Home » William D King- When Can You Legally Fire Someone Who Was Just Promoted?

William D King- When Can You Legally Fire Someone Who Was Just Promoted?

Let’s face it: Some of the most difficult employees to deal with aren’t necessarily those who are poorly skilled or apathetic says, William D King. Sometimes they’re the ones we hire and promote — and later regret. But can you fire an employee after promoting him? Is there a time limit on that, like with how long someone has been employed before he is considered “permanent” (and therefore harder to let go)?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but here are some tips for when you can legally fire someone after promoting him:

Is He Still in His Trial Period as a Promoted Employee?

Some employers allow newly promoted employees to serve out their trial periods as their new rank designation (e.g., from director to vice president) before evaluating their overall performance. If that’s the case, then you must use caution when terminating a promoted employee — if he suspects it was because of his promotion, he’ll likely have a good chance in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

If You Fired Him Over His Performance or Behavior

Some employees aren’t able to perform up to standards after they’ve been promoted — and that may be a bad reflection on your observations leading up to the promotion. In this case, you should document why the newly promoted employee wasn’t measuring up after his promotion. It can help demonstrate that you were focused on his performance throughout his original term of employment (which is especially critical if there are others who also didn’t meet expectations), and again during the promotion evaluation.

If You Fired Him Solely for Being in a Protected Class…

One of the biggest things to watch out for is when you promote an employee, and suddenly he becomes unable or unwilling to perform his job. He may even allege that something happened in his personal life that made him suddenly unfit for work. Such as a disability or family emergency explains William D King. In this case, it’s vital that your reasons don’t solely rely on assumptions. If you fire someone because you think he became disabled after being promoted. But can’t prove it with facts (such as a doctor’s note). Then there’s a good chance he’ll win in court under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If You Promoted Him and Then Found There Was a Problem With His Hire…

If you should have known about a terrible hiring decision. Before promoting the employee, it might be easier to justify firing him later. For instance, if you promoted an employee after he had been convicted of fraud by your corporation’s background check vendor. But didn’t catch it until after his promotion. Then this would likely give you grounds to terminate him after discovering the issue.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

When taking on new employees or promotions, companies are often drawing in. By glowing references from executive recruiters and other talent-management professionals. However, it’s always important to do your own due diligence on the candidates. Before making any decisions based on their recommendations. As seen above, sometimes employees don’t meet the standard they’re expecting to after a promotion. This is why it’s vital that you use any and all resources available to you. When making hiring and promotion decisions.

There are two perspectives on this:

1) If I promote someone, I can fire him if he isn’t doing his job well enough. I would probably not promote him in the first place);

2) If I promote someone, I should keep him until he is no longer able or willing to do his job since. Once he was promoted he became permanent (unless there is a good reason for termination). Of course, both of these positions may violate some legal requirement or obligation. That exists outside of my control says, William D King. After reading about what some pitfalls might be, I’m inclined to lean towards the 2nd position.

The Supreme Court did not held that promotions can never be withdraw after they have been grant. The case is a bit misleading because it only appears on the surface as if promotion was involve. In reality, it’s much easier to withdraw a merit increase than a promotion–it still requires a showing of cause. But much less proof would be need to take back a pay raise or other appreciation in salary. From an employee who fails to meet expectations after being promote. The key for employers will likely remain whether those employees believed they were now permanent. And were affect by the subsequent withdrawal of their new status as promote employees (i.e., where they act as if they had been permanent).


You can withdraw a promotion after it is granting. But it must be tie to poor performance and you can’t hold the fact that they were promote against them.

You should promote employees only if there is a good reason for promotion (see above). Otherwise, you expose yourself to legal risks. In this case, firing an employee because he wasn’t able or willing to do his job well. After being promote will likely violate the ADA’s requirement of “reasonable accommodation” of people with disabilities. If he claims he can no longer work there even with some sort of accommodations.