Can my employer change my job description without my knowledge then demote me and cut my salary years after they changed it?

UPDATED: Nov 3, 2011

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Can my employer change my job description without my knowledge then demote me and cut my salary years after they changed it?

I have been working at my job for 10 years; 2 years ago my job description was changed without my knowledge. A year ago, my annual review stated that I “met” my job expectations and that is part of my employee file. This past week they said that I don’t meet the description and have been demoted to a lower job and my salary cut. Can they legally change their mind when they said already that I did meet the new description via my review? Do I have any recourse?

Asked on November 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Let me ask you - do you have an employment contract or union agreement that prohibits this demotion and pay reduction; does this action violate existing company policy; is yourtreatment the result of some form discrimination (including retaliation)? If not, then I'm afraid that you have no actionable claim here.

In an "at will" work relationship, an employer can hire/fire, promote/demote, increase/decrease salary/hours, and set any other terms or condition of the workplace as it sees fit. For their part, an employee can choose to work for an employer or not.

Bottom line, while seemingly unfair, unprofessional and confusing, your employer has not violated any laws.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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