My employer reneged on its promise not to change our pay without 90 days notice. How can I enforce this?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Los Angeles, CA

A group of sales employees was transferred to a different job to help reduce a backlog of work. Instead of getting base pay and commissions, we were promised that if we took the new positions we would get our base pay plus a fixed amount based on our average commissions and that they would not change this agreement without 90 days notice. A lot of us would have looked for another job had we known that they would renege on the 90 day promise. What should we do?

Additional information

Thanks for the great responses. Am I protected from retaliation if I complain about it? We're taking a huge pay cut and I need the 90 days to find another job.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Michael Robert Kirschbaum

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Whether or not you have an enforceable contract depends on the precise words used in making the offer. If there was a clear meeting of the minds of the essential terms of the employment agreement, the employer may be held bound to its promises. Contracts can be verbal as well as written but sometimes more open to disagreement. But if there were a number of employees who were promised the same thing and accepted the offer, it is more likely to hold the employer to its promises.

    What to do about it depends on how much is at stake here and whether it is worth taking legal action with a lawyer, or to explore other alternatives. It would be worth your while for you and, preferably, other affected employees to meet with an experienced employment law attorney in your area, for a legal assessment of the merits of your case and discuss what options you have available to you.

    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... more
  2. James Carl Eschen III

    Contributor Level 16

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If your employer told you that he would give you 90 days notice knowing that some of you would otherwise seek a new job, and you continued to work there, you more than likely have an enforceable contract.

    Remind your employer, politely, of his promise. Don't make yourself obnoxious, but you should remind it again from time to time through the 90 days so that the employer cannot say that you accepted the change. To enforce the promise, you can either go to court or seek assistance from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The statute of limitations is three or four years, depending on which remedy you want, so I would do nothing until your employment ends.

  3. Charles Richard Perry

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree that you need to meet with a plaintiff's labor lawyer to discuss your strategy here.

    There is a question of proof of the promise, and there is a question of life at your job after the claim. It is not possible to advise you as to either of those in this forum.

    I can say, however, that your remedy would be either before the California labor commissioner or in court. Your lawyer will be able to better advise you as which of those, if either, you should pursue.

    Best of luck to you.

  4. David Andrew Mallen

    Contributor Level 14

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Having commission agreements often gives you a little more legal protection when the employer wants to change the terms of a commission agreement in the middle of the game. That is flat-out illegal.

    Your commission terms can change prospectively, but the employer cannot go back in time and change the rules once you act on the old terms.

    You and your co-workers would be most welcome to discuss this issue by an experienced wage and hour attorney, who will analyze this issue and see if the employer is playing fast and loose with any other wage laws.

    This stuff can be tricky! Don't go it alone.

    Best regards,

    David A. Mallen
    310.895.0107
    www.elsegundocaemploymentattorney.com

    David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not... more

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