Make sure employees know about internal job openings

It pays to make every effort to publicize job openings to your current staff and make clear how employees should apply.

If you don’t, you face potential discrimination claims, because employees who don’t know about openings can’t apply … but they can sue on the premise that they would have applied had they known about the opening.

To be on the safest legal ground, go the extra mile by:

  • Mentioning openings in your employee newsletter and company intranet.
  • Posting announcements on a bulletin board located in a common area.
  • Making sure the company handbook spells out how openings are posted.
  • Urging supervisors to publicize openings at staff meetings.

Recent case: Sid Kelly, who is black, worked in the facilities department at Harcum College. Kelly filed a racial-discrimination lawsuit after he was passed over for a promotion to co-director of the department.

In fact, Kelly never applied for the position because he never knew about it. The HR director had posted the opening on a trade Web site, in the college’s electronic newsletter and on a paper flier near the time clock.

Still, several of Kelly’s co-workers said they never saw the notice. Kelly said he had expressed interest in the promotion to his supervisor, but didn’t formally apply since he hadn’t seen the notices.

The court considered his case on the merits after concluding Kelly may not have known there was an opening. But it ultimately dismissed the case because Kelly wasn’t as qualified as the person who was hired. (Kelly v. Harcum College, No. 05-CV-4289, ED PA, 2007)

Final note: While the employer won, it could have avoided the lawsuit by ensuring everyone knew about the job opening.