Can an employer change job qualifications after an incumbent has been in the position for 6 years?

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Can an employer change job qualifications after an incumbent has been in the position for 6 years?

I was recently terminated from my job because the organization has determined that a different skill set than what I possess is needed. I have not been offered or afforded any training to secure these skills. I am less than 3 years away from retirement. Could this possibly be grounds for wrongful termination or an age discrimination complaint?

Asked on April 23, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, if you do not have an employment contract defining or specifying your job duties, your employer is free to change requirements or necessary skill sets at any time, and to terminate employees who do not have the necessary skills.

The law does prohibit discriminating against employees over 40 on the basis of age. This does not mean that a 40+ year old employee cannot be fired--only that he/she cannot be fired because he or she is 40+. If there is some legitimate business reason for the change you describe--for example, your industry, market, technology, or customer requirements have changed--then it is most likely legal. But if there is no valid valid business reason for the change and you are over 40, this may be illegal discrimination--an effort to eliminate you due to your age--and you should speak with an employment law attorney to explore if you have a cause of action.


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