Can an employer demote me because they don’t “think”Iwill be able to make it to work, even though i haven’t missed a day or been late in months?

UPDATED: Sep 4, 2011

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Can an employer demote me because they don’t “think”Iwill be able to make it to work, even though i haven’t missed a day or been late in months?

I’ve been working for my employer over 3 years. I was laid off 13 months ago in a management position. I was rehired as management and they just got a new project that they want me to transfer to, however they want to demote me back to entry level because my supervisor doesn’t think Iwill have a vehicle in the next 2 months. He assured me I wasn’t being demoted because of performance, or attendance he just doesn’t “know for sure” if I will be able to make it to work. So he replaced me with someone who doesn’t have a vehicle either.

Asked on September 4, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you have an employment contract or agreement guarantying your title, level, opportunities, salary, etc., that agreement may be enforced.

If you do not have such an agreement or contract, however, you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be demoted, transferred, have duties or title changed, pay reduced, etc.--or even be terminated entirely--at any time, for any reason, including simply that the employer wants to do any of these things. Thus, if you are an employee at will, your employer  "thinking" that a position will not work out for some reason--any reason--is enough for a demotion. Also, employers don't have to be consistent or fair in how they treat staff, with one exception: it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of a person's race, religion, age over 40, disability, or sex.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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