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Can I Demote an Employee?

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Question: Can I demote an employee (in title, wage, or both) from a managerial position if their performance as a manager has consistently proven to be sub-standard compared to the job description? Multiple meetings with the employee have not garnered any positive change in their performance. This person is an hourly wage employee.

Answer: Well, yes–you can demote the employee and pay him or her less. But then you’ll have a lesser paid, lower level employee with a history of poor performance to contend with. Having said this, you might also find that the employee is relieved to no longer have managerial duties and perhaps was really always better suited and happier in a non-management role. The key is to discuss candidly with the employee how your options are limited since the managerial job isn’t panning out. If you sense demotion could actually cause more problems than it will solve, you may find that unfortunately termination is the better alternative.

This response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, nor is this column a substitute for formal legal assistance. For help with particular legal needs, members are invited to consult with ACCA’s LegalTools Counsel, Brooke Duncan III of Adams and Reese LLP. Mr. Duncan can be reached at 504-585-0220 or by email at

Brooke Duncan

Posted In: Legal

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