The answer to your question really depends on what your contract says. If it contains a provision that says you are an at will employee, then your employer can change the terms and conditions of your employment as it wants to do. However if your contract is for a period of time or says you can be terminated only for "cause" or "good cause" then you may have a claim of breach.
If you are at will, it is your right to reject the new pay and no longer go to work for that employer. If you are not at will, and there was not sufficient cause to change your wages, it is more complicated. It would be best that you consult with an attorney right away if you are not an at will employee.
Good luck to you.
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Generally, an employer has the legal right to increase or decrease wages as it determines appropriate, upon notice to the employee. However it cannot do so retroactively. If you have a contract that sets your wage for a fixed period of time, the employer would probably be bound by the terms of the contract but a lawyer will need to review the contract, in its entirety, in order to advise you as to your rights and obligations under the contract.
I would not advise you to refuse to work. You probably will be fired or, more probably, they will claim you quit, which will deprive you of unemployment benefits. Your best option is to continue working while having a lawyer review your contract to determine if you have any legal claims for breach of contract. If not, it may be time to look for another job. This employer's actions, if not illegal will probably result in losing a good employee.
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.
You need to set up a consultation with an attorney and take the contract to the consultation with you. This is an imperative first step, since the language of the contract will more than likely govern any wage dispute you may have with your employer. Whoever the attorney is you choose to consult with, will be in the best position to advise you accordingly. Good luck!
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There is not enough room in these posts to analyze a case thoroughly. You need a thorough analysis of your situation. Refusing to go into work is not a good idea until you get a consultation with an employment lawyer. The attorney should review your contract. You are facing difficult decisions, and an attorney should be able to assist you. One additional thing you want to contemplate is your ability to find a similar job in these tough economic times.
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