Can my employer cut my salary/wages?

Asked almost 6 years ago - Los Angeles, CA

Just this month my boss told me that he cannot afford to pay payroll and my full salary through the end of the year because of lack of business and that my days and salary will have to take a cut as a result. He told me this was the case for everybody but as it turns out it is only true for me. He has taken my shifts and given them to my co-worker whom he 1099's at the end of the year. We work in a music studio that deals with bands rehearsing for shows/tours and bands recording their albums/demos. I have a feeling that there is something totally illegal about all this and would like to know if there is anything I can do or if there are some laws that protect me from this. I have had 1 shift in the last 2 weeks where I was working a full 5 day work week, sometimes 6 or 7 days work weeks. Yesterday was my one shift this month so far and my boss' partner pulled me aside and told me that if I were willing to earn what my other co-workers earn, they could probably schedule me more. If you break down my salary hourly I make between $15-$17/HR depending on how long my days are. My co-workers make about $10/hr. Can they even ask me to do this? Isn't it illegal to give somebody a pay cut? I have been working for this studio for close to 5 years. I interned for almost a year before I got a paying position and feel that if anybody should be getting cut it should be the people he 1099's or the other sound engineer they hired about 2 months ago. Can anybody give me some guidance as to what I can do and I am entitled to? Thanks for reading this.

Additional information

Oh....and there is no formal agreement saying that I am on salary. i.e. He never had me sign anything when I was hired nor is there any sort of employee handbook. The only proof is my check stubs that say my Salary earnings for the month. We get paid once a month.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Alicia Irene Dearn

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . Generally, an employer can reduce your shifts or cut your pay without cause.

    There are several exceptions, though. If you feel like something just isn't right, then you should trust your gut and contact a lawyer for a consultation. Usually lawyers will give you a free initial consultation to see if you have a case.

    As for your salary, it sounds as though you are classified as an "exempt" employee, i.e. salaried, not hourly in pay. You should also talk to a lawyer about this, as if you are wrongly classified, you may be entitled to back wages and overtime.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

29,502 answers this week

3,173 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

29,502 answers this week

3,173 attorneys answering