What are my rights if my promotion was denied due to an inconclusive HR investigation?

I recently came up on my review in which I was eligible for a promotion. Prior to receiving my review, an HR investigation was done because a co-worker and I have been having problems working together since I started. We had a major falling out when she got up and stood over my desk slamming her hand on it because she was upset with something I had done. She went to HR that day; I went to HR several days later. Since we both went to HR, an investigation was completed. I was told that the results of the investigation were inconclusive on who was at fault even though I had been talking to my boss about these issues for 2 years. When my review came I was not given the promotion despite my score being exceeding expectation. I was told that they could not justify giving it to me with an HR investigation having occurred. My review was done and in the system already approved when the investigation started; they had to undo it in my employee portal. Also, nothing in my review supports the decision to not give me the promotion or the low score under teamwork. I was approved for this review even though my boss was aware of the issues between my co-worker and I. I was only denied the promotion after the investigation was done which was inconclusive. My department boss assured me that this would not be on my permanent record but my status shows as changed and the promotion revoked in my portal. When I asked why they took it away and that I felt like I was being punished when the department failed to act on the issue and HR was involved she said I was never meant to know about the promotion going through. I also noticed that when a promotion is issued they do a merit increase report which typically has the same value that the review does. I was given a 5 highest marks you can get but my review was a 4. I believe that my review was also downgraded in score due to the investigation.

Asked on June 6, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Nebraska


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Did your treatment constitute any form of legally actionable discrimination? Did your employer's action violate the terms of any union agreement or employment contract? If not, then it was legal. The fact is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes who does or doesn't get a promotion and why.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.