Here's what happened:

  1. I received a 10% raise from my employer. We signed the paperwork.
  2. The next day, I submit my two weeks' notice because I've landed a better job.
  3. Today, two days before my last day, my boss tells me that they never "implemented" the raise, even though we already signed the agreement stating I would get it.

This seems illegal.

Please give me some solid advice and a direction on what to do. I know I'm leaving, but I earned the raise, and still feel that I should get paid accordingly.

  • 4
    This seems to be a legal question, so you should reach out to a lawyer. Before you do that, I would suggest considering whether pursuing this is worthwhile (both financially, and in terms of preserving professional relationships).
    – MrFox
    Jun 18, 2014 at 17:40
  • 9
    The only way you will get the raise is likely to be to hire a lawyer. Is one pay periods 10% raise really worth the cost of a lawyer as well as the harm to your realtionship wiith people you expect fure recommendations from?
    – HLGEM
    Jun 18, 2014 at 17:53
  • 3
    @kehrk unfortunately principles like this are probably not worth the effort. Even if you fight it you risk losing and getting the reputation of being the kind of employee who will fight with legal force anytime he doesn't get what he wants.
    – Boumbles
    Jun 18, 2014 at 18:00
  • 1
    You can be pointy-headed, get a lawyer and sue them. That won't do anything for your references and your prospects of rejoining the firm. Nothing like blowing up the bridge on the way out. Jun 18, 2014 at 18:11
  • 2
    They probably feel completely betrayed by you leaving for a better job the day after signing up for a raise. If the raise was to say "we value you and want you to stay with us", there would be no point for them to pay you it, since suddenly your value to the company has evaporated and you aren't staying. You feel sore that they didn't implement an agreement, but they feel sore that you made the agreement just before quitting. They'll feel no moral obligation to honour an agreement they felt you made in bad faith.
    – AndrewC
    Jun 19, 2014 at 8:30

4 Answers 4


From a strictly legal standpoint, do they owe you the money? Probably.

From every other standpoint... just drop it. Its almost certainly not enough money to be worth your time going after, let alone any litigation. And its almost certainly not enough to offset the damage to your reputation if you do go after it. Do you really want to be known for being so petty?

Personally, if I was in your boss's position, I may not have wasted time with the paperwork, either.

  • 2
    Agreed, unless we're talking some obscene amount of money (which 10% would imply it's not the case) Just sitting with an attorney to review this could cost you more than there is to gain in the best case scenario. Jun 18, 2014 at 18:31

The paperwork is likely just a request from you with the endorsement of your supervisor/manager for an increase in the rate of pay. It would still require the approval of senior management. Normally something like this is basically a formality but there are many things that can interfere with a raise or promotion.

The raise was pending assuming you would retain the same status and availability. I knew someone that had a promotion signed and approved but he was injured in a car accident(hit by drunk driver) the weekend before he was supposed to start and unavailable to start the new position as assigned. As a result that person was not promoted, and since they had filled his old position he ended up being let go when he returned from FMLA. He challenged it with the help of a good lawyer but ended up with nothing but thousands in legal bills.

It is possible that you could go after the company for the money you were supposed to get. Lets do some numbers being generous, say its 4 weeks pay at the new rate. And, lets pretend it was a raise of $10/hour over 160 hours (40h/w x 3 weeks) thats 1600 before tax. Unless you can find a lawyer to take this case on Contingency then you will have to pay most of the legal fees up front. That is probably going to be more than 1600(which I would guess is way over the real number). If you are successful you might also be awarded those fees.

But, my bet is that you are not going to be successful. You changed your availability before the raise was finalized. The company reconsidered and chose not to give you the raise. So you are risking all the legal fees, plus what would be a considerable amount of time preparing for court and in court over a relatively small amount. And if you lose you could also end up paying their legal fees which will probably be considerably higher than yours. Its not worth the fight, get a good reference from your employer and part ways.

  • Precisely, and even these numbers are almost certainly overshooting it. The OP only had 2 weeks notice, not 4. This means that even if they earned $100/hour (which is $208k per year) they'd still only have "lost" $800.
    – Ben
    Jun 19, 2014 at 12:14

Well, it's not illegal. No crime was committed.

It might be a civil tort, but realistically, you're talking about, at most, a few hundred dollars. You will be in small claims court, and the burden of proof is on you. IANAL, but to me, your chances of prevailing are pretty slim.

You will effectively have burned all bridges, and you will be remembered as "that guy" and no one you know there will ever provide a positive reference for you.

Employment is a business transaction, not a reward system. Employers pay what they must, not what they should. If the supply / demand ratio changes, adjustments are made, and that's what a raise is for - either your service is more in demand (as your skills and efficiency improve), or market forces have made demand for your existing skill set higher. A "raise" is to keep you as an employee with the changed business climate.

You have declined that offer. The raise was not sufficient, as you took another job, so why would the employer expect to pay more when you have not met your side of the bargain?

That "Paperwork" is probably just a collection of HR forms for your supervisor to approve and you to acknowledge the new pay rate. Trying to construe that as a contract, especially when you are no longer wishing to remain as an employee, is a longshot at best.

Hire a lawyer and sue if you wish. You have that right. You're trying to ice skate uphill, though, IMO.


Personally, I'd let it go. I don't think 10% for one pay period (of which the government will get a good chunk) is worth burning bridges over with your current employer. It's certainly not enough to hire a lawyer over.

The most I would do would be to mention to your boss that you feel it wasn't in good faith for them not to pay you your earned raise for your final pay period, since you have a signed agreement stating that your new salary would be in effect as of 06/02.

Considering that they just gave you a 10% raise, they're presumably pleased with your work, and unhappy that you're leaving. So there may be a little passive aggressive thing going on there. Or it may just be that they didn't think it worthwhile to do all the paperwork for a pay change for a single pay period.

But since you've landed a better job, I'd just smile and go on my way.

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