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Are work promotion or raise a right or a privilege?


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Old 12th November 2011, 8:46 PM   #1
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Are work promotion or raise a right or a privilege?

Just to give you the context: I am working on a hypothetical case in which a female employee complained she had not gotten a raise since day one because she's a woman. She's worked for this internet communications company for five months as a programmer and was late to work three times - the last time she was fired.

Can a company promote/give raises as it sees fit? E.g. if I have five employees and one for them is really productive, smart and professional, can I promote them and give them a high raise, but keep others at the same position and salary for years because they are mediocre?

I know I can check the law on this, but I am more interested in people's personal experiences and the silently established business-community practices. I understand that promotions and raises are expected, but this is to preserve the talented employees. What if I don't care about keeping them? Like fast-food restaurants, for example. They pay peanuts because when you get sick of working hard for $800 a month, they'll easily replace you with someone else - it'll take them a few hours to train them.
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Old 12th November 2011, 9:22 PM   #2
 
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Originally Posted by RecordProducer View Post
Just to give you the context: I am working on a hypothetical case in which a female employee complained she had not gotten a raise since day one because she's a woman. She's worked for this internet communications company for five months as a programmer and was late to work three times - the last time she was fired.
Excessive tardiness can be grounds for termination. She probably got a verbal warning, written warning with a performance plan or written warning, then dismissed.

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Originally Posted by RecordProducer View Post
Can a company promote/give raises as it sees fit? E.g. if I have five employees and one for them is really productive, smart and professional, can I promote them and give them a high raise, but keep others at the same position and salary for years because they are mediocre?
Yes, the consulting world is such. Just because you do what the job requires and another person does the same thing with business development; the person with business development will get the promotion. Anyone can do the work but not everyone has the packaged skills (connections, education, luck, soft skills, etc..) to grow the business.

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Originally Posted by RecordProducer View Post
I know I can check the law on this, but I am more interested in people's personal experiences and the silently established business-community practices. I understand that promotions and raises are expected, but this is to preserve the talented employees. What if I don't care about keeping them? Like fast-food restaurants, for example. They pay peanuts because when you get sick of working hard for $800 a month, they'll easily replace you with someone else - it'll take them a few hours to train them.
It is not hard to flip a burger, it is harder to buy the meat, ground the meat, season, shape, and then cook the burger.
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Old 12th November 2011, 9:42 PM   #3
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I think it should be a "right" if you do your job well, and a "priviledge" to recieve a raise if you do your job well. It's actually in the best interest of the company, no matter how small or large, to reward hard workers- the people that go beyond and above the call of duty. Companies that don't reward hard workers will lose good employees, whereas companies that don't reward mediocre employees, have nothing much to lose.

If you're a slacker and don't produce results, or are just content to coast doing the minimum required in your job description- you're entitled to nothing but a cost of living raise which may be a requirement of the law in certain jurisdictions.

Last edited by D-Lish; 12th November 2011 at 9:48 PM..
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Old 12th November 2011, 11:19 PM   #4
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Excessive tardiness can be grounds for termination. She probably got a verbal warning, written warning with a performance plan or written warning, then dismissed.
This is a hypo, so the case doesn't really exists, although similar cases may exist. She received a written warning which she signed saying "one hour late, second offense, next time will be terminated."

A week later, she tells her boss she feels she hasn't gotten a raise b/c she's a woman, so she's discriminated against. A week after the complaint (2 weeks after the last tardiness), she is late again - and the boss fires her ass. She brings a retaliatory discharge claim and the issue is basically whether the tardiness is a pretext for the termination and the real reason is retaliation because she complained of discrimination.

Any thoughts?

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I think it should be a "right" if you do your job well, and a "priviledge" to recieve a raise if you do your job well.
But if it's a "right," then the employee can go ahead and shout "I am entitled to a raise and I didn't get one, I will sue you and you can't fire me for excercising my rights."

There's a law that says you can't discriminate, so if you give raises to white people only, you'll get sued. But if all your workers are of the same race, gender, religion, age and you give raises to the ones who kiss your ass, it's not discrimination against some protected (by law) group.

Last edited by RecordProducer; 12th November 2011 at 11:21 PM..
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Old 12th November 2011, 11:56 PM   #5
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Can a company promote/give raises as it sees fit?
Yes. Not even a government can intervene in this process, unless it has shares in the company.

Quote:
E.g. if I have five employees and one for them is really productive, smart and professional, can I promote them and give them a high raise, but keep others at the same position and salary for years because they are mediocre?
Yes. One way is to have employees sign contracts where they accept that they'll be promoted and get raises based on performance/results.

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What if I don't care about keeping them?
That depends on their contracts under which you hired them. Such contracts are legally binding, so you'll have to look at the terms and conditions listed in the contract under which you hired a particular employee. In medium to large companies different employees tend to have different contracts. Why? Because some positions need to be filled at all times and others don't. If business slows down, then certain positions will be redundant and it then makes sense to give such employees contracts that allows a superior to end their position in the case business slows down.

Last edited by Nexus One; 13th November 2011 at 12:11 AM..
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Old 13th November 2011, 12:26 AM   #6
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A raise in pay is not a right. I could be however if the written terms of employment promise a raise. Even if it's customary to give raises periodically, it's not a right. A person who works for a salary is usually given cyclical performance evaluations in which their work and their value to the company is formally considered. A "raise" is both a reward for good performance and an incentive to continue working there, although no further raise is automatically a "right".
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Old 13th November 2011, 1:20 AM   #7
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I think 5 months is way too early to have any expectation of a raise and she's looking for a quick buck.
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Old 13th November 2011, 3:48 AM   #8
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If it was a right to have raises and promotions than everybody would be the CEO. It's just nonsense. What kind of employee makes such a complaint when they have a poor record re timekeeping as well.

