letting hiring manager know I’ll take legal action if my transfer is unjustly denied

A reader writes:

Two years ago, I was promoted to an executive director role in another division three hours away. I moved and have done very well with awesome performance reviews. Then this week, my company posted the executive director position in my home division and I so want to return home. However, I fear I will be told no because I’ve done so well in the location I hate. Can I be denied the transfer if I exceed the position qualifications and have more experience than any other candidate? What can I say nicely to allow the hiring manager know I plan to take legal action if my request is unjustly denied?

Whoa. Do not tell the hiring manager that you plan to take legal action if you don’t get the transfer, because there’s no law that requires your employer to give you a transfer, even if you’re the best qualified candidate. They can refuse to give you a transfer on any grounds they want, as long as it’s not based on your race, religion, ethnicity, or other protected class, and as long as it’s not to retaliate against you for engaging in legally protected behavior (such as reporting illegal harassment).

Companies decide not to hire, transfer, or promote people who exceed the position’s qualifications all the time. Sometimes it’s because tons of people exceed the qualifications and they can only pick one. Sometimes it’s because they don’t think you’re the right cultural fit. Sometimes it’s because they want to hire the boss’s old college roommate instead, or because they just plain don’t like you. All of that is legal.

Apply for the position and make your best case for why you’d excel there. Explain that you want to return home. Do your best in the interview process. But beyond that, you can’t make them transfer you if they choose not to.

And more broadly, drop the idea of taking legal action when your employer doesn’t act the way you want. The law doesn’t force your employer to act the way you want. It prevents them from discriminating against you based on race, religion, etc., it prevents them from not paying you, it prevents them from breaking written contracts with you, and it enforces other fairly narrowly-defined rules. But it sure as hell doesn’t dictate who they must hire, promote, or transfer, and jumping to the idea of legal action (let alone an actual threat to your manager) is a really good way to poison your relationship with your employer, and potentially future employers too.

{ 136 comments… read them below }

  1. Canuck*

    It almost seems incomprehensible to me, that someone who is an executive director within an organization would believe that legal action is even an option in this case. Sorry to be blunt to the OP, but this is just odd to me, and also a tad egotistical. How can you know that you are the best candidate, without even knowing which other candidates are being considered?

    1. Anonymous*

      I had the exact same reaction – how could someone with the presumed smarts and experience to get to that position ask a question like “how do I NICELY tell my employer I will sue them if they don’t give me what I want?” Maybe we’re making assumptions about the OP’s experience level based on the title that aren’t accurate.

    2. moe*

      It doesn’t seem unusual at all to me. Lots of people think they have legal rights in the workplace that they don’t. Knowledge of employment law is pretty far removed from the knowledge required to be effective at pretty much any other job besides HR or, well, employment law.

      This just sounds like a frustrated person thinking of going the nuclear route. I know I’ve been there before.

    3. Max*

      It seems pretty commonplace to me – a lot of people spend most of their life believing that hard work is always rewarded, and a lot of people believe they’re more hard-working and driven than anyone else in their workplace, so when something they want comes up they feel like they clearly DESERVE it, especially if they’ve been recognized for their performance in the past. Potential hires refusing to believe that anyone could possibly have better qualifications than them comes up all the time on AAM’s blog.

      1. KayDay*

        a lot of people spend most of their life believing that hard work is always rewarded, and a lot of people believe they’re more hard-working and driven than anyone else in their workplace, so when something they want comes up they feel like they clearly DESERVE it, especially if they’ve been recognized for their performance in the past.

        well said. people sometimes take a good idea (hard work will be rewarded) and take it too far and make it too personal (I worked hard, so I am entitled to X)

        1. Nate*

          I agree. However its also a compa y issue because they lead you to believe they value employees and do things like give you priority for jobs when at some places tbey just dont do it.

      2. Just Me*

        I agree that many people are mistaken on what their “rights” are in the workplace.

        But I also agree with the above poster that in the OP’s position as an exec director, it is a little disconcerting that she believes that she can take legal action for not getting the job. I would think that at that level in the corporate world she would know better.
        I’d like to ask her if she has direct reports if that would be a recommended way of handling if they didn’t get a transfer they wanted? Would she be OK with “being sued”? Would she recommend that course of action to her family and friends?

