Free Case Evaluation




FREE Case Evaluation

100% Free Consultation


FREE Case Evaluation

Can You Sue Your Employer For Cutting Your Hours?

Posted on: December 14, 2023

PN Editor
December 14, 2023

Can You Sue Your Employer For Cutting Your Hours?

Legal Grounds for Suing an Employer for Cutting Your Hours

Employees may have legal grounds to sue their employer for cutting their hours if it violates their employment contract, a collective bargaining agreement, or any applicable labor laws. In some cases, reducing an employee’s working hours without justification can be considered a breach of contract. Additionally, if the reduction in hours is discriminatory or retaliatory in nature, it may also provide grounds for a lawsuit.

Employment laws vary by jurisdiction, so it is important to consult with an attorney familiar with local labor laws to determine the specific legal grounds for suing an employer over reduced work hours. They can assess the situation and advise on whether there are valid legal claims based on the circumstances.

Examples of Situations Where an Employer May Be Sued for Reducing an Employee’s Working Hours

There are various situations where an employer may be sued for reducing an employee’s working hours. Some examples include:

  • An employer disproportionately reduces the hours of employees who belong to a protected class under anti-discrimination laws.
  • An employer cuts an employee’s hours in retaliation for engaging in legally protected activities such as whistleblowing or filing a complaint against the company.
  • An employer reduces the hours of employees who have requested reasonable accommodations under disability laws.
  • An employer cuts an employee’s hours without providing proper notice or following any contractual obligations outlined in employment agreements or collective bargaining agreements.

In these situations, affected employees may have legal grounds to sue their employers for unjustly reducing their working hours.

Protection Against Unjustified Reductions in Working Hours Under Employment Law

Employment law provides certain protections against unjustified reductions in working hours. These protections vary depending on the jurisdiction and applicable labor laws. In general, employment laws aim to prevent employers from engaging in discriminatory or retaliatory practices when reducing an employee’s working hours.

For example, anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from reducing an employee’s hours based on their race, gender, age, disability, or other protected characteristics. Similarly, retaliation laws protect employees from having their hours reduced as a form of punishment for engaging in protected activities such as reporting workplace violations.

Employees should familiarize themselves with the specific employment laws in their jurisdiction to understand the protections available to them against unjustified reductions in working hours.

Laws and Regulations Addressing Employers Cutting Employees’ Work Hours

Laws and regulations addressing employers cutting employees’ work hours can vary depending on the jurisdiction. However, there are some common legal provisions that may apply:

Federal Labor Laws

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage and overtime requirements at the federal level but does not specifically address reductions in work hours.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain rights to eligible employees who need time off due to family or medical reasons but does not directly address reductions in work hours.

State Labor Laws

  • Many states have their own labor laws that may provide additional protections for employees facing reductions in work hours. These laws can vary widely from state to state.
  • Some states have “predictive scheduling” laws that require employers to give advance notice of schedule changes or provide compensation for last-minute changes that result in reduced work hours.

In addition to these specific laws, employment contracts, collective bargaining agreements, and company policies may also govern reductions in work hours and provide additional protections for employees.

Steps to Take if Your Employer Unfairly Cuts Your Working Hours

1. Review your employment contract and company policies

Before taking any action, it is important to thoroughly review your employment contract and company policies to understand your rights and obligations. Look for any clauses related to working hours, reductions in hours, or dispute resolution procedures.

2. Communicate with your employer

Initiate a conversation with your employer to express your concerns about the unfair reduction in working hours. Clearly communicate how this change affects you financially and inquire about the reasons behind the decision. It is possible that there may have been a misunderstanding or miscommunication that can be resolved through open dialogue.

3. Document everything

Keep detailed records of all communication with your employer regarding the reduction in working hours. This includes emails, memos, or any other written correspondence. Additionally, document any financial losses or negative impacts resulting from the reduced hours.

List of documents to keep:

  • Emails or letters discussing the reduction in working hours
  • Payslips showing decreased income
  • Budgets or financial statements demonstrating the impact on your finances
  • Any relevant employment contracts or policies

Taking these initial steps will help you gather evidence and establish a strong foundation for potential legal action if necessary.

The Importance of Consulting with a Lawyer Before Suing an Employer for Reduced Work Hours

Consulting with a lawyer before pursuing legal action against your employer is crucial due to several reasons.

Firstly, an experienced employment lawyer can assess the strength of your case based on their knowledge of labor laws and previous similar cases. They can provide an objective evaluation of whether you have grounds for a lawsuit and the likelihood of success.

Secondly, a lawyer can guide you through the legal process, ensuring that all necessary paperwork is filed correctly and within the required deadlines. They can also help you navigate any alternative dispute resolution methods that may be available, such as mediation or arbitration.

Lastly, a lawyer can advocate on your behalf and negotiate with your employer to reach a fair settlement without going to court. They have the expertise to handle negotiations effectively and protect your rights throughout the process.

When consulting with a lawyer, consider:

  • Seeking recommendations from trusted sources or professional organizations
  • Researching lawyers specializing in employment law
  • Scheduling initial consultations to discuss your case and assess their experience and approach

Remember, consulting with a lawyer does not necessarily mean you have to proceed with legal action. It simply provides you with valuable advice and guidance to make informed decisions about your situation.

Factors Considered by Courts When Determining the Lawfulness of Reduced Work Hours

1. Employment Contracts and Agreements:

Courts will typically examine the terms and conditions outlined in the employment contract or agreement between the employer and employee. If the contract explicitly allows for reduced work hours under certain circumstances, such as economic downturns or unforeseen events, the court may consider this as a lawful basis for reducing hours.

2. Business Necessity:

Courts also take into account whether the reduction in work hours was necessary for legitimate business reasons. Employers must demonstrate that there was a genuine need to reduce hours due to factors such as financial difficulties, restructuring, or changes in market demand. The court will assess whether the employer explored alternative measures before resorting to reducing work hours.

3. Compliance with Employment Laws:

Employers must ensure that any reduction in work hours complies with applicable employment laws, such as minimum wage requirements, overtime regulations, and provisions related to employee benefits. Failure to adhere to these laws may render the reduction in work hours unlawful.

It is important to note that each jurisdiction may have specific factors considered by courts when determining the lawfulness of reduced work hours. Consulting with an employment attorney familiar with local labor laws can provide further guidance.

Exceptions or Circumstances Where Employers Can Legally Reduce Employees’ Working Hours Without Facing Lawsuits

1. Voluntary Agreement:

If an employee voluntarily agrees to a reduction in working hours, either temporarily or permanently, without coercion or duress from the employer, it may be considered legal. This could occur through negotiations between both parties aimed at finding mutually agreeable solutions during challenging times.

2. Collective Bargaining Agreements:

In unionized workplaces, reductions in work hours may be addressed through collective bargaining agreements. If the reduction is agreed upon by the union and the employer, it can be legally implemented without facing lawsuits.

3. Force Majeure or Acts of God:

In exceptional circumstances such as natural disasters, pandemics, or other unforeseen events that significantly impact business operations, employers may be legally allowed to reduce working hours without facing legal repercussions. However, employers must still comply with any applicable employment laws and provide proper notice to employees.

It is crucial for employers to consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with specific laws and regulations governing their jurisdiction when considering reducing employees’ working hours.

Suing for Damages Resulting from Reduced Working Hours: Loss of Income or Benefits

When employees experience a loss of income or benefits due to reduced working hours, they may have grounds for filing a lawsuit against their employer seeking compensation. The damages sought typically include:

1. Lost Wages:

Employees can claim the wages they would have earned had their working hours not been reduced. This includes regular wages as well as any overtime pay that would have been earned during the affected period.

2. Lost Benefits:

If the reduction in work hours results in a loss of employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement contributions, or paid time off accruals, employees may seek compensation for these losses.

3. Emotional Distress:

In some cases, employees may also seek damages for emotional distress caused by the reduction in work hours if they can demonstrate that it resulted in significant hardship or financial strain.

It is important for individuals considering legal action to consult with an employment attorney who can assess the specific circumstances and advise on potential damages that may be recoverable based on applicable laws and regulations.

