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Are employers allowed to add to your job duties without a raise?

Sacramento, CA |

I've been working at a fast food place for over a year now and just recently they've been giving me extra "chores" . They say that if I don't do these extra things I will be written up and eventually fired. My problem is that not once did I receive a raise with my promotion and I'm not willin to go the extra mile until I see dollar signs. What makes me me angry is that a new person just got hired and they are already making more than me.!..

Attorney Answers 4


Being made to do more work without more pay is certainly unfair, and there are many things about employment that are unfair. The unfortunate answer to your question is that it is likely your employer can increase your duties without giving you a raise. In fact, there are only a number of limited circumstances where an employer could not do this.

California employment is most often at-will. Labor Code section 2922 defines employment as at-will, which means an employer can change just about anything related to the terms and conditions of your employment, including your job duties, pay, title, hours and more, provided the changes take effect in the future. For example, an employer cannot change your pay rate for work you have already done, but can change it for work you have not yet done.

The few exceptions to at-will employment include work that is performed under a contract with start and end dates, and employment where the employees are represented by a labor union. Also, an employer cannot change terms of employment if the reason for the change is against the law. For example, an employer cannot increase your workload because of your race, sex, national origin, religion, etc. or because you blew the whistle on safety violations. Also, an employer is required to provide a safe work environment, so if the increased work is really extreme, the employer may be violating the law.

While I understand your unhappiness with being given more work without getting a raise, and while I also think this is unfair, I urge you to consider the terrible unemployment situation in California these days. If you want to take a stand against the employer and refuse to do more work for the same pay, understand that the employer will probably fire you, and it is very likely that you will not be eligible for unemployment unless the increased workload was extreme.

*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights.*** These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all of the state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. ***

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Under Federal Law the answer is yes. Unless you have a union or employment contract that spells out your duties, employers may increase and change your workload or duties at will. As long as they pay you for all hours worked it is legal.

Please note by answering this question there is no attorney-client relationship formed. I am not your attorney. Nothing I said in this reply can or should be relied on. In order to rely on counsel's advise you must retain that attorney and receive representation or an official opinion letter. This is neither and meant to be for general informational purposes. Your case has specific nuances that goes beyond what you wrote and what I answered and you must speak directly with counsel to advise you of your rights. Please note I am only giving advice in the jurisdictions I am admitted (NJ, NY, PA). In any other jurisdiction I am discussing the law in general from an academic sense and not state specific rights. You should consult with a lawyer in your local jurisdiction.

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Your employer's conduct and expectations are legal in California.

"...I'm not willin to go the extra mile until I see dollar signs..." often results in "... a new person just got hired and they are already making more than me!".

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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I understand I have a sour attitude...but my raise never came wit my promotion. The person who makes more than me was one of the managers friends! ;)


An employment relationship is based upon an agreement between the employer and employee. The employer offers the employee a job at a certain rate of pay and the employee either accepts it or rejects it. If the employee rejects the job or the wage there is no employment.

Unless the terms of the employment agreement have been contracted for, for a specific period of time, the employment is considered "at-will", which means the terms of the relationship can change or end at the will of either party. Therefore, the employer has the right to increase or decrease the wage at any time, subject to notice. It can also change the job duties at any time, as is deemed necessary for the business. If the employee does not wish to work for the new pay, or perform the new job duties, he or she can either quit the job or refuse to perform the new duties and be fired for insubordination.

There is nothing illegal about the scenario you describe. Many businesses are requiring employees to do more for less due to the economy. Your new boss probably knows that if you won't do what is requested, there are many other unemployed people who gladly will.

The only exception to the above is if the motivating reason the new boss is treating you differently from other employees is due to some form of unlawful discrimination, such as race, gender, age, national origin, etc. or because of some protected activity you engaged in. If you believe this may be the case, you need to discuss this with an employment law attorney for a case evaluation. If you simply do not like taking on more responsibility for the same wage, your option is to find an employer who will pay you what you believe is more fair.

They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.

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