What canI do about an adverse action taken against me at work?

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What canI do about an adverse action taken against me at work?

The company I am employed by was part of a merger about 16 months ago. Afterwards, we went through the process of standardizing the job titles. As part of this the average market value for each of these titles was established, an upper and lower limit was set and this range was called a salary band. As part of the calculation for yearly merit increases, where your salary is relative to the average in your band affects the amount of you raise. I am the head of my department (materials manager) and went through all the positions of my employees with HR matching them to their equivalent new title. Mine matched up with the title of Inventory and Material Planning manager and my job responsibilities actually exceeded most of the ones in this job description (none were less). When we were done that is what I believed my new title would be. I recently received an e-mail from a corporate employee asking for info. It had a list attached with several names along with their titles and one was mine. Next to my name was the title of Planning Supervisor which is a lower level position in the same department (my job responsibilities far exceed the responsibility limits of this job description). I checked to see if this was a mistake and found out that during the review process and HR VP (which I have never met) decided to arbitrarily demote me without my knowledge. This title is obviously much less distinguished, it will change my relationship with some of my peers, and will cause me a good bit of embarrassment. Worse of all, our review process is about to begin and now my salary will shift to the top of the band for this title change. Now I will receive a much smaller increase then I would of if I was still at the manager level. I have no interest in a supervisor position and this has sent my career back 8-10 years; it also has lowered my potential income ability short term. If not for the miscellaneous e-mail I wouldn’t have found out until my review (my boss is an operational VP that lives 1,500 mile away and I hardly know). What can I do?

Asked on March 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract? If you do not, you are an employee at will and your employer may terminate, demote, promote, give raises, reduce pay, reassign, change titles and duties, suspend, discipline, etc. you at will, at any time, for any reason--including for "arbitrary" reasons. If you are indeed an employee at will, even if an action is adverse to you, the company may take it, so long as they are neither:

1) Discriminating against you because of your membership in protected category, e.g. race, religion, age over 40, sex, disability (this doesn't mean they can't demote yout, by the way, if you are an African American 55 year old disabled Muslim women--to use an example invoking all the categories; it just means they can't demote you *because* of your categorical membership).

2) Retaliating against you for filing a protected complaint previously, such as an overtime or discrimination.

Otherwise, employees at will have essentially no workplace protections. If there is a contract, though, they have to honor it.


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