What can I do if my promotion was nit given after a written offer?

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What can I do if my promotion was nit given after a written offer?

I have been at my current job for 9 months. After 1 month at the job, I met with the VP of our division who had approached me about wanting to eventually move me into a role in a new department; one that is a career move that I have been working towards for a while. He had told me that it was his plan but no promises yet. Fast forward to 5 months later. I am butting heads with my current boss which is very common as most do have issues with him. So I decided to approach the VP, my boss’ boss. I stated that I have been having issues with my current boss yet am happy to be working for the company and wanted to find out if he had any further info on possibly moving me over to the new department. He understood and stated he would look into it. A week or so later, I received an email stating that he had talked to the COO and CEO and they both were on board with me moving to this new department and changing my role. He stated that I would be reporting directly to him and that he would make the announcement after a new engineer had started but to keep the promotion confidential until it was announced. He asked me, until then, to focus on my current role and training the new engineer. The new engineer was not my replacement but 1 of 2 engineer positions. The engineer came on board but my announcement never came. Over the months, I wrote many emails and there was slow progress. He had me develop a job description and deliverables. Other than that, no movement except for 1 or 2 emails he CC’ed me on that happened to have something to do with parts of the job I would be doing. Finally, about 5 weeks ago, I pressed him one final time via text message to find out the timeline. I asked him, again, when we were going to meet and sync up with what’s going on, and getting me up to speed with the role the VP is currently in charge of the role I was going to move to. He said he was finalizing with HR that week. I have heard nothing from the VP since then. I’ve come to realize that the most likely reason for this is that there was never any promotion or approval from the COO and CEO and that this was only promised to me so that I would stay on long enough to train the new engineer before I wised up to the fact that I wasn’t getting a promotion. Can the company or VP do this? Is this a legal tactic? Can they promise employees promotions to keep them long enough to minimize the risk to the company from the loss of that employee? Do I have any recourse here or have I just been legally manipulated.

Asked on February 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that your "written offer" did not constitute a binding contract. It was merely a notice that a promotion was coming through. Further, a company is free to promote, demote, etc. much as it sees fit. Accordingly, your not receiving your promotion does not give rise to a legal claim. While unfair, this action is not illegal. This is true so long as your treatment does not violate the terms of any controlling union/collective bargaining agreement or employment contract. Also, it must not be due to any form of legally actionable discrimination.


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