Can your employer change the job requirements/job description after years of employment?

UPDATED: Jul 13, 2015

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Can your employer change the job requirements/job description after years of employment?

Specifically, the employer has added a sales component to the job duties and is now threatening job loss as sales numbers have not improved. I need to know if they can rightfully threaten/terminate your job based on the aspect that was not at all a part of the job upon hire?

Asked on July 13, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Yes it can. While seemingly unfair, it is legal. That is unless this change of job duties violates company policy, a union agreement, employment contract or the like. Also, this change must not be due to actionable discrimination.

What employees typically do not realize is that most work relationships are "at will". This means that an employer can set the terms and conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes changing job requirements and terminating employees as a result (with or without notice). The fact is that an employer may discharge an employee for any reason or no reason at all.

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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