I have worked for a company in Mass for over 10 years and cant get promoted unless I am mobile. Is this discrimination?

Asked over 2 years ago - Cambridge, MA

I have many awards in my job and I am highly recognized in my role and reputation. I can't get to the next level unless I move to another state or relocate. Is this a form of discrimination? or who do I talk to to find out more about this.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. William N. Chambers

    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If relocation is a requirement for a promotion then you may be out luck if you refuse. Without knowing specifics, such as if you have a contract specifying promotions, a union membership, etc. it would be irresponsible to speculate. Look for an experienced Employment Law Attorney to discuss this in much greater detail.

    If you are in Massachusetts, my answering of your question does not constitute an attorney/client relationship and... more
  2. Allyson E. Kurker

    Contributor Level 1


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I field a lot of questions like this one. One of the things that's very difficult to understand is that an employer can take almost any employment action it wishes as long as that action is not based on discriminatory animus, which is a fancy way of saying that you can't discriminate on the basis of race, religion, disability, sex and so on. As I tell potential clients frequently, your boss is legally entitled to terminate you for having purple hair or because s/he doesn't like your shirt. The decision can be arbitrary or unfair -- but as long as it is not discriminatory (or some other narrow exception) you can't do anything about it.

  3. Christine C McCall


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This is a very common feature of many higher-level positions in many fields. It is not likely that this requirement will be held to be unlawful as it is very easy to articulate legitimate business purposes and needs for this practice.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice.... more
  4. Pamela Anne Smith

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . I agree with the other comments by my legal colleagues. The only thing I will add is that if your inability to relocate is based on some disability, or if you think you are being asked to relocate due to some illegal condition like age or sex discrimination or retaliation for being a whistleblower, you might want to consult an attorney to explore all your options.

    This information should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.
  5. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.

    The harsh reality is employees and job applicants have very few employment rights, and employers have a lot of leeway in how they choose to run their businesses. In general, an employer can be unfair, obnoxious or bad at management. And an employer can make decisions based on faulty or inaccurate information. An employer has no obligation to warn an employee that he or she is not performing as the employer wants. It’s not a level playing field. An employer hires employees to provide work for its benefit, not for the benefit of the employees. Don't expect the employer to take care of its employees; it doesn’t have to and it rarely does.

    There are some limitations on what an employer can do, mostly in the areas of public policy (such as discrimination law or whistle blowing), contract law, union-employer labor relations, and constitutional due process for government employees. Please see my guide to at-will employment which should help you understand employment rights: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overvie.... After you take a look at the guide, you may be able to identify actions or behavior that fits one of the categories that allows for legal action. If so, an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney may be helpful.

    You asked if this is discrimination. Many people misunderstand the meaning of employment discrimination. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, respectful or has to make good decisions. Workplace discrimination means the employer treats one person or group differently from others who are not in the same group, but are similarly situated.

    The only workplace discrimination that is illegal is discrimination that is against public policy. Public policy refers only to things that are specifically prohibited by a statute (law) enacted by the legislature, or prohibited by a regulation promulgated (established) by a government agency. Under federal law, public policy includes statutes prohibiting discrimination against people in specific protected groups, which include sex, race, national origin, disability, age (40 years and older), religion, marital status, pregnancy and genetic information. Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination. There is no federal protection for sexual orientation discrimination, but many states provide this protection.

    Public policy also protects people who blow the whistle on a matter of public concern, complain about improper wage and hour practices, and a few more rights protected by statute.

    An employer cannot refuse to hire, refuse to promote, change terms of employment or fire an employee if the reason for the change is against the law (against public policy). For example, an employer cannot increase your workload because of your race, sex, national origin, religion, etc. or because you blew the whistle on safety violations

    There are various ways to enforce these rights, depending on the particular public policy involved. For more information on employment discrimination, please see my Avvo guide on this subject: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/what-is-un...

    (continued in Comment below)

    *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your... more

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