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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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I have worked for the same doctor for over 30 yrs. Its a small

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I have worked for the same doctor for over 30 yrs. It's a small 7 employee practice. Over the last several months the office dynamics have changed dramatically. Nothing has been discussed regarding any policy or employee changes. However, the office managers daughter had mentioned that she will start working in the office three days a week. We are very busy, but I manage to keep up with my responsibilities. My feeling is they are trying to push me out. My question is: Are they able to reduce my pay or "demote" me without actually laying me off to avoid paying unemployment?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I'm very sorry to hear that you feel you are being pushed out of your position. Unfortunately, and employee's rights in this type of situation are typically fairly limited.

Unless you have an employment contract guaranteeing you employment for a specified period of time, 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." Pursuant to section 2922, you are free to leave your job at any tim and in exchange, your employer is free to change the requirements, promote, terminate or demote you as it sees fit and without reason. The reasons need not even be fair. Also, "nepotism" (the act of favoring one's kin) is typically not illegal in the private sector.

Although there is no law that would generally protect an employee's position under these circumstances, an employee whose hours are reduced may be eligible to receive UE benefits. Specifically, an employee is typically eligible provided they have received enough wages during the base period to establish a claim (either $1300 in one quarter of their "base period," or at least $900 in their highest quarter and total base period earnings of 1.25 times their high quarter earnings), they are physically able and available to immediately accept additional work, actively seeking work, and underemployed through no fault of their own.

However, any benefits to which an employee is entitled would be reduced by what they are still receiving as wages from part time work. Often times, those part time wages exceed the weekly UE benefits. Thus, although an employee may be eligible for benefits, they can't collect any because their part time pay exceeds their benefits amount.

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.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so much for your advice. I greatly appreciate it! I do have another question regarding this matter: I borrowed from my profit sharing quite some time ago which I am currently paying off. I am fully vested, but do still owe a few thousand dollars. If I am let go from my position, how will this effect my profit sharing?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
I'm so glad that you found my answer helpful. Unfortunately, I am not an expert on pension administration, and so I think you'd have much better luck getting an answer to this question by reposting it separately. Very best regards to you.

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