        Question for OP…. Why do you think this is a legal course of action? What is the basis of your claim?

        1. KimmieSue*

          There seems to be a lack of professional business savvy and maturity with the OP. I’m curious what industry this “Executive Director” role might be in?

  2. Chicagochicky*

    This is weird. I’m with Canuck- how did this lady make it to the Executive Director level with that attitude. Maybe they just don’t want to move you right now?

    I think there’s a chance this lady works for the government. Their hiring and promotion criteria are very fixed, so the boss must always hire the most qualified candidate (legally!). If that’s the case, her attitude makes much more sense, though I don’t think it will do any favors for her career .

    1. Matthew*

      I don’t think the OP is a government employee.. if so, the proposd legal action would be even more hopeless.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        We don’t. I generally refer to people as “she” when I don’t know, out of habit and because it’s easier than writing “he or she” every time, and some readers may have picked that up.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      no no no. The government doesn’t legally have to do that. It’s that some elements of government are required by the government itself to follow some very stringent processes. But it’s not illegal for them not to, as long as it’s not because you’re part of a protected class. It would be handled by internal government grievance processes.

  3. EJ*

    It sounds like there’s more to the story there. Perhaps the OP has reason to think they would prevent him from transferring, or to feel he needs to protect himself.

    There must be positive approaches this forum could provide to help him without resorting to threats. I would imagine having a discussion the manager would be the place to start, especially if the move home is not a new request. If it is, it doesn’t sound like a difficult case to make if the OP meets the qualifications and has a proven track record. But OP, keep the discussion positive and demonstrate your value.

  4. Me*

    I do understand to some degree. However, I fear it would be easier to leave me where I’m at than to grant the transfer and fill my current position. I would find this to be terribly unfair.

    With that said, I know the internal candidates and if they would be selected this would be a promotion for them rather than a simple lateral move for me. Surely, this would work in my favor?

    Additionally, over the last few years other Executive Directors have been hired in other areas. It’s odd to me how I’m the lowest paid, yet have the highest educational background. The only difference between the others is I’m far younger that them.

    1. Anonymous*

      Unfair for whom? You’ve just provided a great reason why your employer would be better off not trsfing you. After echoing everyone else on not threatening your employer, prepare a business case why it is better (for them) to bring you in and backfill your current position – deal with transitioning, etc… Do you have a star employee who can step up to your position with you providing mentoring and other help in the transition ehike you can work at the other division wo significant ramp up time.
      That is something you can bring forward that could sell them on why you are the “best” person to bring in looking at whole organization.

    2. twentymilehike*

      It’s odd to me how I’m the lowest paid, yet have the highest educational background. The only difference between the others is I’m far younger that them.

      I really hate sounding harsh in any way, but I’m going to respond to this based on my own personal experiences …

      Your age is NOT the only difference. They are paying you less because they think you are worth less than the others. If you want to be paid more, you must prove it to them. Maybe you ARE worth more, but you have not yet convinced your employers of this. Continuing to think you are worth more, but not doing anything about it WILL make you bitter (unless you are superhuman an impervious to bitter feelings). You really only have one option, and that is to continue to prove your worth by your hard work and make sure your manager is aware of it. Education alone does not make for more value! I have a college degree and my coworker does not. I know that he is making more money than me (I shouldn’t, but I do), but I also know a lot about his work and his value to the company and I think the dollar amount he earns is fair. My own compensation is en entirely independent matter. What value I bring to the company is between my boss and I and it’s up to me to prove.

      Sorry for the little rant there, but this is a hot button for me!

      1. Anonymous*

        They are paying you less because they think you are worth less than the others

        To be pedantic, that’s what the employer thought at the time salary was last discussed. Which might have been time of hire – as AaM often reminds people, employers don’t often spontaneously offer raises, even if the employee has earned them many times over.

        1. twentymilehike*

          employers don’t often spontaneously offer raises, even if the employee has earned them many times over

          Point taken. However, I have actually been in both situations–asked for a raise and informed of how I can earn it, and given spontaneous raises (I suppose depends on the company culture).

