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In a casual conversation, my colleague told me that she was upset that her job title was changed without her knowing about it. Apparently in a meeting in which she wasn't in, her boss had informed her co-workers about her new title. She received no formal notice about it either and it is no way a promotion. Perhaps some might even consider her new title to be a step down from her previous one. She certainly thinks so.

I felt that this is not right. Is such a thing legal? Can she do something about it even though she doesn't seem to want to so as to avoid stirring up trouble?

closed as off-topic by gnat, paparazzo, Elmy, OldPadawan, Lilienthal Aug 30 '18 at 10:05

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  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – gnat, paparazzo, Elmy, OldPadawan, Lilienthal
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  • Is anything in writing? How has she been informed? – solarflare Aug 30 '18 at 1:38
  • Legal question, no location. Put on hold. Please take a look at the help center, specifically the link to the legal advice section. – Lilienthal Aug 30 '18 at 10:05
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The short answer here is yes, a company can change the title of an employee unless you have an employment contract or are part of a union. Even in these cases sometimes the company can change titles anyway.

The only thing she can do is ask for an explanation from her manager. As long as she didn't take a pay cut, I would advise her to not worry about it too much. (you work for cash not a title)

The other thing she could try is talking to HR, but this has its own risks, and I don't think this situation warrants shining the HR spotlight on her. YMMV

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    a company can change the title of an employee -> IMO, it depends heavily on the country and the laws. ie: if the title is linked to another title (doctor / master of... and so on), it's probably illegal, and is in many countries in Europe (for instance) AFAIK. Same story for technical director who can't become sales director: if the title modifies the job/responsabilities, it can't be modified (in many countries). Could you please clarify or back it up, by any chance? – OldPadawan Aug 30 '18 at 9:23
  • Cash is king, but titles have intangible value in seeking future employment. I once asked for (and was granted) a title change from Senior Laundry Assistant to Principal Laundry Assistant (actual titles changed to protect the innocent) because in the job market, the former implied significantly less experience than I actually had. – Blrfl Aug 30 '18 at 13:01
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    "(you work for cash not a title)", unless you work at Cheers, youtube.com/watch?v=MrwcS4n1kzQ – cdkMoose Aug 30 '18 at 14:07
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I guess it depends on what the title change is. Evidently it's serious enough to upset her.

Going from being a Senior Software Developer to now only being a Software Developer, for example, has serious implications on one's CV.

I can only speculate with abstract examples now because her precise title was not mentioned. When she next starts interviewing for employment, employers will see her as having less experience than she actually does. And they may even interpret it as a demotion.

  • You raise a bad example - the difference between "senior dev" and "dev" is way too company dependent to be meaningful. – Erik Aug 30 '18 at 8:39
  • It's the best example I can think of considering the actual titles were not provided – user2818782 Aug 30 '18 at 8:49
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If the title is in the contract (which can be the case), then it would be weird for it to change without somebody's knowledge or consent.

If the title is not in the contract, then yes I would expect it to be totally at the whim of whoever gets to make decisions at a given point in time.

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