Is it legal to demote an employee because they lack credentials needed for the job that should have been checked prior to being promoted?

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Is it legal to demote an employee because they lack credentials needed for the job that should have been checked prior to being promoted?

My employer promoted me to a courier position without checking my driving credentials fully. After I successfully completed all of the training and had been doing the actual job on my own for several weeks i was told that I was no longer allowed to drive or even be a courier. The rule is that any driver is required to possess a valid drivers license for a minimum of 3 years. I’ve had mine 2 years and 9 months. The demoted me and cut my pay which was a significant decrease. Not to mention the amount of hours I lost too. Soon I will lose my apartment. I am not at fault yet I’m being punished.

Asked on March 3, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you did not have an employment contract, you are what is known as an employee at will. An employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever, except for reasons that are specifically made illegal, like discrimination against certain groups. Being able to fire at will, an employer may also do things that are "less than" firing--like demoting or reducing pay.

Employers are free to set the qualifications for work or for specific jobs--again so long as they do not set illegal qualifications, such as that someone must be of a certain race.

Putting these together, your employer may demote you if you lacked a qualification for the job you were promoted to. The fact that it would have been better had they found that out before granting you the promotion does not make what they did illegal.


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