Q: My husband was recently demoted to a lesser job at a lower salary. Office politics seem to have played a role, as he was unjustly accused of "ethical lapses." The experience has caused him to question his life. Should he seek legal counsel or just accept it and move on?- Gina
A: Kate: Chances are, if your husband hires a lawyer, the company will ask him to leave immediately.
Companies can reassign someone, or even fire him (in most states) with no explanation. It's called "employment at will."
They don't have to have a reason, much less a good reason. They even can give an incorrect reason, as long as it's not a discriminatory one, such as age, race or religion.
Dale: Worse yet, if every single thing the company is saying about him is completely untrue, he's still in a lousy position. One thing you learn about lawsuits is that they aren't about truth, they're just competing versions of events, dueling stories.
If two or more bosses believe - or say they believe - your husband violated company policies, then it's his word against theirs. Yes, it stinks. So, should he "accept it and move on"? No, that will never feel right. Instead, he should live out the cliche: "The best revenge is living well."
Kate: There's no doubt that job searching is a better use of his energy than resentments. That, however, leads to another issue: What to say in interviews about demotions? Perhaps he could say, "I've been a star performer for my whole career, but new management is bringing in their own people, so it's time to move on." Or, "I recently accepted a lower position so I'd have more free time to start a job search."
He'll need to try out some ways to position his past until he finds something that feels right.
Dale: And also will allow him to gracefully segue into talking about his accomplishments.
He can use his anger to propel him into a job search, but once he starts interviewing, he must be thinking about "living well," about the future, not the "revenge."
Do him a favor and get him to work on a list of accomplishments to use to prep for interviews; that will bolster his self-confidence and give him the right notes to hit in interviews.