Torrance, CA asked in Employment Law and Employment Discrimination for California

Q: Can an employer decrease the amount you are paid if your contract specifically states the rates they are paying you?

I am paid per patient depending on the patient insurance coverage. I do not work for a temp agency but my employer places their employees in health centers that pay my employer and then employees get paid. I was told the health center is changing how they bill insurance which is causing the change to my pay. Also, my employer has created a new contract under a new company name that I don't want to sign for numerous red flags, one being that they want to pay me less than my male counterpart for the same work. I am a licensed Chiropractor. The change in payment is a decrease which is being used as a tool to push me to sign the new contract which caps my income(even though they told me it is a raise) and pays me less than others. Obviously there are multiple points to my question.

2 Lawyer Answers
Louis George Fazzi
Louis George Fazzi
Answered
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Jess Ranch, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You need to contact an attorney who handles employment matters asap. Look for (i.e. Google) lawyers who handle sex discrimination cases. There are numerous good firms in the Los Angeles area which handle such matters. Look for the most experienced in handling equal pay matters. Barbara Hadsell of Hadsell & Stormer is one of the best.

Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
Answered
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Irvine, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, there are many parts of your question, and thus many answers to be provided. As to whether the employer can change your pay depends on the specific language of your contract. Ultimately, you could have a written contract that is still an at will agreement meaning the terms and conditions of your job can be changed at any time and for any reason rendering the pay "promise" not really enforceable. It is also possible that you have a guaranteed pay amount for a defined period of time. All of that would be determined in the language of the agreement.

As to being offered less pay than your male counterparts, that is generally unlawful unless other factors are involved. More therefore needs to be known to determine if you have a meritorious legal claim for gender discrimination.

The fact you are being offered a new contract from a different company could mean many things. If your prior employer is no longer going to do business under the prior name, perhaps because of a sale of ownership your only choice may be to sign or be terminated. Again, more needs to be known.

In the end, your situation is complicated and requires specific, confidential advice from an employment attorney. It would be a good idea for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law work offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

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