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Demotion for Medical Reasons?

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  • Demotion for Medical Reasons?

    First a little backstory -- Three weeks ago I was given a promotion, and a $7,000 per year merit/promotional raise. I was promoted from Safety Director to Plant Manager. This was after 11 months of doing the Plant Manager job and asking for the promotion, but always being told that we were on a 'raise freeze', which meant they couldn't promote me because I shouldn't have a promotion and no raise. I have been there 4 years and have been absent 3 times and left early 5 times (absences were unplanned, the days I left early were planned).

    Five days ago, I was suffering from a sinus infection, which I'd had for about a week (and had complained of headaches at work, though hadn't attempted to leave early or take a day off), and managed to have the horrible misfortune to then also get a migraine. I came into work at 6am and by 10am was in such horrible pain that I was in tears. When my boss strolled in the door at around 10am, he told me he had a whole list of things that he needed me to get done. I told him that I might not be staying much longer, that I had a terrible headache and couldn't see, and that I needed to get to the doctor for some medicine and go home and lay down.

    He immediately told me that if I left, he'd be demoting me all the way down to Shipping Clerk, because I clearly couldn't handle the position. I told him that I didn't want that, but I needed to go to the doctor. He told me that if I left, he was demoting me, end of story, and stormed out.

    Well, I left. I went to the emergency clinic, I got meds, I got a note from the doctor saying that I needed to take the day off, and that I'd be back in the next day.

    The next day came around and I showed up on time, and when he strolled in at 10am, I gave him my doctor's note and asked if I was still demoted and he said yes. He then told the HR people and everyone else in the business that I had 'stepped down' because the stress was getting to me, he said he wanted me to be able to 'save face' and didn't want them all to know I'd been humiliatingly demoted. Well, I've been telling everyone the truth, because I did nothing wrong.

    They took away my $7,000 raise and demoted me all the way down to 'Shipping Clerk' because I went to the emergency clinic.

    They have told me it's because I'm 'Unreliable' and they can't have someone unreliable running the shop. Of course, I was also told just the other day that I could certainly earn my position back if my 'bad attitude' over being demoted changed.

    Is this illegal? Demoting me because I went to the doctor? If so, what can I do about it?

  • #2
    You weren't demoted because you went to the doctor; you were demoted because you left after being told not to.

    When you called and talked to HR about this, what did they say?
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      Human Resources was told that I stepped down because I was stressed out. When I told HR that I had been demoted because I went to the doctor, she was outraged and said they shouldn't be able to do that, but she couldn't make any legal suggestions -- but it's a family owned business and if she raises an uproar about it, they'll come after her for it. So there's really nothing she can do and I understand that. I don't want them to make her life a living hell because she's helping me.


      • #4
        I can understand you needing to leave if you were not well. However, it was not illegal to demote you for doing so when told not to. (unless you have a binding employment contract to the contrary)
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.


        • #5
          It may be poor management but it isn't illegal. If you are told not to leave or you will be demoted and do so anyway, that isn't illegal. The proper thing to do would have been to explain the situation and ask permission to leave or do whatever needed to be done. If upon being given tasks which must be completed that day, you announce you are sick and going home and then do so, leaving those tasks undone, most employers are going to be unhappy to say the least. I understand sinus infections and migraines suck as I suffer from both, but just up and leaving upon being given time sensitive assignments is not the answer.
          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


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