Time Limitations and Deadlines for Filing Lawsuits Against Employers for Cutting Work Hours

Statute of Limitations

In cases where an employee wants to file a lawsuit against their employer for cutting work hours, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations sets a time limit within which the employee must file their claim. This time limit varies depending on the jurisdiction and the specific nature of the claim. It is crucial to consult with an employment attorney or research the applicable laws in order to determine the deadline for filing a lawsuit.

Potential Extensions or Exceptions

In some situations, there may be potential extensions or exceptions to the standard statute of limitations. For example, if an employee was unaware that their work hours were being unjustly reduced until a later date, they may be able to argue that the clock should start ticking from that point rather than from when the reduction initially occurred. Additionally, certain circumstances such as fraud or intentional concealment by the employer may also warrant an extension of the filing deadline.

Importance of Timely Action

It is essential for employees who believe their work hours have been unfairly cut to take timely action and consult with legal professionals as soon as possible. Failing to meet the deadlines set by the statute of limitations could result in losing the opportunity to pursue legal recourse against their employer.

The Process of Filing a Lawsuit Against an Employer for Reducing Work Hours

Gathering Evidence and Documentation

To file a lawsuit against an employer for reducing work hours, it is crucial to gather evidence and documentation that supports your claim. This may include pay stubs, work schedules, emails or other written communication discussing the reduction in hours, and any relevant company policies or contracts. It is important to keep a record of any conversations or meetings with your employer regarding the reduction in hours.

Consulting with an Employment Attorney

Before proceeding with a lawsuit, it is advisable to consult with an employment attorney who specializes in labor laws. They can assess the strength of your case, provide guidance on potential legal avenues, and help you understand your rights as an employee. An attorney can also assist in negotiating with your employer or representing you in court if necessary.

Filing a Complaint with the Appropriate Agency

In some cases, before filing a lawsuit, employees may be required to file a complaint with the appropriate government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or state labor department. These agencies may investigate the complaint and attempt to mediate between the parties involved. If no resolution is reached through this process, they may issue a right-to-sue letter allowing you to proceed with a lawsuit.

Important Note:

It is essential to adhere to any deadlines or time limits for filing complaints or lawsuits against employers for reducing work hours. Failure to meet these deadlines could result in losing your right to pursue legal action.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods for Addressing Reduced Working Hour Issues without Going to Court


One alternative dispute resolution method for addressing reduced working hour issues without going to court is mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party, called a mediator, who helps facilitate communication and negotiation between the employer and employee. The mediator does not make decisions or impose solutions but instead assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. This process allows both parties to express their concerns and interests, explore potential solutions, and work towards a resolution that satisfies both sides. Mediation can be less formal and adversarial than litigation, providing a more collaborative approach to resolving disputes.


Another alternative dispute resolution method is arbitration. In arbitration, an impartial third party, known as an arbitrator, listens to both sides of the dispute and makes a binding decision. Unlike mediation, where the parties have control over the outcome, in arbitration, the arbitrator has the authority to render a final decision that is legally enforceable. Arbitration can be either voluntary or mandatory depending on the circumstances and may involve a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators. This method provides a more structured process compared to mediation but still offers an alternative to going through the court system.

Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

– Confidentiality: Both mediation and arbitration proceedings can be kept confidential, allowing parties to discuss sensitive matters without fear of public exposure.
– Cost-effective: Alternative dispute resolution methods are often less expensive than going to court since they typically involve fewer legal fees and shorter timeframes.
– Faster resolution: Mediation and arbitration processes can generally be completed more quickly than litigation, which can drag on for months or even years.
– Preservation of relationships: These methods focus on finding mutually agreeable solutions rather than assigning blame or fault, which can help maintain working relationships between employers and employees.

