Is it legal for my managerto promote people based on favoritism?

UPDATED: Jan 14, 2011

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Is it legal for my managerto promote people based on favoritism?

My former employer was promoting people into management positions based on favoritism. The jobs were never posted out on the corporate intraweb or any job page for other employees to apply. Can I sue them based on the fact that they didn’t create an equal opportunity but picked favorites and placed them into supervisor positions? 

Asked on January 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A manager can promote on favoritism and long as they don't discriminate in doing so.  Accordingly, if they like a person and promote them because they are a good player on the company softball team, that's legal.  However, if they fail to promote someone because they are a woman, that's illegal.  Basically, workplace discrimination exits if someone who is in a "protected class" is given less favorable treatment because of their membership in that class.  The following characteristics are considered "protected classes" and persons cannot be discriminated against based on these characteristics: race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, disability, and in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, gender identity, and "familial status" (e.g. married vs unmarried; parent vs childless).

As for not posting out the jobs, this is not a violation of law but may be a violation of company policy.  

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 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.

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