It’s up toto run the business and set priorities. That means employers are generally free to transfer employees where their skills can be best utilized. Of course, some employees resist such moves, especially if these actions are perceived as undesirable transfers or even demotions.
That’s why, for every transfer, you should make a clear assessment of who has what skills and talents. Then, base your decision on these objective facts. If you do, courts probably won’t second-guess your decision.
Recent case: Caroline Hoelscher-Kosel was a physician assistant (PA) working for the Texas Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital in Temple. When the VA decided to hire more full-time physicians on staff, it needed fewer PAs at that location, since physicians would be assuming more job duties previously held by PAs. Hoelscher-Kosel did not have bone marrow biopsy experience, while a male PA did. She was transferred.
She sued, alleging sex discrimination. The court quickly dismissed her case after managers testified about their operational needs and the experience each PA had. (Hoelscher-Kosel v. Nicholson, No. 07-30465, 5th Cir., 2007)