Here’s a good way to cut your litigation risk: Make sure you post all promotion opportunities along with the minimum job requirements. That way, employees can’t sue over lost opportunities for which they failed to apply.
Recent case: David Paul, who is black, sued his former employer over a promotion he believed he was qualified for. His lawsuit, which he filed after being terminated, argued that he was qualified for an auditor position that another employee got.
The case was quickly dismissed, since it appeared Paul never applied, and could offer no evidence that the opportunity hadn’t been posted. If employees don’t apply, they can’t sue over lost promotions unless the job wasn’t posted. (Paul v. Americold Logistics, No. 10-14844, 11th Cir., 2012)
Final note: Create a posting policy and stick with it. Don’t allow secret promotions or allow supervisors to pre-select favored workers.