I have been given the prospect of a promotion, which really is just a title change that comes with more responsibility, but not more money or more authority.
But it has happened that someone (let's call him Adam) has overheard me privately talking (to someone else) about workplace conditions (which I believe is a protected category an employer cannot take adverse action against, but correct me if I'm wrong). This conversation was outside the earshot of everyone else, but Adam made it a point of rushing around the corner and snooping into the conversation out of the blue. I immediately switched topic, but he managed to hear the last sentence I said.
Fast forward three months later: In the background, I have been told, Adam took that last sentence, interpreted it wrongly (in the worst manner possible), and management have taken his word verbatim. I didn't get a chance to have a say in this matter.
Instead, Adam's interpretation of what I allegedly said was brought against me months later as a matter of fact without discussion, but with the insinuation that what I allegedly said would be something that would prevent my future promotion should this happen again.
(Side note: Management let's Adam get away with a lot (!) of questionable stuff and is extremely accommodating when it comes to accommodate his personal circumstances, but that's their decision. Adam is also on a *cough* fast track in terms of promotions.)
Now, I don't even want this promotion:
This incident overshadows all my accomplishments in the past 3 to 4 years (I can say without bragging that I'm one of the most productive team members the company has had in a long time; the numbers don't lie), and therefore I don't think this promotion is based on merit any longer, but rather on whether or not someone like Adam, who is on management's good side. He puts my words on the balance, effectively making this promotion based on compliance and conformance only.
I don't want to walk on eggshells around people. In fact, my position requires me to talk to a lot to people, and the danger of someone mishearing or misinterpreting something, this being brought to management and them taking their interpretation as is in favour of what I actually said, is far too great. In short: I don't want an innocent sentence to blow up in my face months later.
As mentioned in the first paragraph: This promotion is a title change with the prospect of more responsibility (read: work), but without any additional compensation or even authority to get that additional work done correctly and in a timely manner.
The question therefore is: How can I let management know to not bother filing any paperwork for any future promotion of mine, since given everything that happened, I won't be able to function at 100%, for fear that someone may bring harmless sentences up to management and handle them in the above manner. I don't want to sound confrontational, passive-aggressive or retaliatory. I just think based on everything that has happened, I don't think this (or any) promotion is appropriate for me.
My goal is not to get back at Adam, and it is not to get back at management for one-sidedly listening to only him, and for their decisions. My goal is to remain where I am without more responsibility and rather enjoy the possibility of having a conversation with random guys without fear that this might thwart any future promotion.
(Note: For those who will say "Go to HR": HR is not my friend. Their only job is to prevent lawsuits against the company. And in a past incident with another colleague, HR was caught (unreprimandedly!) lying and threatening said colleague in an issue that was actually entirely HR's fault by violating the office code of conduct. So I can't expect help from them.)