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Litigation, P.C. Law Firm
Los Angeles Litigation Law Firm 424-284-2401

Can My California Employer Legally Cut My Pay or Hours for No Reason?


If your employer cuts your pay or work hours for no reason — or perhaps in an attempt to force you to quit — you may wonder whether you can file a wage and hour claim against your employer.

It’s important to discuss your particular case with a Los Angeles wage & hour claims lawyer at Litigation, P.C. to determine the legality of your employer’s actions.

But here is an overview of the law as it pertains to pay and hour cuts.

Why do employers cut pay and hours?

Employers can reduce their employees’ pay or cut their work hours for various reasons. In many cases, employers choose to cut hours because:

  • The company no longer needs position to be full-time
  • The employer is trying to save money
  • The company is trying to boost productivity
  • The employer is eliminating certain job roles or departments
  • Reducing hours may be an attempt to avoid layoffs

Is it illegal for an employer to cut your pay or work hours for no reason?

Yes, but only if there is an employment contract or bargaining agreement. If you do not have a contract, your employer can legally reduce your work hours or cut pay and you may not have any recourse.

The primary reason for that is because most employees in California work on an at-will basis, which means you and your employer are free to terminate the employment relationship for any reason and at any time.

Being an at-will employee also means that the number of hours you work for your employer is not guaranteed. However, if there is an employment or bargaining contract, your employer may not be able to legally reduce your pay or work hours.

Thus, unless you are protected by a union contract or employment agreement, your employer can legally fire you, demote you, or change your work hours at any time and for any reason.

What reasons could make cutting an employee’s pay or work hours illegal?

There are several situations in which it may be illegal for an employer to cut an employee’s pay or work hours:

  • An employee is protected by an employment or bargaining agreement
  • An employer cuts an employee’s hours or pay for a discriminatory reason such as harassment, discrimination, or retaliation
  • An employer cuts an employee’s pay to a level below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) or California’s minimum-wage requirements ($13 for companies with 25 or fewer employees or $14 for companies with at least 26 employees)
  • An employer fails to pay an employee overtime. In California, employers must pay overtime pay for employees who work more than eight hours per day

Also, in mind that the wage and hour laws for exempt employees are not the same as for non-exempt employees. Regular wage and hour laws do not apply to employees who are exempt from minimum wage, overtime and rest break requirements.

If your employer reduced your hours or pay, it’s advised to talk to a Los Angeles employment attorney to discuss the legality of your employer’s decision. Schedule a consultation with our lawyer at Litigation, P.C. by calling 424-284-2401.

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