In many workplaces, promotions partly depend on completing training sessions or otherwise showing efforts to improve and grow. But some employees won’t make the effort.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t sue over missed promotions. That’s why you should be prepared to show which employees took advantage of training opportunities and which employees didn’t.
Recent case: Brian, who is black, went to work for the Minneapolis Fire Department straight out of high school, eventually becoming a captain. The next step would be a promotion to battalion chief.
Over several years, he requested assignments to fill in as a temporary battalion chief. Several supervisors gave him detailed information on the criteria, including a sheet listing each requirement. They suggested that Brian should sign up for a course that would help him meet his goal. But he never took the class, nor did he ever sit down with his supervisor to discuss what he could do to improve his skills and qualifications, even after she invited him to do so.
Then Brian took the battalion chief exam. Those on the top of the resulting eligibility list would be offered jobs as they opened. Brian rated 19th out of 20 candidates and never got the promotion.
He sued, alleging that he would have scored higher if he had been allowed to work as a temporary battalion chief and that he had been blocked from doing so because of race.
The court tossed out Brian’s lawsuit after hearing about the fire department’s extensive efforts at encouraging him to accept training opportunities. (Arradondo v. City of Minneapolis, No. 13-2488, DC MN, 2015)
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