If my boss tells me I am not getting the promotion because I am not a cultural fit, is that discrimination?

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If my boss tells me I am not getting the promotion because I am not a cultural fit, is that discrimination?

I have been told that I don’t fit their culture and that is why I won’t get promoted anytime soon. I signed a non-compete. Is there anything I can do?

Asked on March 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

What is meant by "not a cultural fit"?

Federal law prohibits racial or religious discrmination (among other things); Texas law prohibits discrimination on account of national origin and race as well. If the "culture" in question is based on your national origin (e.g. you are Mexican, and that's why you don't fit in), your race (e.g. it's an objection to Asian culture), or religion (e.g. you are Muslim or Jewish), then you may have a claim for illegal discrimination.

However, if the cultural mistatch is something else, like--

* You are politically liberal, but are working for a politically conservative company

* You are from the North originally (e.g. NY, MA) or the West (e.g. WA, CA) and don't fit in as well with Texas culture

* You dress differently, have body art or piercings that others don't have at work, etc.

--then it is legal to not promote you because you do not meet the company's idea or criteria for a higher-level employee. Therefore, the kind of cultual mismatch is critical to determining your rights.

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