Think twice if your company relies on informal in-house recommendations to fill open positions. The courts look suspiciously on such “networking” promotions and land hard on employers that don’t post job openings.
According to the courts, you must consider each employee who may be eligible, or even just interested, in the job. If you don’t consider them—even if they never approach you directly—they can sue.
Recent case: John Brennan, who was over age 50, received mixedfrom the Tractor Supply Company. Brennan quit after he lost out on a promotion that was never advertised.
He sued, alleging he wasn’t considered for the promotion because of his age.
The court concluded that when an employer doesn’t post openings, employees who might have applied can sue. Plus, the court wrote, “The company has a duty to consider all who might reasonably be interested in a promotion were its availability made generally known.”
In the end, Tractor Supply showed it didn’t discriminate based on age, and that the promoted employee was better qualified than Brennan. However, if it had posted the position, the company might have saved thousands of dollars in legal fees and hassle. (Brennan v. Tractor Supply Company, No. 05-6487, 6th Cir., 2007)
Tip: Post every job opening, along with the job description, minimum experience, education requirements and application deadline.
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