Can an employer require an associate to perform management functions?

I work for a large retail company with most of their shops in airports. My current title is Team Leader which is considered a supervisory position and has management responsibilities. The company is in the midst of restructuring which primarily consist of eliminating all Team Leader and Senior Team Leader positions. In their place will be a new Zone Manager position. Anyone not becoming a Zone Manager will be demoted to Sales Associate. Currently, there are management responsibilities that Sales Associates are being required to perform. I have verified this by obtaining current job descriptions of Sales Associate and Zone Manager. Although this is a large company, I work in a small airport with a single retail shop. This results in our location having only a General Manager and a Zone Manager which is not enough management to cover all functions that management is responsible for. There will be no other management. Current sales associates are required to perform functions clearly outlined in job descriptions as management responsibilities. I have contacted my HR department, but have not yet heard back. I feel they will likely tell me that because of the small size of our location that Sales Associates must perform some management functions. To my knowledge, there is no policy confirming this. Can the company legally require a Sales Associate to perform management functions as part of their regular duties? If I refuse to perform these functions can they take action against me or would that be considered retaliation or reprisal?

Asked on December 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have a union agreement or employment contract with an outline of your specific duties, then you are an "at will" worker. This means that your company can set the conditions of your employment much as it sees fit (absent some form of actionable discrimination). Accordingly, as a sales associate you can be required to perform management functions as part of your regular job. If you find this to be unacceptable, you can either refuse these duties and risk termination or you can quit. Those are your only options.

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