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Wrongful Demotion at Work and Demotion Law Questions

A man upset after a demotion

A demotion is a step down in rank or job title for an employee. Usually a demotion means a loss in pay, benefits, and company privileges. Many employers use demotions in an attempt to keep an employee in the company. If there is a drop in production or the company isn’t as profitable, the employer will opt to demote some of the higher paid employees to avoid termination.

However, for an employee, a demotion can be demoralizing, and can seem unfair, resulting in questions about employee rights and demotion laws. Employment Lawyers on JustAnswer answer many demotion related questions. Below are five of the top questions answered by the Experts.

Is there any legal recourse for an at will employee who has been given a choice between a demotion and termination?

Being an at-will employee means that your employer can terminate you, demote you and even cut your benefits without any explanation, as long as the employer does not base any of these decisions on race, gender, age, religion, or disability. Without evidence of discrimination on the part of your employer, there really isn’t much that can be legally done.

However, you could approach your employer and discuss why you were chosen for the demotion and possibly work out an arrangement that will be satisfactory to you both. If you cannot come to an agreement, you may consider taking the demotion or seeking a different job.

Can an employee gain unemployment benefits by forcing a company to terminate them after being offered a demotion?

Being terminated will not automatically ensure that you will gain unemployment benefits. Generally, the State Unemployment Commission will assess your situation and base their decision on their findings. They will determine if the demotion you were offered was considered suitable for your profession and industry, the terms of pay for your job and how it would compare to the local economic standards. If the Commission determines that the job was suitable, then you may be denied unemployment benefits whether you quit or get terminated.

However, if you quit, and can show evidence that you had good cause to quit and that the demotion that was offered was unsuitable, you may gain unemployment benefits. On the other hand, if your employer terminates you, they have to show reason for a demotion and prove that the job was suitable.

In Maryland, can an employee be terminated for appealing a demotion?

In Maryland, if there is no written employment agreement, your employer has the right to dictate the terms of your employment. This means they can promote, demote, or determine how an appeal process (if any) would be handled. At will employment means that your employer can terminate you at any time, and allows you to end your work relationship at any time, without any notice or reason.

However, your employer is more limited in their actions. If your employer treats an employee differently based on race, age, gender, religion, or disability, they would be in violation of workplace discrimination laws.

Is verbal abuse, public humiliation, demotion and loss of pay acceptable disciplinary action?

There may be something that you can do about this employer behavior. The first option would be if you have a written contract that states that the employer cannot take any type of action against the employee without good cause. The second option would be if you can prove that the employers actions were based on you race, gender, age, religion or disability. If you have proof of the second option, you can file a complaint with the EEOC.

Once you file a complaint, the EEOC would investigate the allegations and determine if you have enough evidence to take the employer to court and sue. If you have a contract, and the employer violates any terms of this contract, you can sue the employer for breach of contract. If neither option can apply to your situation, you would be an at will employee. This means that an employer can promote, demote, hire, or terminate an employee without giving a reason, leaving you with no legal recourse.

Can an employer demote an at-will employee solely for the purpose of avoiding litigation from a previous employee?

Without a written employment contract, you would be an at will employee. This means that your employer can promote, demote, or terminate you at any time without giving a reason as long as they don’t base the decision on your race, age, gender, religion or disability.

There are exceptions to at-will employment and the exceptions are: an employment contract, public policy, or company policy. If your employer has violated any of these exceptions, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. In this situation, it seems like the employer demoted you to avoid litigation from another employee. You could consider retaining the services of a local employment attorney to discuss the options that you have for a pending lawsuit.

Demotions can demoralize, and bring about many legal questions. You want to know what your legal rights are when dealing with a demotion. You will probably need more experienced answers that the friendly and well-intentioned inputs provided by friends and family. You can ask Employment Lawyers on JustAnswer to evaluate your particular situation and provide Expert legal opinion. The Experts deal with a wide range of legal questions related to demotion and employment law, and can answer your questions in an efficient and knowledgeable manner.

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