May an employer falsely offer a promotion to a current employee only to deny the oppurtunity without reason, cause, or interview?

UPDATED: Sep 16, 2012

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May an employer falsely offer a promotion to a current employee only to deny the oppurtunity without reason, cause, or interview?

Furthermore, may the employer be allowed to investigate the employee’s family after the fact through social media in order to obtain personal information to be used to spur conflict with the employee in the workplace?

Asked on September 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Employers are free to promote, refuse to promote, and even demote employees at will, at any time, for any reason, unless--

1) There is an actual employment contract obligating the employer to the promotion; or

2) In reliance on the promise of the promotion, the employee did something significant to his or her detriment, which the employer was aware the employee would do at the time the employer promised the promotion--for example, because of the promised promotion, the employee relocated or turned down some other firm job offer or opportunity.

Other than as above, the employer may deny the opportunity without reason, cause, or interview.

The employer may look at any publically available information, including through social media, of its employees and take action based on it. It may not "hack" an employee's account or pretend to be him or her to do so; however, bear in mind that an employer may see any pages or website accessed by an employee on an employer computer or using the employer's server or system.

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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