-1

The title is not great, but it was the best I could do. Also this will sound like a lie, but I am actually asking for a friend. :)

Let's say that someone has a line manager that doesn't like him. This is not based on racism, but on work related circumstances:

The employee had an opportunity to get involved in a project and the line manager didn't like that. However the line manager could not stop the emploee from getting involved because someone higher up liked this idea and green-lighted it.

After that the line manager started being passive aggressive and then when there was an opening for a better position, the line manager promoted someone else instead of the employee that deserved it.

Now let's assume that this can be objectively proven. That the person that got promoted was underqualified for the position. Is this discrimination? Is this a legal problem for the company? If yes, which laws were violated?

Disclaimer: I do understand that usually this situations are complicated and something can look provable if you have partial information, but in practice can be covered efficiently. I do understand that legal action can be a very long, expensive and emotionally draining process. However, my question is about the legal framework. If this can be proven, is it a legal issue? And if yes, which laws were violated?

4
  • @JoeStrazzere check the tags please
    – tst
    Dec 1 '19 at 15:19
  • 1
    To anyone who decides to downvote the question: could you please give a reason why you do that?
    – tst
    Dec 1 '19 at 15:26
  • ”Now let's assume that this can be objectively proven.” In this assumption, does your friend actually have proof that they’re more qualified than everyone who applied or just the person who got the promotion? Proof the promoted employee didn’t deserve it does not equal that your friend did deserve it if there were other applicants.
    – BSMP
    Dec 2 '19 at 14:49
  • @BDMP let's say that my friend can prove that he deserved the position over the person who got it and that this is objective, but yes, there may have been someone else that should have gotten it.
    – tst
    Dec 3 '19 at 0:00
9

Realistically, no, it's not a legal issue. Promoting someone that the manager likes over someone that is somehow objectively more qualified is perfectly legal unless some protected characteristic is involved. It is generally poor business practice to promote unqualified candidates and it can demotivate other employees but it isn't illegal.

There may be some uncommon cases where this would be a legal issue (which I assume you would have mentioned if they applied). For example, if you are part of a union and the union contract specifies that when a Senior Widget Polisher position comes open that the company must promote the Widget Polisher with the most experience, the company would be liable if they violated the agreement. If you work for the government and there is a law that specifies the criteria for promotion and those criteria were not followed (i.e. the promotion is based on the results of a civil service exam), that would be an issue. If there are legal requirements for someone to hold the position that the underqualified applicant does not meet (i.e. an airline captain is legally required to have a certain number of hours of flight time), that would be another legal issue (though it may not help the candidate that was passed over).

7
  • Ah, I see, so it is a completely internal subject. Out of curiosity, is the same true for recruitment? If a protected characteristic is not involved, can a manager ignore objective qualifications?
    – tst
    Dec 1 '19 at 5:01
  • @tst - It entirely depends on the country. However, somebody is not being chosen due to a protected class, in most cases that's simply a case of them not being selected.
    – Donald
    Dec 1 '19 at 7:41
  • Check the tags please, it is UK
    – tst
    Dec 1 '19 at 15:20
  • @tst - Yes. Assuming that the employer has discretion in hiring, they're free to use criteria that may be unfair and hire someone with fewer objective qualifications that they think will fit in better than someone with more objective qualifications that they think won't fit with the culture. Unless, of course, they're making the decision based on a protected characteristic. Dec 1 '19 at 23:01
  • 2
    It’s not enough to prove discrimination, you’d have to prove illegal discrimination.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 2 '19 at 20:11
2

After that the line manager started being passive-aggressive and then when there was an opening for a better position, the line manager promoted someone else instead of the employee that deserved it.

If the manager has actually selected somebody that is unqualified for the position in question, then it's only a matter of time, before a manager position will be made available. A manager who promotes unqualified people into a position is not typically kept around.

However, promoting somebody due to the fact you like one employee better than another employee, does not typically violate employment laws. You have indicated this isn't a case of discrimination, people are promoted to a position, due to interoffice politics all the time. Using your "gut" to decide which applicant is a better fit for a position is not typically illegal.

Now let's assume that this can be objectively proven. That the person that got promoted was underqualified for the position. Is this discrimination? Is this a legal problem for the company? If yes, which laws were violated?

Even if your friend can prove the person who was promoted is unqualified for the position, the person has already been promoted, no matter what your friend does they will not be selected for that position. It sounds like your friend needs to mend their relationship with their manager.

I do understand that usually these situations are complicated and something can look provable if you have partial information, but in practice can be covered efficiently. I do understand that legal action can be a very long, expensive and emotionally draining process.

Even if there was something illegal with the behavior you describe, your friend isn't going to be selected for the promotion, employees that sue their company don't typically get promoted.

However, my question is about the legal framework. If this can be proven, is it a legal issue? And if yes, which laws were violated?

If your friend feels their employer has violated their rights, they should contact a lawyer, even if we were lawyers we don't have enough information to determine if something illegal happened.

6
  • 2
    Donald suggests mending the relations with the manager. I suggest taking the evidence, but only if they truly are objective and clean-cut-no-doubt-about-it, with the manager's manager. A manager working out of spite and personal vendetta and promoting unqualified people is going against the company's best interests, upto actually harming the company outright. That kind of person has no place in leadership position, and certainly not in this company. It won't win you the position that is already filled, but may relieve you of an unprofessional manager. Dec 1 '19 at 10:47
  • 1
    @O.F. - Indeed; However, hopefully, the employee in question does not overestimate the situation. Best just mend the relationship and get the next promotion.
    – Donald
    Dec 1 '19 at 10:53
  • A complaint is already in progress, I asked my question to guage what kind of leverage my friend has.
    – tst
    Dec 1 '19 at 16:03
  • 1
    @tst the best you can hope for (and yes, we all know the "asking for a friend" thing) is not to be let go in the next series of downsizing, and not to be passed over for a raise or other promotion from now on for not being a team player and for damaging the work environment with your attitude.
    – jwenting
    Dec 2 '19 at 6:49
  • @tst - Then your friend has done serious damage to their career at this company.
    – Donald
    Dec 2 '19 at 11:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .