Can my employer demote me due to being disabled for the past 6 months?

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2012

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Can my employer demote me due to being disabled for the past 6 months?

There is no union in place.

Asked on March 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The answer is "maybe" or "it depends."

The law prohibits discriminating in employment against someone because he or she is disabled. However, the obligation on employers is only to make "reasonable accomodations," which are accomodations in duties, equipment, facilities, etc. which are not too costly or disruptive. An employer is not required to pay someone to do a job which he or she simply  cannot do. So if the demotion is not punishment, harassment, discrimination, etc. for being disabled, but is because you could not do your old job and are being given a job which you can do, that might be legal.

Also, while the employer may not discriminate due to disability, being disabled does not prevent the employer from taking action based on other grounds. For example, if you had unexcused absences or performance problems, your employer may be able to demote you for those reasons, even if you were disabled at the time.

It is therefore a very fact- or context-sensitive issue: in many situations, demoting a disabled worker is illegal, but there are some circumstances where it may be permissible. For a more definitive answer about your precise situation, you should consult in detail with an employment law attorney. Good luck.

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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