Supervisors may think they know all the candidates for promotion so well they can select one without actually interviewing any of the interested employees. That’s a big mistake.
Chances are that if one of the disappointed applicants sues, the supervisor will have to answer very specific questions about the hiring process.
Recent case: Defense Department employee Barry Bartlett was 58 years old when he was passed over for a promotion in favor of a 39-year-old woman. Bartlett had a bachelor’s degree, advanced coursework in law and business and 34 years of experience at his agency, including 24 years as a contract administrator.
Experience handling contract negotiations was the primary requirement for the promotion.
The woman had just eight years of experience and no college degree. Another older candidate had even more education than either Bartlett or the woman. Still, their supervisor selected the woman without actually interviewing anyone, based on her supposed direct knowledge of the candidates.
Bartlett’s supervisor had also recently suggested that he retire and “go antiquing” because he had been at the agency too long.
Bartlett sued, alleging age and other discrimination.
The court said the case should go to trial. It noted the ageist statements and the fact that the supervisor who made the promotion decision didn’t seem to know the experience level or educational attainment of any of the candidates. That cast a huge shadow over the selection. (Bartlett v. Gates, No. 09-3823, 6th Cir., 2010)