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What is the name of your state? New York

My husband has took a job with a lumber company about 2 1/2 years ago. He was asked to leave his current job at that time with the promise of many rewards and of more money, fringe benefits, and much more. Most of this did not happen. As a matter of fact, due to this change, 90 % of the promises that were made were never kept. We ended up using all of our retirement and then filed bankruptcy. This employer has changed my husbands wages 4 different times. Now, it is the most severe. The employer told (only a selected number of people) some of the employees on Friday that if sales did not dramatically increase by that following Monday, 10 people would lose their jobs. This was absolutely and impossibility....it was definitely a blatant move on their part to try and get rid of some of their current employees. I felt that my husband's job probably didn't want to pay unemployment compensation so they made it impossible to work there; I don't know....???

When my husbands employer had a meeting with him on Monday, they told him that he will now (starting August 1, 2002) be getting $19000 instead of the $36000 his was originally making. That was a $17000 cut in pay. With everything from the bankruptcy and child support payments coming out of my husbands check, we will have to pay his employer to work. We will have to pay $100.00 weekly to our employer. They told him take the cut or get another job. They said he will now get $19000.00 plus 5 % commission on sales.....when they let him leave the store. Not only that, he is on salary and they make him work more than 40 hours a week. It has been so horrible. There has to be something to stop them. they are so wrong. His job even raised his health insurance twice. We went from paying $150.00 a month to now $300.00 a month.

Another terrible thing that the employer does is they record all phone calls and know one is aware of it. They literally tape phone conversations and then use them against you. For example, when my husband was working 80 hours a week and not including business people coming to our home, I called my husband at work and told him it was against the law. Because the phones were being taped, they stopped all the overtime for the past month.

If there is anyone that can help me to understand what our rights are, your advice would be greatly appreciated!

thank you gratefully,


Senior Member
If your husband was purposefully and knowingly lied to about the conditions of his employment to induce him to accept the job, then that is actionable and you should consult with an attorney. If the employer has encountered business difficulties that have made it not possible to extend to him the salary and benefits they intended to, it's not. An employer is not obligated to have a crystal ball and forsee that things aren't going to turn out as they hoped/planned.

If your husband is in an exempt position, there is no requirement for him to be paid OT. And whether he is non-exempt or exempt, there is no limit on how many hours he may be required to work. A few States have a "one day of rest in seven" statute however I don't think NY is one of those.

An employer may cut wages as long as (1) they give advance notice and (2) they're still paying at least minimum wage.

Many employers are having to increase employee group health contributions nation-wide. For the last several years, premium increases to employers for medical coverage have been higher than ever before. I know of some employers that have had a 100% increase. My own company was just presented with a 39% increase from our carrier.

Unless you have positive proof that phone calls are being taped, I don't see any reason to leap to that conclusion, particularly as in the instance you site, working 80 hours/week is not against the law. Could be the reduction in OT was coincidental and due to low sales.

Regarding your statement that due to the bankruptcy and child support "we will have to pay $100 weekly to the employer," what may be the appropriate thing to do is to get those payments reduced via the court system as I expect the were determined when your husband was making a considerably higher salary.

As far as I can tell, nothing illegal is going on here - just an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances. It appears your husband accepted a job with a company that soon found itself in severe financial hot water and drastically reduced sales. Given the repeated and unaffordable pay cuts, I can't imagine why he's continued to work there for 2-1/2 years but it certainly seems he should start looking for a new job immediately.


re: reply

Hi Beth,

I don't have the words to say thank you for answering my questions....

I wanted to just say that this company is not hard pressed at all. In fact, they are buying other lumber yards.

...and, as for my husband choosing to work there for 2 1/2 years.....????? I don't understand why either. I think it is because (and...sometimes I am too) he is afraid of us really falling apart. After what has happened and now that we have no more resources, I know he so afraid. We are a family of 5. I don't know what we'll do. I work and he works, but its just not enough since this terrible job. I guess if we think about it, it should only get better..I think???

...We've never been afraid to take a chance until now....we don't want to make anymore mistakes...

thank you so much,



Senior Member
Actually, it can sometimes make financial sense for a business in trouble to acquire other businesses. On the other hand, it's possible they're overextended and are struggling under the debt burden of the businesses they've already acquired. Or it could be they're just cheap SOB's. Obviously, none of us knows.

Given that your husband is being paid at a level that simply cannot sustain his family and other obligations, it certainly seems his best option by far is to look for a new job with a more stable employer. It appears he is risking considerably more by staying put than by looking for something new.

Best of luck to you.

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