Is This Legal for My Employer to Do? Just Curious If Anyone Knows.

Updated on July 01, 2011
R.L. asks from Farmington, MI
15 answers

I work for a large company where there are always internal job postings for different departments and positions. Currently my department will not allow anyone to apply or be hired by another department until the fall. However, none of the other departments have this restriction in the company. Others can apply and start new positions, it's only my department that can't. By the time this restriction is lifted, the jobs are no longer available. This is costing people in my department money from potential raises, and future promotions and raises because of a missed opportunity. Is this legal? Is this discrimination? Does anyone know?

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answers from Chicago on

Happened to me in my department at one point too. They do this to avoid being one of the departments that are looking for new people I think. It sucks, I was told to "get around it" was to put in my two weeks and apply then but I could be totally out of a job then. I just stuck with where I was for the time being.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm a former HR manager and I don't think this is illegal. Especially if there is a business reason that losing people from your department would put the company at risk, this is acceptable. You certainly could ask for a reason, and you may or may not get one. There could be a new project coming up or a reorganization of your area, or any other business reason that caused a decision made to not allow movement for a couple of months.

You state that "there are always internal job postings" but then you say that by the fall "the jobs are no longer available". If there are always jobs open, then there will be open jobs in the fall that people in your department can apply for.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi R.,

In the most respectful way, I would talk to HR and simply ask why employees in your department are not eligible to apply for better positions within the company. What doesn't make sense to me, and I have worked in HR for very big organizations, is why? In most cases, employers want to see employees stay in their original positions for at least one year. During that time an employee's performance can be fairly evaluated. If the evaluation is good, there should be no reason why they should not be able to advance to another department or position.

If you don't feel you get a satisfactory answer, then you should privately contact the Labor Board. Keep your job, keep your pride, but do your research quietly.


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answers from Minneapolis on


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answers from Redding on

It's hard to answer not knowing the nature of the business.
I will use an example of my hospital Many of the positions are specified "inter departmental transfers only". Part of the reason for this is that working in the maternity ward, for instance, requires a certain level of education, background check, immunization records and training for dealing with the legalities of birth certificates, etc. I could get training and a license in nursing and be first pick if a nursing postion opened because I'm already there and familiar with the policies and procedures. Someone who sterilizes surgical instruments in the OR might not have the training or computer qualifications to be a registration specialist. Someone who schedules radiology appointments might not fit the same requirements for someone who is a unit secretary.
Like I said, not knowing the nature of the business or your department, it's hard to know why they have the policy in place that they do.
Your department might be one that can't recover from losing a good person to fill another position.
One thing I learned working at a hospital is that it's all about budgets. Many departments need more help, but often they rarely get more than approving the absorbing of other duties.
I don't see that it's illegal. Frustrating to be sure.
I would talk to your HR person and just simply ask why the restrictions are in place especially since you have seen some other postions that might interest you. Say that you're just curious.
It might help to have an explanation.
Hang in there.
Fall will be here soon and hopefully you have some informational ammunition for when the time comes to make yourself available for the other positions.

Best wishes.

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answers from Norfolk on

Just want to clarify "discrimination" is not illegal. There are protected qualities that it is illegal to discriminate against, such as race, religion, or physical disability, but there are many, many classifications that it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against..... education, language, professional appearance.

I would double check with human resources that your department does indeed have the authority to Freeze Hiring in this fashion. Not illegal, but curious.

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answers from Phoenix on

Have you asked HR? I think it's too broad of a subject for us to answer, without knowing more info about your line of work, company, inter company policies, etc.

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answers from Redding on

It may be covered in the company policy, they may be allowed to do it. Sounds fishy tho and worth your investigation.

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answers from Hartford on

You need to contact Human Resources and ask them if this restriction is indeed true and if it is, why. It's not illegal but it may be a current company policy dependent on projects or contracts that the company is holding. Maybe they're trying to prevent an appearance of sex, ethnic, or other type of social discrimination that could get them in trouble or show favoritism. There could be any number of reasons but you need to check company policy, which is probably up on the company web site or in a company handbook, but will definitely be with Human Resources.

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answers from San Francisco on

Sounds illegal to me-- run it by HR and ask them. GL!




answers from Detroit on

You may want to check with your human resources department. Internal job posting should be fair game to all that are interested.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Call your states labor board. They know the laws and if it is not legal that is who you would file a complaint to anyway.



answers from Detroit on

No this is not legal. I suggest you and the other employees who are wanting to apply for other jobs, speak with someone in your human resources department and if no results there, seek legal advice.

It sounds to me like the head of your department is very happy with everyone's productivity and may be too lazy to train new employees.

Someone has to make a change. Get everyone on board and fight this. There is power in numbers.

Good luck with this and let us know what happens.



answers from Chicago on

do you know why this policy is in place?


answers from St. Louis on

It really depends on the labor laws in your state. Generally it is not illegal. Think about it this way, they didn't put up the notices, you apply and didn't get the job, would you actually know the reason why?

What I would do is first get over it because attitude is key. Then speak to HR or a supervisor. Say I am so glad you appreciate the work we do. I really like it here but as you know inflation is out of control. (or whatever discourse is normal for you) I would really appreciate a raise since I am doing such a great job you don't want to lose me.

After all they can restrict where you apply within their company, they can't stop you from walking.

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