The coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected many California businesses. As a result, employers have been looking to cut costs to survive. Unfortunately, these cuts often include firing or demoting hard working employees.
Have you been demoted at work? If so, then you are likely frustrated by the pay cut or reduction of your hours. You also might be concerned that you were wrongfully demoted. Below, our attorneys answer the question, “Can my employer demote me for no reason?” We also discuss your options for handling a wrongful demotion lawsuit.
What Is the Legal Definition of Demotion?
Essentially, a demotion is when an employer reassigns an employee to a lower position than he or she had worked previously. The new position often has less responsibility, lower pay or fewer hours than the previous position.
Can My Employer Demote Me Without Cause?
In California, your employer can legally terminate you or demote you without reason. This is known as “at-will employment.” However, your employer cannot violate any state or federal laws that protect you from unfair treatment. Your employer cannot demote you under the following circumstances:
Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation
California and federal laws prohibit workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation. As such, your employer cannot violate anti-discrimination laws when demoting or firing you. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees from discrimination based on protected characteristics, including, but not limited to:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Mental or physical disability
Violation of Public Policy
Your employer cannot violate any existing laws designed to protect you from unfair treatment. If your demotion goes against public policy, then you should consult with an experienced employment attorney immediately. Your lawyer may determine that you are eligible to file a wrongful demotion lawsuit.
Breach of Contract
Have you signed an employment contract? If so, then your employer must abide by the terms and conditions of that contract. If your demotion violates your employment contract, then you may have the option to pursue legal action.
Can You Sue for Wrongful Demotion?
Yes. If you were wrongfully demoted by your employer, then you should consider pursuing legal action. However, depending on the circumstances, you may have to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) first.
An employment attorney may recommend that you obtain an immediate right-to-sue letter instead of having the DFEH investigate your complaint. You can consult with our Los Angeles employment attorneys during a free case evaluation. We can help you determine your best legal options based on your unique situation.
Demoted Without Warning? Our Los Angeles Employment Law Firm Can Help
The question, “Can my employer demote me for no reason?” is complicated. Technically, a California employer can demote an employee without warning or reason. However, there are exceptions.
If you suspect that you were wrongfully demoted, then do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our Los Angeles employment law firm will review your case and answer your most pressing questions. For a free consultation, call us today at (310) 526-8152. You can also send us a message through our online contact page.