          You are right, though … I supposed I could have qualified my advice more clearly, however, when I said, “continue to prove your worth by your hard work and make sure your manager is aware of it” I assumed that would be taken as involving a discussion about compensation.

      2. Canuck*

        And really, your salary in comparison to others is a separate issue from your desire to be transferred. You should address both of them, but don’t lump them into one issue. What if your company paid you more, would you be willing to stay where you are? Or are you willing to sacrifice pay for a transfer closer to home?

      3. JT*

        “They are paying you less because they think you are worth less than the others. ”

        Or those other people are better negotiator, which is not representative of ongoing value to the company.

        The “friction” in hiring processes and labor markets (costs of seeking jobs, seeking candidates, training, etc) mean that pay is not always a perfect representation of market value.

      4. Neeta*

        They are paying you less because they think you are worth less than the others

        To me, that’s a rather idealistic view of the situation. Most of the time, you negotiate your salary, so the pay might not accurately reflect the quality of your work.

    3. Piper*

      It’s probably not because you’re younger. It’s because you have less experience as a result of being younger. Someone who has 25 years of experience can and should command a higher salary than someone in the same or similar position with only 5 years. Just basic employment economics at work here. Nothing weird about it.

      Oh, and the work force isn’t always fair. The earlier you learn that, the less crazy you’ll drive yourself.

  5. Julie*

    OP, unless you had a contract from them saying they’d transfer you back to your original location if a position ever became available, I’m not certain what legal action you think you could take against them. Could you elaborate, maybe?

  6. Me*


    I was told shortly after moving that I could return home by the previous CEO who has since passed so I’m sure it’s a mute point now. But, I just find it odd that a company would promote someone who is untested rather than moving a proven leader to the location they desire.

    1. Canuck*

      Actually, I don’t find that odd at all – they did that with you, when they promoted you and moved you to a new location!

      So clearly, they believe in promoting people and that it has a track record of being successful.

      I think what people are suggesting here, is that you need to focus on proposing to your company why you are the best candidate, and not on trying to force them to do it with the threat of legal action (which actually isn’t possible anyhow). And just be aware, that they may still not move you, for a huge number of reasons, that may be valid or unfair. But that’s life.

    2. Anonymous*

      That’d be moot point. (Or moo point. You know, like a cow’s opinion. It doesn’t matter. It’s moo.) There’s just a lot of jumping the gun here! There’s a lot of “I fear…” sentences. Fearing something will happen doesn’t mean it will. Is there no one you can talk to (calmly) and just say I’m excited to see this position, and that’s really where I want to work. So at least it’s out there and people know. Do your best to show why you’d be the best for the job and maybe you’ll be surprised. If you don’t get it, then perhaps it’s time to think about working for a new company in the location you want. But legal action shouldn’t be part of the equation. It may not happen for you. And that sucks. But you have options to move on to something else, or wait and try again.

    3. JamieG*

      Yes, that doesn’t sound like you have any legal standing (obvious caveat: not a lawyer). And it may seem odd to you, but companies are allowed to do odd things – even ridiculous, stupid things – and you still can’t take legal action.

      Plus, if they transfer you to your desired location, they’ll still have to find somebody to take the position that you’re currently occupying. It could very well be easier for them to just promote somebody and only have to deal with one breaking-in period than to relocate you and promote somebody to cover your previous position, thus dealing with two people new to their job/location.

    4. EngineerGirl*

      Because of their attitude maybe? Or they are easier to work with?

      Sorry OP, but there are many things that strike me as odd. For instance thinking that education should somehow guaruntee a higher salary. In fact, it is what you do with what you’ve been given is the major driver.

      Jobs are given to people for a variety of reasons. Ususally it is a combination of things that make a candidate superior. You may beat them out in one particular area but that doesn’t mean that you beat them out in all areas.

      If you are “too valuable” to leave your current position then that means you haven’t been doing your job. Part of your job is to train your replacement(s) and build a “strong bench” of multiple good employees that can do the job. That is the difference between good and great.

