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Can you quit in Texas due to a reduction of pay or hours

by 22Capricorn
(Houston, Texas, Harris)

I quit my job in Texas for what I thought was good reason and was denied unemployment benefits. I am of course appealing the decision.


I was offered a job for $9.00 per hour for 20 hours per week. I refused the offer and explained to the employer that I would need at least $900.00 per month (part-time). He then offered me 25 hours per week at $9.00 per hour thus giving me the required $900 per month.

I did not realize even at the time I was being set up for failure. He kept insisting on saying $9.00 per hour. He said if he was satisfied with my performance he would increase the pay because he only wanted someone to work 20 hours per week. (Pay close attention to the words being used people).

After three months I asked about the raise in pay and lowering of the hours. He informed me that his other employee did not get a raise until after a year. I informed him that was not our agreement. I did not take his meaning during our interview to mean a year.

After three more months I again asked him about our original agreement. This time in writing. He informed me that he did not "want" to pay $11.25 per hour that would keep our agreed amount of $900.00 per month. He offered $9.50 per hour (per hour again)for 20 hours dropping my salary to $760.00 per month. Not in writing. In writing it read I offer $9.50 "per hour". Then he said what do we do now? I informed him that I would be looking for another job. I went to the WEC to ask questions as what I should do. Was only told I had to make that decision they could not advise me. I quit.

I applied for unemployment benefits and was denied. I am now waiting on the appeal hearing. I feel that I did have good cause and can't understand why I was denied. I was told their decision was based on the fact I was paid what was agreed on. But the new salary was not what we agreed to. I believe the word play is causing the problem. They continue to say per hour yet never take notice of the $900 per month agreed on. Not per hour but per month. Not sure what to do to prove my case. Can anyone direct me on what action to take or what direction to take.


A.

Hi 22Capricorn,

Texas, like most other states require that the quit be attributable to the work. This is what it says on their website:

Unemployment benefits are for those who are out of work through no fault of their own. The burden of proving "fault" is on the party initiating the work separation. A claimant who quit his last work must show that he had good cause connected with the work for resigning. TWC has long defined "good cause" as any reason, connected with the work, that would lead an employee who is otherwise interested in remaining employed to nonetheless leave employment. This, of course, is a "reasonable employee" standard. Good cause to quit has been found in cases involving drastic cuts in pay or hours, other substantial and adverse changes in the work, prolonged and unaddressed harassment of the worker by the employer or its agents, or egregious acts of misconduct by the employer toward the worker. In most cases, the claimant must also show that he gave the employer reasonable notice that he was so dissatisfied he was considering resignation.

I also found this page which tells us Texas considers a 20 percent reduction in pay or hours to be drastic.

Now let's examine your math. 20 x 9.50 = 190 x 52 = 9880 ÷ 12 = $823 per month. Previously you had been earning 25 x 9.00 = 225 x 52 = 11700 ÷ 12 = $975

A twenty percent reduction in pay would be $195. You were earning $152 less per month.

Since your case, based on reduction of hours and pay is weak, you might consider focusing on the agreement you believe the employer did not live up to and because you tell us it was verbal and not written...that will be a tough thing to do.

I don't think your appeal will be successful, but you never know. There are a lot of elements to an appeal hearing, some of which we have no control over.

What I got from your description of the events was that you were insistent on earning at least $900 dollars a month PLUS you didn't want to work more than twenty hours a week and the employer either wouldn't or couldn't pay you 11.25 an hour, which by the way is $975 a month.

Texas is a very employer friendly state. As for the state telling you they can't advise you, well they can't give legal advice, just like anything here is not legal advice, but they could have directed you to the information I linked to above...you might have made a better decision about quitting in Texas.

Chris

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