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Do you have to accept a demotion?

I've worked for my company for 10 years. My manager just informed me that my job is being eliminated and I am being demoted. Do I need to accept this new, lower job? Does my employer have any legal obligations to offer me a severance package?

The Answer

No. You do not have to accept the lesser job and if the employer refuses to provide you with severance and insists you take the lesser role, you can leave and sue for constructive dismissal, which is essentially a claim for severance based on a deemed termination. The key is that the lesser job is, in fact, lesser in all respects. That point has to be objectively clear, especially if your salary does not change.

Can I sue my employer after I settled my case?

I was harassed and discriminated against by my manager. This caused me depression. I consulted a lawyer, who filed a Human Rights Tribunal claim. In the end, he negotiated with the defendant's lawyer, and I was forced to agree to a settlement. A year has passed and I'm unhappy with the agreement and the lawyer. Is there anything I can do to reopen that negotiation?

The Answer

No. Once you settle a case, sign the settlement documents and take the money, all issues between you and your former employer are over. You also have to be responsible for the agreement you made with your lawyer and the settlement you accepted. Unhappiness with a settlement will not allow you to back out of it, especially one year later.

Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, employment and labour lawyers, and he is the author of the Law of Contractors.

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