Can I sue my company for not promoting me?

UPDATED: Jul 28, 2011

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Can I sue my company for not promoting me?

I was verbally promised a promotion from my boss over a year ago. My boss and my boss’s boss support my promotion but 1 VP is holding it up for unknown reasons.

Asked on July 28, 2011 Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the course of action regarding a promotion in your company is to have a vice president sign off on it, then implicit in your immediate superior's "promise" was that your promotion would need VP approval. Therefore you have no legally actionable claim. Things may be different if the VP approved it and in reliance on the promise of that promotion you did something to your detriment. So for example, if the VP approved your promotion but you never in fact received it through no fault of your own; and in the interim you turned down a better position with another company based on the promise, you may then you may have a legitimate claim.

The fact is the without a union agreement, employment contract or company policy to the contrary, you as an at will employee and your employer can increase/decrease your salary/hours, promote/demote and generally mandate work terms/conditions as it sees fit. For your part you can choose to work for your employer or not. Additionally, if no form of workplace discrimination must be present if you are turned down for the promotion. Absent any of the foregoing, your employer has not violated any law.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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