“Can an employer require employees to relocate for a promotion, and refuse to promote them if they don’t relocate?”

Question: There are a couple of levels of management above mine that often have openings company-wide, including my location.

I’m told by HR that I may not apply for any open positions that are above mine and located in my own location because I am required to relocate to a different company location for advancement.

Can I be denied promotion for this reason? One note: during the times that those positions have been vacant at my location, I and my co-workers have been responsible for filling in.

 Destin, Florida

Answer: Whether or not to promote an employee, whether or not to place conditions on promotion, and what those conditions may be, are entirely up to an employer, with two exceptions:

(1) decisions cannot be based on “improper” reasons, such as race, age, pregnancy, gender, and other “protected categories”; and

(2) unless a contract of employment (including a union contract) provides otherwise.

Your employer may have its own reasons – and they are entitled to be stupid reasons –  for placing that condition on promotion. A few times I have heard of employers who have such a rule because they believe a person promoted to become the manager of his (former) colleagues may (a) have a hard time attaining the respect a manager needs to manage, and (b) (former) colleagues who were passed over for that same promotion may be upset, and try to sabotage efforts of their new manager.

The fact that you and your co-workers at times fill in for the higher positions would not change the overall right of your employer to place conditions on promotion and advancement.

If you would like to obtain a “model” memo to help you Request a Raise or Promotion [click here].

Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Thanks for writing in.

           Best, Al Sklover

©  2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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