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I got a promotion at work, going to work for another dept with a better salary. When I spoke with my HR rep she said Compensation Dept came back with an X salary and a Jr. title, but that she fought for the Staff title and got the Compensation to accept it.

When I got the offer letter, the title was Jr. with X+$500 salary. I spoke with my HR person about the title and she got them to correct the letter, but there was no mention about the extra $500. Second letter came, Staff title and X+$500 salary. I accepted the job and gave my resignation to my current boss. 4 days latter I get a third letter from compensation apologizing for the mistake, my title is still staff, but my salary was now back to X.

I don't think it's fair to change the salary after the fact, I know my HR rep said X, but the letter is from Compensation, maybe I'll be going into a losing battle with my employer of 12 years. Yeah, they messed up the letters twice, but I think I am right here to demand them to honor the first letter, but I want to stand my ground. Even if it's for mere $500.

What's my best -legal if anything- argument?

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    Your HR rep seems to be 'on your side', maybe ask them what the deal is. I'm sure everyone will agree that legal action or even raising a big stink about it is a bad idea. The last person you want to make enemies with is someone in compensation, don't bite the hand that (almost literally) feeds. – Dan Shaffer Nov 17 '15 at 18:48
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    You ask for legal advice without mentioning the country you are in. I'd add that information. Last but not least, please remember that on this site you are going to get advice based on opinion. For actual legal advice your best bet is to contact a lawyer. Also a) keep in mind that if you make a stink about it you're probably going to get canned & b) the company isn't going to be "nice" to you because they made a mistake on a letter. Unless you push them into a corner they will not give you the money. Is the fight worth it? Maybe start looking for a new job instead? – AndreiROM Nov 17 '15 at 20:44
  • That seems like quite a large jump in titles. Or at least, at the companies I have experience with, the progression goes 'Junior/Associate -> <normal> -> Senior -> Staff'. Did your HR person really secure you a position that's 3 levels up from what was originally offered? – aroth Nov 18 '15 at 1:12
  • @aroth - Junior - Staff - Senior is fairly common too. – Jon Story Nov 18 '15 at 13:51
  • @DanShaffer Spoke with my HR, and she said that I have to take it with Comp, but if they ask her, she would definitively back me up. Yes, she's on my side, which is really reassuring. – Geto Nov 18 '15 at 17:13
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Legally, you might be able to get some advice once you specify more information (aka, the country you're in).

However, from the general situation, I don't think you have a leg to stand on.

There was clearly a political decision involved in how much you were going to be making. Someone tried to get you that raise, and they lost.

The company is not going to give you the extra money just because they made a typo. If you go and ask a manager about it they will simply say:

Yes, we apologize, the correct number is X, not X+$500.

Then what do you do? You have 2 options.

1) You fight it

You tell the boss that that's not what you agreed to, and that you demand you be paid your fair wage. Do you think that will go over well? Because you will most likely get sent back to your old job, and get marked for termination at the first possible opportunity.

The company allocated a budget for that position - or more specifically for you filling that position.

2) Accept it

What are the benefits of taking on this new job? Will it open doors for you going forward? Will it help you either progress within the ranks of this company, or get a better job in a couple of years? Then I would keep quiet and soldier on.

If the job change is really not worth it, however, and if you really are very offended by this move, you're probably still better off simply leaving the company rather than making a stink. Why? Because you will not be making any friends by backing management into a corner. If you simply accept the position and quietly look for a new job, then at least you might get some decent references from your old boss when you leave.

Conclusion

I'm sorry, but this is not a war you are going to win. In fact, even starting the fight would be a losing move. There is simply no way to bring this up without sabotaging your future with that company, and possibly cutting ties with people who could be instrumental in you getting a new job (by giving you glowing references).

Good luck.

  • The OP may have more of a case than you imply. Though it depends on legal jurisdiction. In most Western locales, it sounds like there's sufficient evidence to argue that a contract (both verbal and written) was offered and accepted at the higher rate of pay. If that's the case, the company can't really get off by saying "oops, that was a typo, so we won't pay you what we promised". That would technically be a breach of the contract that the OP accepted. The OP made a decision based upon the offer that was presented; the employer can't unilaterally change the offer after the fact. – aroth Nov 18 '15 at 1:09
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    @AndreiROM - Really good answer. I will forward you $50 just for the good advice. – blankip Nov 18 '15 at 1:58
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    Sorry that was just a typo! – blankip Nov 18 '15 at 2:01
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    @blankip - a type? Did you actually mean $5000? :-P – AndreiROM Nov 18 '15 at 4:32
  • @aroth for reference, I'm in Massachusetts, USA... and without asking for actual legalese arguments that can potentially take me down a rabit hole, the idea of the written contract is last leg that I could stand on in case all else fails. – Geto Nov 18 '15 at 17:27
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Here's where I stand today. I replied to the revised letter that is not fair to me to change the employment conditions after we've reached agreement, and to please honor our original agreement. That was yesterday, I have not heard back from Comp, so that's probably a good sign. I will follow up today or tomorrow like this:

1) As a matter of Principle they should uphold their word, if this was a mistake, to own their mistake as they expect from me to own my mistakes. I value their word and their honor more than any binding contract.

2) $500 to an institution with hundreds of millions in revenue is nothing, but $500 to a family of four means a lot.

3) A bit of employment history, during the '09-'10 economic downturn, I did the job of two people without extra compensation, my efforts helped save a lot more than $500, so they owe me that.

4) I've been with the company for a long time, promoted once again because of my capacity, knowledge and experience, I know they expect me to fight for what's right for the company, but I will fight with the same tenacity for what's right for my family. I don't want to settle, I'm sure they would never want me to settle either.

I will let you know how it goes.

  • I'm not sure you want to use the line "own their mistake as they expect from me to own my mistakes." You have certainly made mistakes in your long career with the company for which you received little or no punishment. If you now require draconian punishment for their mistakes, they may start requiring it for yours. – Mohair Nov 18 '15 at 19:10
  • Points 1, 2, 3, 4, are not arguments. They are your personal reactions. If you raised any of them with me or my firm we'd be frustrated at you wasting our time and you would not achieve your desired outcome. I strongly recommend you rethink your approach. – gef05 Nov 18 '15 at 19:50
  • Well, I lost but I accepted the job anyways. – Geto Nov 19 '15 at 15:34
  • I never got an answer straight from Comp, they always communicated thru my HR rep, which is who made the initial X offer, so it was hard to argue with her. I didn't see much support here either, so it looks like overall this was a losing battle. I'm curious to hear from @gef05 as apparently I don't know the difference between an argument and opinion (I'm being honest, I'm going to look into this). Thank you all, this was a fun first post. – Geto Nov 19 '15 at 15:49

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