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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My manager accused me of violating company policy and having

Customer Question

My manager accused me of violating company policy and having poor work performance. when in fact I have documentation from other associates that support manager embellishing and denying the truth. In lieu of this, I was demoted from assistant Mgr. to just a part time clerk, and wages reduced from (28.79 salary) to $16 an hr. How do I fight this?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. This is incredibly unfortunate to hear and I'm so sorry about your demotion.

Unfortunately, the laws in this area strongly favor the employer. It is, after all, the large corporations that have the money to lobby Washington and the state legislature.

Absent an employment contract guaranteeing you employment for a specified period of time in your previous position, you are what is known as an "at will" employee. More specifically, California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other."

What this means is that your employer is free to terminate you or demote you for any reason whatsoever, even a reason that is entirely unfair, unless the underlying motivation is discriminatory or otherwise in violation of California law.

Accordingly, an employee in this circumstance would have no legal entitlement to their previous position and rate of pay, unless one of the above-mentioned exceptions was satisfied.

You mention depression, and under certain very limited circumstances this can qualify as a "disability" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which would entitle you to certain limited job protections.

The determination of what constitutes a qualifying disability is a complex issue, but in general, in order to have a “disability” you must have a mental or physical condition that “significantly impairs a major life activity,” be generally regarded as having such condition, and have a medically documented record of having such a condition.

According to the most recent Supreme Court decision, this analysis requires the courts to review whether the person is able to perform the tasks of daily living (washing, brushing teeth, fixing meals, housecleaning, etc.), and decide if the person is significantly more impaired in those tasks than other persons in the population who are not “disabled.” It also requires the courts to consider the person’s abilities with corrective devices, such as prostheses and medication, but may consider side effects that result from medication. For more information on what constitutes a qualifying disability, visit this link:

If a person is “disabled” in accordance with the ADA's definition, is having difficulty performing his/her job, and the employer knows that the reason for the difficulty is the employee’s disability, then the employer may have a duty to reasonably accommodate the employee, as long as it will not pose an undue burden on the employer to do so. In determining whether a reasonable accommodation is available, and would actually work in helping the employee do his/her job, both the employer and employee had required to talk to each other and consider each other’s ideas. An employee is not entitled to the accommodation he/she wants – he/she is only entitled to an accommodation that works.

If your depression qualified as a disability under the Act, your employer had reason to know of your depression and failed to first try to reasonably accommodate your condition before demoting you, a valid discrimination claim may exist. Otherwise, an employer in this circumstance would be free to demote you, despite the demotion being extremely unfair.

If you have any questions or concerns whatsoever regarding my answer, please do not hesitate to ask for clarification. I'm so sorry that I could not provide you with better news.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the very best of luck. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Please abide by the honor code of this website by kindly clicking on the GREEN ACCEPT button if my answer has been helpful to you. Thank you very much.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you very much for clarifying that question for me. i was not aware of the details in which an "at will" associate meant. I do have another question? I've been employed with this company since 1995 originally it was Lucky supermarket.....then save mart.... since 95 up until the 1-28 I have worked anywhere from 8-10 to 12-18 hrs. or more a week of free time and was never compensated for any of it. I even worked a 23.5 hr. day once and was only paid for 8. this took place the week of 5-21-04. As a matter of fact if anyone reviewed the cameras at work you will see me arrive at 7:00am and leave for the night at 12:05 am on 1-13-12. I was only paid for 8 hrs. One of the reasons for me getting demoted was, the free timing is against policy, when in fact the same manager who accused me of these things openly told all the dept. heads in my store at our weekly sales meeting that only him and I were allowed to be there on our own time.He's off at 5pm and he stays at work until 10-11pm every night!! Yet I get the demotion. Because let's be real, the amount of work that is expected of us Mgr.'s is nowhere in the realm of possibly being completed in the time frame given. This has went on for years. That's not my concern. My concern is ......isn't there a law regarding labor per salaried associate's that even after so much time worked in a day or a week we are entitled to some overtime? I've been an employee for 17 years, out of those 17 I have been in mgt. 14 of them. I have been a salary associate for the last 8 years, I have never been compensated once for overtime or have I gotten a raise lover the last 4.5 years.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you very much for your followup, and I'm so happy that you found my initial answer helpful.

Salaried employees are entitled to overtime unless they fall into one of the few categories of "overtime exempt" employees. Exemptions are provided for certain managerial employees, administrative employees, and professional employees, for example. For more information regarding the exemptions to overtime, read this guide:

ALL salaried employees must receive a salary that amount to twice the minimum wage ($8/hr) for all hours worked.

So, unless an employee falls within one of the few exemptions from overtime and makes a salary twice the minimum wage for all hours worked, he or she would be entitled to overtime for all hours worked in excess of 8 per day or 40 per week. Provided an employer complies with these rules, they may require employees to work as many hours as they'd like.

I hope this helps clarify and I wish you the very best.

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