Supervisors who want to hand-select a particular employee for a job may be tempted to play fast and loose with the company promotion process. Watch out!
They may, for example, begin to downgrade a potential candidate’s job performance while enhancing the preferred candidate’s evaluations. Or they may persuade HR to list the promotion opportunity for just a short time, hoping the favorite will apply and other potential applicants will miss the chance.
Be on the lookout for such tactics by monitoring and making sure that every job posting follows the usual rules you’ve set. Otherwise, the whole process may end up tainted—and you’ll wind up facing lawsuits from disgruntled employees who believe they were treated unfairly.
Recent case: Robert Gregory, who is black and over age 40, worked for the University Hospital for about 15 years until he was fired for allegedly handling a cash shortage improperly.
Gregory had always earned good and had made sure his supervisors knew he was interested in being promoted.
Then the hospital posted an opening he had specifically told his supervisor he was interested in, but the notice didn’t mention a closing date. Gregory assumed he would have a few days to prepare the application and tried to turn it in on Monday after working on it over the weekend. On Monday, he learned the posting had already been closed.
Gregory sued, alleging age and race discrimination (the selected candidate was a younger white employee). Shortly after, Gregory was fired for the alleged cash- problem.
The court hearing the case said his lawsuit could go forward because there was evidence the hospital might have manipulated the promotion process to exclude Gregory.
It also said the subsequent poor evaluations were suspect, as was the stated reason for firing Gregory since there was little evidence anyone had even made him aware of the cash shortages, and in the past he had aggressively found ways to deal with such incidents. (Gregory v. University Hospital, No. 1:08-CV-00014, SD OH, 2009)
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