Wrongful Demotion

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about demotion:

Can I be demoted from a position at my job due to theft or negligence of other employees or the owner? I am manager but even if it was not done on my shift is and I wasn’t there?

Signed, Threatened With Demotion

Dear Threatened With Demotion:

Owners and management want to find someone to blame whenever there is a serious loss of property. It appears from the little you say that you think the theft occurred during a shift in which you weren’t on duty. Of course an investigation will have to determine when and who might have stolen whatever is missing. Can you be blamed and might you be demoted? Possibly. Should you worry? Probably not if you have a solid record of managing what has been assigned to you. Owner/managers pretty much can demote and fire whomever, whenever, and for whatever good reason or no reason, just as you can quit for whatever reason or no reason. That is what has come to be known as the “at will doctrine.” Union contracts and some laws concerning discrimination have modified that doctrine, but most workplaces with few employees have no such protection.

Sometimes it takes a problem, such as theft, for management to make policy and put rules in place to prevent it from happening again. Now it is up to the owner/manager to investigate how this could have happened and to so organize that it won’t happen again. You probably can help with that. You seem to have an opinion of when and why the theft occurred. Cooperate with the investigation, but don’t become obsessed about it. Avoid gossip. You would be wise to avoid accusing anyone or saying when it occurred unless and until there is hard evidence of that. Does this make sense to you?

Focus on thinking like your owner/manager. If you were owner/manager what might you do to make your workplace more secure, more safe, more profitable, more innovative, and less wasteful of supplies, time and money. That kind of thinking is what underpins my signature: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden