When it comes to promotions and wage increases, it pays to spell out for employees exactly how the process works. That way, you’re less likely to lose a failure-to-promote case or a pay-discrimination suit.
Here are some basic procedures to follow:
- Spell out in how and where you will post open positions. Make sure all employees receive a copy of the handbook.
- If regular wage increases are a feature, explain when they will occur and whether they hinge on meeting service and performance standards.
- Invite employees to contact the HR office with any questions about pay or promotions, and track their inquiries in your files.
Bottom line: Make your promotion and pay process as transparent as possible.
Recent case: Gour Bhaduri, a 79-year-old Indian male, worked as a security guard for Summit Security. When he started the job, he received an information packet that detailed how pay was set.
Essentially, the amount that security guards earned depended on which building they were assigned to, since each building owner negotiated a price with Summit Security.
Bhaduri sued, alleging pay discrimination based on age and national origin. But the court reasoned that Bhaduri, who worked at one of the lower-paying locales, should have known that he could earn more money if he requested a transfer to another building.
After all, he had signed a written acknowledgment spelling out exactly how to transfer. Also, his union representative had told him personally how to request a transfer. (Bhaduri v. Summit Security Services, No. 05-CIV-7024, SD NY, 2007)
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