Potential Compensation Beyond Reinstatement of Original Working Hours in Successful Lawsuits against Employers

Back Pay

In successful lawsuits against employers for unjustly cutting work hours, employees may be entitled to back pay. Back pay refers to the wages and benefits that an employee would have earned if their hours had not been reduced unlawfully. This compensation aims to make the employee whole by reimbursing them for the financial losses suffered due to the reduction in working hours.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are another form of potential compensation beyond reinstatement of original working hours. These damages are intended to compensate the employee for any non-economic harm they have experienced as a result of the employer’s actions. Examples of compensatory damages may include emotional distress, mental anguish, or damage to reputation. The amount awarded will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and any evidence presented.

Factors Considered in Determining Compensation

– Length of time with reduced working hours: The longer an employee has experienced reduced working hours, the higher their potential compensation may be.
– Financial impact: The extent to which the reduction in working hours has affected the employee’s income and financial stability will be taken into account.
– Evidence of harm: The strength and credibility of evidence demonstrating emotional distress or other non-economic harm caused by the reduction in working hours will influence the amount awarded.
– Employer’s conduct: If it can be proven that the employer acted intentionally or maliciously in reducing work hours, it may increase the likelihood and amount of compensatory damages awarded.

Evidence to Support a Claim Against an Employer for Unjustly Cutting Work Hours

Work Schedules and Contracts

One crucial piece of evidence to support a claim against an employer for unjustly cutting work hours is the employee’s work schedule and any employment contracts or agreements. These documents can establish the agreed-upon working hours and provide a basis for comparison with the reduced hours imposed by the employer. Any discrepancies between the original terms and the actual reduction can help demonstrate a violation of the employment agreement.

Communication Records

Records of communication between the employee and employer regarding working hours can also serve as evidence. This includes emails, text messages, or written correspondence that discuss changes in working hours or any explanations provided by the employer for the reduction. Such records can help establish whether there was proper notice, justification, or consent for the reduction in working hours.

Additional Supporting Evidence

– Timecards or attendance records: These documents can demonstrate a decrease in scheduled shifts or hours worked.
– Witness statements: Testimonies from colleagues who have observed or experienced similar reductions in working hours may strengthen the claim.
– Performance evaluations: If an employee’s performance evaluations show consistently positive feedback prior to the reduction in working hours, it may indicate that their performance was not a legitimate reason for the cut.
– Comparative data: Providing evidence of other employees in similar positions who did not experience a reduction in working hours could support an argument of unfair treatment.

By presenting such evidence, employees can build a strong case against their employers for unjustly cutting work hours and increase their chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

In conclusion, it is possible to sue your employer for cutting your hours, but the outcome will depend on various factors such as employment contracts, labor laws, and the specific circumstances surrounding the reduction in hours. Seeking legal advice and understanding your rights as an employee is crucial when considering legal action against your employer.

Can an employer legally reduce your pay UK?

Your employer can only make changes to your contract if one of the following conditions is met: you give your consent to the change, your contract includes a provision allowing your employer to make specific changes (known as a ‘variation clause’), or there are changes in the law, such as a change in the National Minimum Wage rate.

Is 32 hours full time UK?

There is no set number of hours that defines someone as full-time or part-time, although typically full-time workers will work at least 35 hours per week. Part-time workers should receive equal treatment in terms of pay rates (including sick pay and parental leave), pension options, and benefits.

Can an employer reduce your hourly rate of pay in Texas?

It is legal to reduce pay rates, but it is important to note that pay cuts should not be applied retroactively. It is worth keeping in mind that if an employee experiences a pay cut of 20% or more, they may have valid grounds related to their work to resign and be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Can an employer reduce your hourly rate of pay without notice in Florida?

Due to the at-will employment policy in Florida, employers have the ability to decrease your pay for future work hours without prior notice. However, they are not allowed to reduce wages that you have already earned.

Do I have to accept a pay cut?

You have the option to either accept or reject the request, but keep in mind that your decision could have repercussions. Let’s explore the situations where it is appropriate to refuse a pay cut and the exceptional scenarios where it is advisable to accept.

Is 37.5 hours a week full time UK?

There is no official definition for full-time work, but most employers consider it to be around 35 hours or more per week. However, some roles may be classified as full-time with as few as 30 hours per week, which is often seen as the minimum requirement.

Schedule a Free Consultation