Skip to main content

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

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.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 2


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 be legal advice. Employment law issues typically require a careful case-by-case analysis. Consequently, if you feel that you need legal advice, I would encourage you to consult in person with an employment attorney in your area.


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 as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal 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 joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.