeks, which if you do the math it makes more sense to work for free. I have not signed the disciplinary write up and intend not to. My question is, is it legal to have a contract in a salary position and then be forced to make minimum wage as a disciplinary action, also I was given the option to take 30 day’s off without pay, now my employer is not giving me that option he is stating either take the minimum wage or resign. Do I have to resign or would that be consider a termination by the company. Thanks!
    Last edited by lelwell; 07-20-2006, 07:43 AM.

  • #2
    Generally speaking, the great majority of employees doing the type of work you do don't have bona fide enforceable contracts; contracts are usually reserved for very high-level management, such as CEOs, Executive VPs, etc. Not having read your document (whatever it is), we have no way of knowing whether it meets the definition of a "contract" in your state. I'm going forward assuming that it does not. However, if you wish to contact at attorney and have him/her review your agreement for their determination, please feel free; contract law is state-specific and case-specific and the advice of an attorney who has read it in its entirety would be needed.

    First of all, assuming you're an employee (taxes are being withheld), although you can be paid on a "salary" basis, you are still a nonexempt employees, since your job is nearly 100% (I imagine) nonexempt duties. As such, you must be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek and you need not be paid for any hours you don't work.

    No, they cannot make you work for free. They can, however, lower your hourly rate to minimum wage as long as they provide advance notice of the change before you work the hours at the lower rate; that is perfectly legal.

    Regarding the write-up, refusing to sign it could be considered insubordination for which you could legally be fired or otherwise disciplined. Signing such a document does not mean you agree with the contents; it means you have acknowledged being informed of the contents. I'm not sure if your state is one in which the employer is required by law to allow you to insert any rebuttal to the write-up you may provide into your personnel file, but even if the law does not, you can always ask them. cbg, is Michigan one of those states? (she'll know).
    Last edited by Pattymd; 07-20-2006, 03:50 PM.
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    • #3
      Yes, it is. The statement cannot exceed 5 8.5 x 11 sheets.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


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