Can an employer prevent an employee from transferring to another department within the company for no legitimate reason?

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Can an employer prevent an employee from transferring to another department within the company for no legitimate reason?

A co-worker of mine no longer wishes to work in the department where he is currently employed. The department that he is interested in has a vacancy and considers this employee a very strong candidate. This employees manager and district manager are preventing the transfer, apparently for no other reason than they don’t want him to go. Isn’t this preventing the employees right to make a living?

Asked on August 9, 2011 Maine

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Actually, yes an employer can do this. The fact is that an at will employer can deny a transfer to an employee for a bad reason or no reason at all. Further, it can set the terms and conditions of employment as it sees fit or deems necessary. For their part, an "at will" employee can choose to continue working there or not. The foregoing holds true unless this action is the result of some form of actionable discrimination, violates company policy, or runs contrary to any employment contract or union agreement that may be in place.


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