Employment Law/retro pay


my wife just got hired at a doctor's office. she had asked for $30/hr, but the owner declined saying she will offer her $20/hr, but will retro pay her an additional $20/hr as long as she stays for 6 months. so essentially she will be getting $40/hr

her rationale is she wants a commitment from my wife and does not want to train her and have her leave.

she asked her to put this in writing but she refused citing it is "illegal". this is in new York city by the way. is this true?

we suspect the doctor is looking to hire someone cheap for 6 months as a temp, while another girl is going on vacation. please advise and thank you very much!

Jim - It depends on how the deal is written up, whether it is illegal or not.  If the terms are that wife will be paid $40.00 an hour but half will be withheld for six months, that is illegal.  If it is put in writing as a bonus of $20.00 per hour for every hour worked in the past six months, that is legal.  Wages cannot be withheld, but bonuses can be paid based on hours worked.  Same result as long as your wife stays for six months, and it can be in writing so that it is enforceable.

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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