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April 15, 2019

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to change an employee’s schedule, hours, pay or benefits and you worried about whether you could (especially if the change negatively impacts the employee)?  We here at myHRcounsel have seen this question many times.  An employer will write in and say that they want to cut an employee’s pay based on a variety of factors such as business necessity or poor performance.  However, the employer worries because that employee is in a protected class and so they wonder if they can make that change.  First, as long as the employee is an at-will employee and there is no written document in place that states otherwise, employers are free to modify the terms and conditions of a worker’s employment (including hours, pay, benefits, etc.).  Second, if you want or need to make the change, be sure that the reasoning behind the change is well-documented and is non-discriminatory.  In the case of reducing an employee’s pay for poor performance, as an example, be sure that you have documented the poor performance and attempts to improve it prior to making this decision.  This way if the employee does perceive a discriminatory intent, you as the employer have documentation to prove a legitimate, non-discriminatory intent to justify the change in the worker’s pay.  If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to make unfavorable changes to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment and you would like some legal guidance on how to effect that change, please consult one of myHRcounsel’s attorneys today!

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