May an employer falsely offer a promotion to a current employee only to deny the oppurtunity without reason, cause, or interview?

Furthermore, may the employer be allowed to investigate the employee’s family after the fact through social media in order to obtain personal information to be used to spur conflict with the employee in the workplace?

Asked on September 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Employers are free to promote, refuse to promote, and even demote employees at will, at any time, for any reason, unless--

1) There is an actual employment contract obligating the employer to the promotion; or

2) In reliance on the promise of the promotion, the employee did something significant to his or her detriment, which the employer was aware the employee would do at the time the employer promised the promotion--for example, because of the promised promotion, the employee relocated or turned down some other firm job offer or opportunity.

Other than as above, the employer may deny the opportunity without reason, cause, or interview.

The employer may look at any publically available information, including through social media, of its employees and take action based on it. It may not "hack" an employee's account or pretend to be him or her to do so; however, bear in mind that an employer may see any pages or website accessed by an employee on an employer computer or using the employer's server or system.


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