Unjustified demotion

My husband was given a promotion into a managerial position. Recently, he was demoted, though his supervisor will not call it a demotion. All of his managerial responsibilities have been removed and he is essentially back where he started. The supervisor refuses to tell him what exactly his new position is and responds evasively to questions regarding what his job title and description now entail. His name has been omitted completely from the new organizational chart for his department. He has never been approached regarding any issues regarding a lack of performance. His performance reviews have been exemplary throughout his 6 years with this company, though he was never given a performance review last year despite company policy requiring a yearly review. Three days prior to this reduction of job responsibilites, his manager threatened him in an attempt to get my husband to issue a statement absolving the manager of misconduct in another matter. My husband would not write the statement because the facts pointed directly to misconduct on the manager's part.
It is apparent that the manager is attempting to use a general "sub-standard performance" excuse to justify the demotion. Does my husband have any ground to stand on? He feels as if there is really nothing he can do about the matter. He also feels this is the first step the manager is taking in attempting to have him terminated. He has approached the H.R. Director, but has not received a response. All his (former) reports support his managerial performance completely.

2 answers  |  asked Apr 4, 2002 2:44 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (2)

Christopher Ezold
Need more facts . . .

It is difficult to provide you with an answer to your question, as some facts are missing.

Pennsylvania is an employment-at-will state, which, for all practical purposes, means that employees have no right to work, nor any right to fair treatment, except in some limited circumstances.

If your husband's supervisor was treating your husband as a scapegoat, or was merely being irratinal, your husband may not have any legal recourse under Pennsylvania law, no matter how good his performance was. However, an attorney would need to know what was the nature of the "statement" his supervisor asked him to sign. If it was a legal document or one requiring that he swear an oath before a notary public, or one that would have had any impact on a governmental investigation, your husband may have some legal recourse under either federal or state law. However, each of the above scenarios include many other issues I have not discussed here. I suspect that there are other important facts that I am unaware of, so the above discussion is limited in scope.

I hope that I have been of some help; feel free to contact me with any further questions.

Christopher E. Ezold

Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
401 City Line Avenue, St. 904
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585
CEZold@Ezoldlaw.com

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Apr 4, 2002 4:21 PM [EST]
Christopher Ezold
Need more facts . . .

It is difficult to provide you with an answer to your question, as some facts are missing.

Pennsylvania is an employment-at-will state, which, for all practical purposes, means that employees have no right to work, nor any right to fair treatment, except in some limited circumstances.

If your husband's supervisor was treating your husband as a scapegoat, or was merely being irratinal, your husband may not have any legal recourse under Pennsylvania law, no matter how good his performance was. However, an attorney would need to know what was the nature of the "statement" his supervisor asked him to sign. If it was a legal document or one requiring that he swear an oath before a notary public, or one that would have had any impact on a governmental investigation, your husband may have some legal recourse under either federal or state law. However, each of the above scenarios include many other issues I have not discussed here. I suspect that there are other important facts that I am unaware of, so the above discussion is limited in scope.

I hope that I have been of some help; feel free to contact me with any further questions.

Christopher E. Ezold

Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
401 City Line Avenue, St. 904
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585
CEZold@Ezoldlaw.com

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Apr 4, 2002 4:16 PM [EST]

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