What constitutes workplace discrimination?t

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What constitutes workplace discrimination?t

My wife was a GM for a pizza shop. She was recently demoted for a guy who moved here from California. She has more experience and is still out performing him. She has been emotionally distressed and feels belittled ever since it happened. He owner brought on this guy because “they couldn’t let him go”. She took about a $600 pay cut a month. Is this discrimination?

Asked on January 4, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If there was no reason other than sex-based discrimination, then this may have been illegal  discrimination. You say that your wife had more experience than the new person and outperforms him; that suggests this may be discrimiantion, since that eliminates two of the most obvious non-discriminatory reasons for this action.

On the other hand, if the new person is personal friend, long-time associate, or family member of the owner, then this would most likely not be discrimination, since the law allows an employer to make hiring and promotion descisions based on personal and family relationships. Other possible non-discriminatory reasons include if he was an investor in the business; if he has valuable connections (e.g. to suppliers); or if he some other relevant and valuable skills or credentials, like (for example) a strong marketing background and the owner wants  to do more marketing. If you can eliminate all likely non-discriminatory reasons and there's nothing reasonable left, then you may have a discrimination case and should either discuss the matter  with an employment law attorney or contact your state equal or civil rights division.


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