What constitutes workplace discrimination?t

UPDATED: Jan 4, 2013

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What constitutes workplace discrimination?t

My wife was a GM for a pizza shop. She was recently demoted for a guy who moved here from California. She has more experience and is still out performing him. She has been emotionally distressed and feels belittled ever since it happened. He owner brought on this guy because “they couldn’t let him go”. She took about a $600 pay cut a month. Is this discrimination?

Asked on January 4, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there was no reason other than sex-based discrimination, then this may have been illegal  discrimination. You say that your wife had more experience than the new person and outperforms him; that suggests this may be discrimiantion, since that eliminates two of the most obvious non-discriminatory reasons for this action.

On the other hand, if the new person is personal friend, long-time associate, or family member of the owner, then this would most likely not be discrimination, since the law allows an employer to make hiring and promotion descisions based on personal and family relationships. Other possible non-discriminatory reasons include if he was an investor in the business; if he has valuable connections (e.g. to suppliers); or if he some other relevant and valuable skills or credentials, like (for example) a strong marketing background and the owner wants  to do more marketing. If you can eliminate all likely non-discriminatory reasons and there's nothing reasonable left, then you may have a discrimination case and should either discuss the matter  with an employment law attorney or contact your state equal or civil rights division.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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