Offer Letter Not Honored by Employer

I am working with a small non-profit start up (approx.23 employees).  Employees were given offer letters but after about a month the owners wife decided she didn't want to pay what was stated in the offer and just lowered the pay without even telling the employees!  Has anyone had experience with a situation like this? I am curious as to what happened.

I advised them to get legal counsel specializing in employment law since she is a loose
canon and this is only one of the many things she has done on
her own.


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • An offer letter is considered a binding contract. Owner's wife should have consulted legally to avoid consequences.
  • Doesn't matter is she doesn't want to pay them that amount or not.  An offer letter is binding.  She has to pay.  Get a good employment law attorney because it sounds like you are going to need it!  Good luck!!
  • I will have to agree with the other posters that you will need a lawyer, and pretty quick! I do not agree that offer letters rise to the level of a binding contract, as this is such a blanket statement and is not always the case. No one here can say if your offer letters are legally enforceable as none of us have read your letter (and most of us are not attorneys.) Have the employment law attorney look over your offer letter and explain the situation. The attorney will advise if there will be any legal recourse for this woman's thoughtless actions.
  • An offer letter is binding to the extent it is an offer for a job that matches the characteristics listed in the letter at the time the job is taken.  It would be a big step to go from there to the conclusion that the employer cannot change the rate of pay based solely on the mere existence of an offer letter.  Does the offer mention a guarantee of employment for a length of time or specify that it will maintain pay and benefits indefinitely or anything else like that?


    On the other hand, even if the offer letter doesn't have such details, people accept jobs in different circumstances.  If someone left a job to work at the new company and then took a net loss in pay, there could be problems.  If a jury can be convinced that the offer was made fraudulently, perhaps even only incompetently, and others were damaged by their reliance on that letter such as in the situation I just described, there could be problems.  Not all states will handle this the same way; it's not a matter of federal employment law unless there's an underlying race/sex/etc. issue.  Rather, it's a matter of state contract law.


    I would say to the owner, (A) get wife properly trained or her authority properly curtailed and (B) seek legal advice ASAP.

  • Thanks for the responses; they were in line with what I knew to be correct. This offer letter was pretty specific on what it covered.

    I met with the husband and wife today and gave them a mini lesson on employment law 101.  I again advised them to seek legal employment law counsel but I am pretty sure that will not happen.  All I can do is give them advice..

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