Can an employer “freeze” a selected group of employees and not allow them to apply on job openings that other employees and the general public can?

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Can an employer “freeze” a selected group of employees and not allow them to apply on job openings that other employees and the general public can?

I work as a contractor for the federal government and my position is covered under the Service Contract Act. My government employer has decided to “freeze” positions for all employees that are under a specific contract that is due to expire in about 6 months. There is nothing in our contract that allows them to do this, their explanation is that it makes a more fair procurement process for prospective supplemental labor agencies that will be bidding on us employees under the new contract (due to take effect after this one expires). Does this fall under disparate treatment or disparate impact? Is this lawful?

Asked on April 14, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing requiring employers to treat all employees (or job applicants) equally or the same, so long as the employer is not discriminating on one of a limited number of specifically protected bases. For example, under federal law, an employer may not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability; but so long as an employer is not discriminating on a protected basis, it may treat certain people unequally. For example, it could elect to not let current employees or contractors apply for new positions or openings; that is perfectly legal.


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