Can my employer legally demote me and promote someone from a lower pay scale to my former job?

UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011

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Can my employer legally demote me and promote someone from a lower pay scale to my former job?

I work for a MO state agency that is downsizing. I had to reapply in a competitive process for my job. I was demoted and someone from a lower pay scale was promoted to my position. I do not now or ever have had any kind of disciplinary action.

Asked on August 24, 2011 Missouri


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Are you a member of a union? If so, speak to your union rep and see what they have to say about this situation. If not, do you have an employment contract that would prohibit this action or does your demotion violate existing company policy, if any? If not, then has such action resulted from a form of discrimination? If the answer to that is no, then I'm afraid that you have no actionable claim against your employer.

Absent any of the above, Your employer is free to hire and fire as it see fits as well as set the terms and conditionsof employment.  This is known as "at will" employment; and most work relationships are. Consequently your demotion is perfectly permissible in the eyes of the law. Unfortunate, but that's those are the facts.

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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