Question: I am an administrative assistant to a Director and have been negotiating a pay step increase since July 2007. My current boss was in support of this increase based on the additional job duties I took on since my employment (12/06). I just found out that the additional job duties I was negotiating have now become a new job description and it was given to me via email this week. I did not agree to this because the additional job duties were based on receiving a salary increase. What are my options? I’ve talked to my boss and he’s lost his backbone and I feel I’m in this alone.

Janet, Fallbrook, CA

Answer: People always have options in dealing with their employers, and you have several options in this situation. I’d suggest you take the facts to the decision-makers – just as you’ve taken the facts to me – and present your case for a raise in light of the added responsibilities you fulfill.

You have three great arguments on your side: (a) first, that you and your employer had reached a “deal” that you’d get a raise in return for the added responsibilities, (b) second, that it is a violation of company policy – and ethical guidelines – to break a promise, or dishonor a commitment, and (c) your own boss was in support of your raise.

Never threaten, but don’t be afraid to confront the problem: in a 100% respectful email, without accusations or anger, bring both “the problem” and “the solution” to the attention of the company’s HR Director, with the facts and the arguments above, and request a written response at their “earliest opportunity.” Remind them that you are loyal, hard-working and patient, and remind them, too, of the significant role you play in support of your boss. I think you’ll have more success than you might imagine.

Best, Al Sklover

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