Can Human Resources demote me with a transfer?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can Human Resources demote me with a transfer?

A co-worker filed a claim with HR that I was creating a hostile work environment with no proof of this claim. When first informed I reached out to HR to explain what was really happening and explained that my issue is with my boss for not being fair and the lack of his communication with me, not my co-worker. I explained that I feel like it is difficult for him to take me seriously because everyone else is 40 or older and I am in my early 30’s. I provided specific examples and emails as proof. Me and my boss had 2 sessions with HR to work out our issue and determine how we would both work to prevent this moving forward. Next, I was advised that I would sit down with my coworker to discuss the issues that we have, even though I said I didn’t have any with her. Well, the meeting ended up getting canceled last week Friday. I was called into my bosses office yesterday and told that if I want to remain in this department that I need to do a complete 180-degree turn and stop saying things about him and the

co-worker, that said I created a hostile work environment, because some of it has gotten back to his wife who works for the same organization in a different department. I was given the option of remaining in my current situation or transferring to another department. If I opt to transfer, will I have say in where I go and can they demote me or alter my pay? Also, I have worked for this company for 5 years.

Asked on April 20, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unless this possible transfer/demotion/pay reduction violates the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, it is legal. The fact is that a company can set the conditions of work much as it sees fit, including who to demote, transfer or anything else for that matter. That is as long as no form of legally actionable discrimination is a factor (e.g. is based on your race, religion, disability age (over 40), national origin, etc.). 

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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