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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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In the beginning of 2012 my employer offered me salary plus

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In the beginning of 2012 my employer offered me salary plus hourly rates for my teaching hours. I hadn't been teaching since the beginning of 2013. In the mean time my duties changed and I got a raise for my salary. 3 weeks ago I started teaching again and when I got my last paycheck there was a big discrepancy. They gave me run around for couple of days and then told me that they were taking the teaching hours and calculating it against my salary hours.

I told them I would not have taken teaching hours if I knew the change. Right now I am still doing both jobs. I want to know what my rights are. Can they mess with my unemployment if I quit? Can I get the money that is owed to me for those hours?
What can I do??
Hello and welcome to justanswer.

Can you tell me if you have an employment contract with your employer?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have an employment offer letter, which states


"Your initial rate of compensation will be $800 a week plus your teaching rate of $30 per hour"


Also it states that it is an at will employment.

Hello Manuello,

My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

If your employer gave you the understanding that you would be receiving a certain amount of wages, it is illegal for your employer to inform you after the fact that they've changed your pay scale.

However, as an at-will employee, your employer is free to change the terms and conditions of your employment at any time for any reason with or without any prior notice.

If your employer is significantly reducing your wages (by at least 25%) then you will be automatically entitled to unemployment benefits, since your voluntary quit would be considered to be for good cause. However, you do need to prove that you quit for good cause

This stems from the employment at-will doctrine, which is codified in California Labor Code Section 2922 and states:

"An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at
the will of either party on notice to the other. Employment for a
specified term means an employment for a period greater than one

That said, although you had an offer letter that stated that you would receive a certain level of compensation, your employer can change this at any time, but they still need to inform you before you work.

Otherwise, you do have a valid wage claim or law suit against your employer for unpaid wages. I would suggest filing a wage claim against your employer, which you can do using the information available online here:

For more information please see here:

My goal is to provide you with the best service possible, so please let me know if you have any follow up questions.

If not, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work!

Thanks and best of luck!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Joseph,


I understand that I have a claim to my wages because they did not inform me of the change.


At the beginning of this week, when I was informed of the change, I told them if I had known of the change I would not have accepted to teach these classes, and that under these conditions I do not want to teach the classes.


It is easier to find a replacement for my other duties, so now they are telling me that I should train someone to take those duties and become just a teacher. Which means in a month when these classes are over they don't have to give me any other classes.


I feel like this is a retaliation for asking about the wage change. If I hadn't asked them, they would have had no problem keeping me at the salaried position and teaching under these new payment terms.


Also for the last three weeks they have been picking on me with e-mails for the work that I have done as favors to other departments ( not included in my job duties). It seems like they are documenting problems they have with me but do not answer my emails and texts regarding wage changes. All of that information was discussed on the phone.


The change in my wage calculates to 24.38%


I don't know what to do, I feel like I already lost my job at the end of this month, but all they are going to say is we don't have classes for you but you are in the payroll.


Is there anything else that I can do beyond the wage claim?


Hello Manuello,

Is there anything else that I can do beyond the wage claim?

Yes, there most certainly is. In addition to the wage claim, you definitely seem to have a cause of action for wrongful retaliation/termination in violation of public policy, since they have removed those duties from you at the end of the month as a result of your complaint.

Additionally, the harassment that you are experiencing from them via email would also provide additional evidence to support a wrongful termination in violation of public policy claim.

I imagine that they're being very strategic about only talking on the phone with you, since they are probably trying to avoid creating any type of paper trail that would bolster your wage claim or your case for wrongful termination.

Also, the 25% amount as a reduction in wages is certainly not solely determinative of whether you will receive benefits or not. (I.e., it doesn't mean that if you don't have at least 25% you won't qualify). Instead, taken with the other treatment and harassment that you've experienced, EDD should conclude that you had good cause to leave employment since a reasonable person who wanted to stay employed would also have left in the same circumstances.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions.

Thanks and best of luck!

Joseph and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Hello Manuello,

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Thanks and best of luck!