What are the laws about interviewing for an internal promotion?

UPDATED: Dec 1, 2011

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What are the laws about interviewing for an internal promotion?

I was asked to fulfill an interim position for 3 months and also posted for the position. I was never given any pay differential. After the interim position timeframe was concluded, I was informed I did an amazing job and my application for the permanent position was wonderful. However, they still hired an external candidate. I have almost 15 years of exceptional performance with the company. My credentials also surpass the person who was hired. Are there any laws around this situation?

Asked on December 1, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Nebraska


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Based on the facts presented, there appears to be no legal protection for you here. The fact is that most employment arrangements are "at will". This means that you can choose to work for an employer or not, and an employer can hire or fire you for any reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.  Additionally, it can set the terms and conditions of employment as it sees fit, including who is or isn't promoted. So while seemingly unfair, your treatment violates no laws.

The exceptions to the above would be if this action violated: company policy, an employment contract, or a union agreement. Additionally, no form of actionable discrimination must have played a role in your not being promoted. In other words you must be in protected class to have legal recourse against your employer for such a situation. Employment discrimination is based on reasons having to do with age, race, religion, gender, and the like.  Unfortunately, being the most qualified for a position does not put you in such a protected class. 

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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