Can you bypass a qualified bidder for promotion?

When a Grade I Electrician's vacancy occurred, Grade II applicant Phil Standish assumed he was first in line for the job.
By Raymond Dreyfack May 1, 1998

When a Grade I Electrician’s vacancy occurred, Grade II applicant Phil Standish assumed he was first in line for the job. The assumption was based on his seniority plus the number of times he had been called upon to perform tasks normally assigned to Grade I men. Standish was thus dismayed and peeved to learn that Maintenance Supervisor Scott Goodkin planned to go outside to fill the opening.

Standish pulled no punches in confronting his boss. “What have you got against me? Everyone knows I’m in line for that job.”

“It’s nothing personal,” Goodkin assured him. “I have to call the shots as I see them.”

“On what basis? I’m entitled to know.”

“No rule requires me to explain my decision, but since you raised the question, I’ll tell you. First, though you’re somewhat qualified, I think you’re a little light for the job. More important, Phil, you have attitude problems that work against you. They can be changed, of course, with the future in mind, but you’ll have to convince me of that first.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

Goodkin shrugged. “If I shared that opinion, you would have been picked for the job.”

Standish tried another tack. “What about your being in violation of the contract.”

“How do you figure that?”

“The contract states that promotions must be based on seniority and ability. I have both.”

“That’s true, but in my judgment not to the degree required.”

Standish stomped off and threatened to sue.

Question: If Standish can prove he is qualified for the promotion, can management be forced to give it to him.

Belnap’s decision: Plant Engineer Arthur Belknap agreed with Goodkin that he was within his rights in bypassing Standish for the promotion. “While seniority and job qualification are certainly key factors in promotion decisions, attitude is equally important. On top of that, no clause in the labor agreement restricts management from hiring outside the company when it feels the job can’t be filled from within.”

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