My boss is trying to renege on a verbally promised pay raise. What can I do?

Asked over 1 year ago - Sherman Oaks, CA

I work for a tiny company and my one other co-worker is retiring. She announced it a year ago, and my boss told me then that he wanted me to take over her job when the time came, with a pay raise of "$15,000-$20,000 to start." I have tried to lock him down on a number ever since, but he keeps putting me off. My co-worker has 2 days left, so I approached my boss again, but he stopped me saying: "We'll talk later; I have ideas." That, plus his unwillingness to talk about it for months leads me to believe he is trying to seriously reduce the pay raise. To complicate things -- I am now 6 months pregnant, and I'm worried he will use that as a bargaining tool, as he wants me to bring the baby to work with me. He thinks he's being nice but he really just wants to take away my maternity leave.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Christine C McCall


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If you are an at will employee (no contract, no union) then you can be fired at any time for any reason. Similarly, you can be suspended or have your salary reduced.

    The statement that you attribute to your boss about a promotion/raise does not constitute an enforceable contract or promise.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended... more
  2. Darrel S Jackson


    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Employers generally have broad discretion to manage their workforce, including setting pay rates. Unless you are covered under an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, your employer could lawfully promise a pay raise in the future and then change its mind later. California law may provide angle for your to pursue, and perhaps one of the fine California attorneys on this site will weigh in. Good luck.

    My answers to questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information only, and are not intended to... more

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