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TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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I am a 28-year old, African American woman. In 2010, I was

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I am a 28-year old, African American woman. In 2010, I was hired as a program coordinator of a chamber of commerce. I had a direct supervisor who acted as the Executive Director of the program until January of this year when she left to accept another position. In January, the program also filed a 501(c)3 and became its own organization, although we are stilled housed at the Chamber. After my supervisor left, the board made no attempt to refill her position as Executive Director, but instead began treating me as the Executive Director. My new responsibilities included fundraising, marketing, and supervision of staff... All things that I did not have to do as the Coordinator of the program. Furthermore, I was given no job description, revised organization chart, no training, nor an employee manual for this new organization despite numerous requests for them. I also was not compensated for my new role and am still being paid the same amount as I did as a Coordinator. For the last year, I've had to report to board although they never officially made me the Executive Director, and one board member in particular is extremely disrespectful to me, which I believe is because of my age. (I am 29.) We have had a banner year, winning a national award and may local accolades, but when I approached the board about a payraise and an official job title they denied my request. The person who held my position before me, who is also an African American woman, was also denied her compensation request and was ultimately fired, or as they put it "phased out". Based on this information, can I file a lawsuit for discrimination due to race?

Thank you for your question. I can certainly understand why these circumstances are extremely frustrating and hurtful. Your employer is definitely not treating you correctly.

To file a lawsuit for employment discrimination based on race, there must be an adverse employment action taken by the employer which was motivated by race. In your case, while we can see that there is an adverse employment action (you have been given the duties of the executive director without being given a raise or the job title), there is no evidence in what you have presented here of race as the motivating factor.

What makes you believe that they are doing this because of your race? Do you have any documents that show the board making racist remarks or any other kind of anything that shows racism is involved here?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello. I personally believe the board is discriminating because of my race and age (moreso age than anything). A few board members have made comments such as "What do you know? I've got children your age" or more recently, the chairman of the board contacted me about arguing my case against another board member and said, "let me give you some motherly advice. There's no point in you arguing your case with "John Doe", I know you're right, but just let it go. I asked her if she knew I was right, why didn't she say so and defend me? This same board member also responds to my emails in a very disrespectful manner, creating a very hostile work environment.


But to answer your question, the person who was in the job before was a previous employee of the Chamber who had the additional responsibilities of my current job added onto hers. This was an entirely different program that what she had been hired to do. When she asked for a raise due to the enormous amount of additional responsibility, I guess they figured she was raising too much sand and "phased out" her position. Then, less than a month later, they turned around and hired me for the part of her position that they'd recently added. She was also an African-American female.


My questions are:

1. Legally, can you be placed in a position in which no job description, personnel policy, nor org chart is provided to you, especially when you've requested it several times?

2. Can an employer "move" you from one position to another, such as a program coordinator to an executive director position, without an official job offer, training, and compensation, especially considering how much the two positions differ and the liability of going from one to another?

3. Is it considered discriminatory for a board to deny compensation for someone who has advanced from program coordinator to executive director?

Thank you for your response.

You need more to successfully press a race discrimination claim. However, that being said, this does not stop you from filing an EEOC claim against the Chamber and asserting racist motivations for refusing to properly reclassify your position. In essence, they have taken an adverse employment action against you by making you do more work without paying you more. The pressure by filing an EEOC claim might force them to reclassify you properly and pay you the correct salary.

In regard to age, there is no law which prevent discrimination based on age for individuals under the age of 40. The law only protects people from being discriminated against because they are old.

To answer your specific questions:
1. A private employer (ie, non-governmental) can place you in a position without a job description, personnel policy, org chart, etc., regardless of whether you have requested it. There is no law which requires a private employer to have any of these documents.

2.An employer can also move you in the way that you have described, as long as the movement is not motivated by illegal reasons (such as discrimination based on race, gender, creed, religion, national origin, disabilities, age).

3. It is not "discriminatory" to deny compensation on its face. If the reason the board did it was because you are an african american, then it would be discrimination. It is the lack of direct evidence of racism that is what disqualifies this situation as a good case for racial discrimination.

Please let me know if you have further questions.

Please remember to rate my services positively so that I might receive payment from the website for my work.

TexLaw and 2 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Will do. Thank you!

I see you have also asked Marsh JD this question. I believe our answers are similar. Please let me know if there is anything else we can do for you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi there! I have another question. Same situation as previously discussed... I was hired as the Program Coordinator of an organization. I had a direct supervisor (who was the Chamber President & CEO) who served as the executive director, and she reported to the board. She left and our we formed our own non-profit organization in January 2012. Under the old/current org structure, the person who is the Chamber president assumes the role of the ED for my organization. They have hired a new Chamber President, but he is not involved with my organization at all. Can the board force me to serve in this role? Can you be forced into a position you were not originally hired for--particularly a position that holds the responsibility of an ED? Can I refuse to take the position--just as I would any other position--without retailiation?

I'd be happy to answer this question, but you need to "accept" my prior answer by giving me a positive rating, which then allows the website to pay me for my work on your question.

In regard to whether the board can force you to do anything, the answer is, unless you have a contract which states otherwise, yes. You serve at the pleasure of the board. However, unless you have a contract which states otherwise, you are free to leave at any time, or to refuse to take the position. If you refuse, and you do not have an employment contract which says otherwise, the board can retaliate by firing you or otherwise penalizing you.

Georgia recognizes the doctrine of employment at will. Employment at will means that in the absence of a written contract of employment for a defined duration, an employer can terminate an employee for good cause, bad cause or no cause at all, so long as it is not an illegal cause.