Other questions in such a scenario would be did her colleagues get raises etc? Did any of them have some form of disciplinary action against them (like her)? Were any of them women or were they all men? Was she still on her probationary period?
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Old 13th November 2011, 9:05 AM   #9
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If someone's contract promises a raise, then they have to receive it. For example, some professions (e.g. medicine, teaching) put employees on a pay grade, and they go up one pay grade every year, so they get slightly more money. But if someone wasn't promised a raise, they have no right to demand one.

Usually what would happen is that if someone is a good employee, the company will give them a raise in order to retain them and show that they're valued. If the employee doesn't receive a raise, after a few years they'll probably realize that their career isn't progressing and will look for a better job elsewhere. So a company needs to offer regular promotion and career progression to retain its best employees. If an employee's career doesn't progress, they can't demand a raise, but they're free to vote with their feet and look for a better paid job elsewhere.
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Old 13th November 2011, 9:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by RecordProducer View Post
She received a written warning which she signed saying "one hour late, second offense, next time will be terminated." A week later, she tells her boss she feels she hasn't gotten a raise b/c she's a woman, so she's discriminated against. A week after the complaint (2 weeks after the last tardiness), she is late again - and the boss fires her ass.
The boss followed through on the threat of termination which was made before the employee mentioned that she felt discriminated against. She was told that she'd be fired the next time she was late, and that's exactly what happened. So I don't think she can claim unfair dismissal - she was given adequate warning that lateness would result in termination, and she still persisted in being late, so she effectively caused herself to be fired due to her own actions.

The threat was made first, a whole week before discrimination was mentioned - so how could the threat be retaliation to something which hadn't even happened yet?! In fact, you could probably argue that the employee claimed discrimination in retaliation to being told off for being late!
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Old 13th November 2011, 10:09 AM   #11
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Underperforming employees don't deserve raises/promotions. If it were a right, they'd have no incentive to perform.
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Old 13th November 2011, 10:32 AM   #12
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I am working on a hypothetical case in which a female employee complained she had not gotten a raise since day one because she's a woman.
If there were documents showing that no woman had ever received a raise/promotion at that company and that the company did give raises/promotion, then she *might* have a case for discrimination by gender. As an example, if the programming staff was mixed male and female and it could be shown that males were given preferential treatment.

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She's worked for this internet communications company for five months as a programmer and was late to work three times - the last time she was fired.
If the instances were documented and the law/employment contract allowed dismissal as a legal and conforming remedy, then her claim of any protected class status could easily be challenged.

If she were clever, she might get more traction out of an action which utilizes current or prospective aspects of 'Healthy Workplace' bills which are currently being considered and/or enacted. The trick is to catch the employer off-guard where they haven't gotten proper legal advice on some new aspect of relations and turn that into a settlement cow.

Anyway, unless contractually guaranteed (in our case, generally through CBA), promotions and raises, in my industry at least, occur at the will and whim of the employer/supervisor/boss, etc.

What amazes me, in this tight job market, how many (real, not hypothetical) employees continue to risk dismissal by blatant displays of poor behavior, like tardiness. I mean, how hard is it to show up to work on time? Boy, have times changed.
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Old 13th November 2011, 12:09 PM   #13
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SO long as the business is following the federal regulations which clearly state that pay be given for time worked, then no its not a right to receive pay raise.

My establishment has made it cleared that we are not guaranteed a cost of living raise no matter how much profit is brought in for that quarter. We do not get pay raises for anything unless the govt changes the minimum pay and they have to abide by it.

The concept that I have witnessed though in business for getting raises is simple...its who you know not how much you know. Our business runs on the
premise that if you do more you get paid less....they have more chiefs then indians so us indians are pummelled with more task at a lower scale.

The hypothetical scenario makes it clear the employee was given written warning. Management did its duty, if she couldn't pick up the pace and improve on time management then they are at liberty to dismiss her. Based on her tardiness.
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Old 13th November 2011, 3:27 PM   #14
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Thumbs up Thanks everyone for your replies.

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Originally Posted by Citizen Erased View Post
I think 5 months is way too early to have any expectation of a raise and she's looking for a quick buck.
I know. Well, this is not a real case, but I too thought the same thing. In the hypo some other guy received a$15,000 raise in one year (from $45K to $60K). I thought that was weird.

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In the OP's hypothetical case, it would be interesting to see her general employee record/performance.
Let me clarify, the case doesn't really exist, it's a law school hypo, so I don't know what her performance would be. We assume it was fine, because the company claims they fired her only because she was late 3 times.
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Old 14th November 2011, 3:47 AM   #15
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I somehow missed some posts

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Originally Posted by Eeyore79 View Post
The boss followed through on the threat of termination which was made before the employee mentioned that she felt discriminated against. She was told that she'd be fired the next time she was late, and that's exactly what happened. So I don't think she can claim unfair dismissal - she was given adequate warning that lateness would result in termination, and she still persisted in being late, so she effectively caused herself to be fired due to her own actions.

The threat was made first, a whole week before discrimination was mentioned - so how could the threat be retaliation to something which hadn't even happened yet?! In fact, you could probably argue that the employee claimed discrimination in retaliation to being told off for being late!
Eeyore,if you're not a lawyer, you SHOULD be one! You made great arguments!

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If there were documents showing that no woman had ever received a raise/promotion at that company and that the company did give raises/promotion, then she *might* have a case for discrimination by gender. As an example, if the programming staff was mixed male and female and it could be shown that males were given preferential treatment.
There's a document that shows 4 male programmers got raises, but ranging from $3,000-15,000 and one female who didn't buy she only worked less than 4 months. So,there's some smoke about gender discrimination. Great observation!
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