Job Elimination

On June 26 2008 I was told that my job was eliminated. I was offered a severance package or I could stay on with the company in a different position. I chose the other position, and still with the same company. I know for a fact that someone within my old department is doing my old job. Is this fair or legal?

1 answer  |  asked Aug 14, 2008 9:10 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Elimination of job is legal in most cases

Your question has two parts: is the elimination of your job fair or legal. Whether it is fair is a question that has no legal significance. The law does not require employers to be fair.Whether it is legal is a more complicated question.
I would begin by saying that the elimination of a job does not necessarily require the elimination of job tasks. Downsizing or reorganization often involves the combining of old tasks from several positions into fewer positions or positions that pay less. There is nothing illegal about this.
The only way that you can prove that an employer acted illegally in removing you from your old job is to show that it was motivated by some unlawful reason, such as race, sex, age or religious discrimination. Certain kinds of terminations are wrongful, such as termination in retaliation for whistleblowing or for refusing to engage in illegal activity. But you were not terminated, so these kinds of claims do not apply to your situation.
The fact that the company was willing to keep you on as an employee makes it difficult to assume, much less prove, that the company's actions were motivated by considerations of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. The fact that you chose to stay means that the company's action could not be considered a constructive discharge, since you didn't find the change in working conditions intolerable.
I assume that your employer is a private company, not a government agency. That being the case, unless you have a written contract that protects your job security, you are an at-will employee. This means the company is free to terminate you for any reason or no reason (other than an unlawful one). So even if you could prove the job elimination was a lie and even if you had been fired with no offer of another job and no severance, you would not have a claim without proof that the true motive was something unlawful.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Aug 15, 2008 11:59 AM [EST]

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