Our job recently presented us with a contract to sign within 20 days to see if we will except a 5 to 10k pay decrease per year. When we were presented with this contract we were told if we don't want to except the pay change we can go back to our old position keeping our current pay with no changes. As we draw nearer to the deadline they are now telling us if we want to go back to our old position there must be an opening there. Right now there are openings but our current department will not release us without finding a replacement with our like skills so we may lose our spot. We want to know if its legal for them to cut our pay. If we don't want to take the pay cut do they have to find us position elsewhere. Also, if they can hold us in the department that's cutting the pay and we have to make the same goals while waiting to be released can they cut are pay or because we didn't sign the contract and they won't release us do they have to continue to pay us our current pay & our we untitled to any pay incentive. Any help is greatly appreciated. This is affecting over half of my department.
2 Answers from Attorneys
California employees are presumptively "at will." Unless there is something to contradict this presumption, employers have a general right to reduce an employee's salary, reduce an employee's hours, or even terminate an employee's employment. If you are indeed "at will," and there is no contract in place that is being breached, I do not see where you have much recourse.
There may be facts in your case, such as a collective bargaining agreement or other contract, that contradicts the presumption of "at will" employment. I would contact a labor lawyer to review your situation in detail to help you determine your rights.
The employer is entitled to set and change hours, duties, titles, compensation, benefits, leaves, vacations, holidays, policies, rules, etc., just not retroactively. You can either comply with the changes, look for another job and then resign, or quit now and risk being denied unemployment.
in general, unless an employee is civil service, in a union, or has a written employment contract, they are an 'at will' employee that can be disciplined or terminated any time for any reason, with or without ‘cause’, explanation or notice. That will likely be the outcome of not signing.
Any employee's goal should be to keep their supervisors happy and make them look good to the company, and make the company money. That’s how the company pays employee wages. If you don't, then don't be surprised to be replaced.