Getting a job at a company is only the beginning of someone’s professional development within an organization. As they establish a work history at a company, they can potentially move either into other departments or upward within their area of expertise. For example, someone who starts in an entry-level position may eventually move into a managerial or executive role.
In theory, promotions provide an opportunity for companies to reward their most ambitious employees and for workers to pursue better compensation for the labor and services they provide. In practice, internal promotions often involve nepotism or quid pro quo favors from someone in management, making it a largely unpredictable and often unfair process.
In some cases, companies eventually establish a pattern of promoting certain types of people over others. This kind of promotion discrimination can prevent people from fully developing their careers and can be a product of explicit or implicit bias.
Who is at risk of promotion discrimination?
Many different protected characteristics could influence someone’s chances of moving into management or an executive role at a company. Organizations should not consider protected characteristics when deciding who to move into a new role at the company any more than they should consider those factors when hiring or firing people.
Unfortunately, certain groups of people may find it harder than others within a company to move up past a certain point. When women suddenly find that they no longer get promotions or other important career opportunities, experts refer to them as hitting the glass ceiling. Research has also established that race often factors into promotion discrimination.
Someone’s age, especially if they are over 40, might unfairly influence an employer’s decision about whether they are a good fit for an advancement opportunity. Religion, disability and national origin are also all characteristics that should not influence advancement decisions and could potentially be the source of promotion discrimination.
Those who are facing discrimination can fight back
When a company has established a clear pattern of bypassing certain groups or specific individuals for advancement opportunities, the affected individual could potentially pursue a claim against their employer.
Looking at a company’s treatment of a specific individual and others that share their protected characteristic(s) can help people develop a case related to promotion discrimination in the workplace and to potentially fight back against their employer’s discriminatory employment decisions with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.