Oklahoma is an at-will employment state, which means an employer can end or change its working relationship with employees, such as by cutting a salary, at any time and for any reason. However, your salary cannot fall below the federal minimum wage if your employer is required by the state to pay its employees minimum wage.
If your employer has more than 10 employees or grosses more than $100,000 a year, then state labor laws require her to pay her employees at least the minimum wage, which in 2013 is $7.25 an hour. If your employer does not meet these minimum wage thresholds, she can pay you a rate below $7.25 an hour.
Wage and Hour Unit
If your employer is required to pay its employees minimum wage and cuts your salary such that you earn less than $7.25 an hour, then you may have legal grounds to dispute the pay cut. To complain about such a pay cut, you can contact Oklahoma’s Department of Labor, which would then refer your claim to its Wage and Hour Unit. This unit advocates for the state’s workforce and investigates wage-related claims.
Exempt vs. Non-Exempt
State and federal labor laws cover exempt and non-exempt employees differently. Exempt employees tend to earn a salary and not wages by the hour, while non-exempt employees earn an hourly wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay exempt employees their normal wage when they have jury duty, minus any income they earn during their service. The Act does not cover non-exempt employees. However, Oklahoma employers can put in place a policy that says employees who serve for extended periods of time will not earn pay on weeks they do not work at all, which in effect could legally, albeit temporarily, cut your salary.
Pay For Days Off
Oklahoma employers do not have to pay you for any time you do not work, such as on a company-wide holiday when the business closes. Your employer also does not legally have to pay you when you stay home sick or take a vacation. Even if your employer sends you home before the end of your scheduled shift, if you are a non-exempt employee, your employer only has to pay you for the hours you worked. Salaried employees will likely receive their full pay regardless of how many hours they worked.
Employers in Oklahoma can legally withhold state and federal taxes and FICA from your salary, which will affect your take-home pay. The state’s Wage and Hour Unit can help you if you feel your employer is withholding more than she legally should.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.