What are my rights if I was wrongfully demoted from being a supervisor?

I was over 18 route technicians. However, 2 African Americans technicians were subpar employees, which even the district manager knows. They are both below what company standards are. One of them, a female, met with president, regional vice president and district manager several days ago and I was subsequently demoted. His reasoning was, that it wasn’t working out. I’ve been with this company going on 9 years, supervisor 18 months. I never miss work and work over 70 hours a week. Do I have any options?

Asked on August 14, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF you believe (and believe the facts will support) that you were demoted because of your race--i.e. if you were not African American as are those two other technicians you mention, that you were discriminated against because you are not African American--then you may have a case for illegal workplace discrimination: the law says that you cannot make employment decisions or take employment action based on a person's race. If you think this is the case, one way to explore your claim is to contact either the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state's equal/civil rights agency and file a complaint.

Bear in mind that unless you had a contract (including a union contract) which is being violated (and if you did, then you may have a breach of contract claim or lawsuit), illegal discrimination such as racial discrimination is essentially the only "wrongful" demotion or other employment action. Employers are allowed to make unfair decisions or stupid decisions, or to favor one person over another as long as the favoritism is not based on race, sex, religion, age over 40, disability, etc.--but favoring one person because he/she is a friend or more likeable is definitely legal. So if your demotion was due to any reason other than illegal discrimination, it is probably not wrongful, even if it is unfair.


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