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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20072
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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If someone is hired full time; is it legal to cut their ho

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If someone is hired full time; is it legal to cut their hours?

In order to answer your question, I need a few more facts. What state do you live in? Do you have a contract? Are you paid hourly or salary?

Thank you.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
My husband recently transferred to NH from MD; he left Giant Food, Inc. after 20+ years, BUT is working for Stop n Shop the umbrella company.
He applied at the store kiosk for full-time employment; he was hired and has been working at the SAME store and for the company since July 28th (ish) full-time. The letter we mailed to the store manager thanking him for the interview and the time he took in assisting him in filling out "the forms" included the phrase "full-time position". The reason for the recent cut in his hours is ostensibly because a store in Maine closed and they are "giving" those employees how have lost their jobs access to hours throught out other Stop n Shop stores.
Hello again,

Although you still didn't state how your husband is paid, I will attempt to answer your question as best I can. In general an employer may cut an employee's hours as long as they are not doing it for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons, or in violation of an employment contract. In addition, employees who are considered full-time can have less than 40 hours a week and still be considered full-time. The definition of full-time is based on what the company says it is. So, for example a company may define full-time as 32-40 hours a week. the sorts of cuts you are talking about are unfortunately, because of the current economic conditions, quite common and legal under the circumstances I laid out above.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I'm sorry, he is paid biweekly, he has been "guaranteed" through a verbal statement by his store manager 29 hours per week. This also means his health benefits have been terminated. So what you are saying is that as long as someone has been acknowledged as full-time; whatever definition that may be; hours can be cut to again; whatever a company deems?
And exactly where and to whom should he speak to find these definitions? I once worked "full-time" which equated to 37.5 hours per week; but it was fixed at that. He is paying union dues but they say they can't help him. So where does he go for these answers?
Hello again,

There is a very slight chance that your husband may have a breach of contract case for lowering his hours below full-time and taking away his benefits. The reason I say this, is if the company is both lowering his hours to 29 and terminating his benefits, it is pretty apparent that he is no longer a full-time employee. Also, the reason I say slight is that my guess is that chances are that the collective bargaining agreement with the union left a loophole for this option to the employer. If it didn't then his chances are better to raise the issue of the fact that the letter said "full-time." To find out how the company categorizes employees sd full-time or part-time and who gets benefits, all you husband needs to do is look at the employee handbook or policy manual available through the HR department, or call them for clarification. If after considering all the information, your husband still feels that his hours have wrongly been cut, then he needs to try to resolve the issue internally by filing the appropriate grievances with the union and the HR department. Once he has done that, he can consult with an attorney about representation in a breach of contract action.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
He naturally feels taken for granted and used. His self-esteem is very low, as is his energy level right now. I appreciate your advice. Have you seen success with this type of thing internally; or if that isn't something you would have had access to; success in litigation. For me, it's a point of principle and I am not adverse to LOTS of word of mouth bad pr toward them. Even contacting a radio/newspaper, etc., and citing companies such as this as villians as we are seeing the CEO's of health care industries being referred as. In your opinion, is this actionable with a chance of winning? IF he can verify that full-time is 40, he was hired as FT and his benefits have been eradicated, shall we say it; illegally?
Hello again,

I can't say whether or not an internal grievance will be successful. A lot depends on who is involved in settling the grievance and how concerned they might be that their actions are not in compliance with the agreement he had. It is important though throughout the process for him to remain professional and not throw out threats. He doesn't want to give his employer any reason to terminate him for insubordination. The actions of the employer may not have been illegal, it really depends on all the agreements, practices and policies in place. Without any sort of contract, this action is entirely legal and, as I believe I said above, common in the current economy. The issue in your husband's case is very fact specific and will need to be evaluated by a local attorney who can gain access to all the facts. Whether or not your husband wants to resolve to getting the local media involved will be a decision that he will have to make considering the pros and cons.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I am very down hearted to learn that an employer can arbitrarily cut someone's hours legally. I was under the impression that there were prohibited labor practices and you'd think this would fall under that! How is anyone's job secure if that is the case? And the fact that "the economy" is a mess is not a valid reason. This means that anyone can say at any time the economy is bad; it's as you indicated above "who is concerned, etc." This is a joke.
I appreciate your time and expertise.
Hello again,

I didn't say that all employees could have their hours cut arbitrarily. If there is not a contract in place, whether implied or otherwise, then they can. In your husband's case, he may very well have a valid case. He will need to do some leg work and consulting with a local attorney about all the specifics in this case though to figure that out.

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