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Artist-in-Residence Fighting for Back Pay

October 01, 2000

Q I am an artist-in-residence, where half of my pay has been housing and half a cash stipend.

Recently my nonprofit employer refused to pay my cash stipend and decided I will now work for housing only. I asked for my back pay and was slapped with an eviction notice.

Can an employer change a working agreement of two years unilaterally?

--L.R., Venice


A An employee is entitled to be paid for all hours worked at the rate that was in effect when the work was performed.

Unless it has entered into a contract to the contrary, an employer can change the terms of an employment arrangement at any time. If the employee continues to work there after the wage rate has been changed, it will be at the new rate.

However, the employer is required to pay the employee for all hours worked prior to the change at the rate that was in effect before the change.

--Deborah C. Saxe

Management attorney

Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe

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