Nine To Five: Special to The Globe and Mail, Published Sunday, August 17, 2015
I sell and renew memberships for a large association. Last year I had several hundred members to look after and my membership total (after renewals, cancellations, new sales, and those that went out of business) ended up being one fewer than the year before. My dollars were up in all categories (new business, renewal business) and I completed all processes required. Now my sales manager has reduced my selling territory by 33 per cent. Is this ethical? Is this fair? I am no longer able to earn the income that I was earning before and therefore, is this tantamount to constructive dismissal, or a way of getting me to leave against my wishes? What legal rights, if any, do I have? What would you do?
One can only hope this move was not made to harm you but possibly to reconfigure the business. This could be a situation for constructive dismissal or the organization may want you to build up the territory you are left with, knowing there is potential and you are the star to do it. If your salary isn’t compromised this could be an opportunity to show what you are made of. If you will be receiving less pay for less work they could be firing you. They could be forcing you to quit and if you quit you won’t receive a severance package. More information is necessary to answer your questions; this is not a black and white scenario.
Check with your boss and ask what you are getting in return for what has been taken away. Ask if your salary stays the same even though your territory is smaller. If not, ask that they guarantee the same salary for six months, to give you time to build up your remaining territory. Check with an employment lawyer, not your neighbor’s cousin’s uncle who is a real estate lawyer. When there is a unilateral change in fundamental terms of employment, salary being one of the many terms, you may have a case should you choose to go the legal route. Changing a person’s ability to generate income by 10% is one thing, by 33%, there may be cause to take legal action.
An employment lawyer will educate you as to your rights and options so you can bring them forward to Human Resources in a constructive manner. You will want to know if you are eligible for termination or severance pay.
It sounds like you are flummoxed as to why this has happened to you. Talk to your boss and find out as many answers to your questions as possible. You will need some answers before you meet with the lawyer. All may be right with the world, you just didn’t know the end of the story.
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It