      1. BW*

        I’ve had the displeasure of knowing people who totally believed earning another degree = automatic salary bump even while they do the exact same job. Some of these people had actually gone to HR and demanded to know where their raise was. *facepalm* Where ever this notion is coming from, it is doing students everywhere a great disservice.

        1. Piper*

          This idea comes from the schools and our society at large. There is value placed on education, but some workplaces don’t care. But on the flip side, how many of these same organizations require a bachelor’s degree for receptionist positions or other positions that never before required degrees? And other positions that only used to require bachelor’s degrees now requiring graduate degrees (increasingly common in my field)?

          So really workplaces are perpetuating this idea, too. And for that matter, a lot of times on this blog in particular, I almost get the feeling that more education is looked down upon, as if it’s silly or useless, which I think is also a bit misleading.

          From personal experience, I went to grad school (not to get a higher salary, but to better myself), and my current employer (a Fortune 50), actually DOES care and views it as yet another notch in my belt to put me in line for a promotion, along with my experience and my accomplishments there and at previous jobs. And like I mentioned above, graduate degrees are becoming increasingly “preferred” in my field of work.

          Education doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but combined with other things, it can make you a stronger candidate. But I do agree that marching in to HR the second you obtain a higher degree and demanding a raise is, at best, ill advised.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think it’s that it’s generally discussed as being silly or useless, but rather people (including me) often point out that the idea that it will be a strong qualification for jobs or a higher salary is generally wrong-headed. Education is extremely useful — but not necessarily in a jobs context. Sometimes it’s mainly useful on a personal level, but doesn’t prepare you to do a job any better, and very often when it comes to approaching and succeeding at a job, experience will trump education. I think the responses you’ve picked up on come when people appear not to understand that latter point.

            (Obviously there are huge exceptions to this like medicine, law, etc., where the degree is necessary. But schools have seemingly made a point of allowing/encouraging students to think that nearly any degree will be rewarded with career progression, when that’s often not the case.)

            1. Editor*

              Schools and colleges award higher salaries based on advanced degrees. In particular, teens deal with a high school culture where the teachers receive salary increases when they add a degree or a certain number of credit hours.

              People who get a lot of career advice from high school teachers or who are the children of teachers or professors may not realize that an automatic salary bump for a degree is a characteristic of the education industry, not industry as a whole.

              1. Anon*

                Oh…this is such a good point. I’m an adjunct instructor at a major university, and I find that my advice to my students (don’t get a masters, get a job first) is always at odds with that of the full-time professors.

              2. Lils*

                Great explanation, thanks. Also a warning to those of us who are educators advising young people on careers.

          2. AP*

            On the point of companies requiring degrees for receptionist positions – this is because people are rarely hiring career receptionists and admins anymore. Jobs like that are now the entry/training level, so people require the edecucation level for whatever the next few steps up are, assuming that the entry job is just a stepping stone and that person will shortly be in a different role. In effect, the degree requirement is self-selection, on purpose.

        2. LMW*

          Unfortunately, some companies perpetuate this idea too…my mom received her bachelor’s the year before I did, after 15 years with her company. They gave her a 15% raise just for getting the degree, with no change to her job. She was glad for the raise, but really disturbed that she was suddenly worth so much more.

        3. Nichole*

          At my job, there *is* an automatic salary bump when you complete a higher level degree, you just have to provide proof and meet certain requirements (ie., if you already have a bachelor’s, completing an associate’s will not get a salary bump, whereas if you had no degree and earn an associate’s, you get one). Employees who have come from somewhere with that policy may think it’s standard rather than a perk-another reminder to actually READ your employee handbook. It’s the first thing I do when I start a new job. I also pay attention to the handbook updates that HR sends out. There have been times I was able to negotiate things I wanted that my manager didn’t even know about because I paid attention to all the if-then statements in the handbook.

        4. Laura L*

          I think some of it also comes from the data. On average, as a group, high school grads earn less than people with some college who earn less than people who complete college who earn less than people with graduate degrees.

          So, it’s true in a broad sense, but you can’t use that data to predict whether or not getting an advanced degree will help one, specific person. And it has nothing to do with whether your current job will give you a raise if you complete a graduate degree.

          1. BW*

            It’s also not because a degree results in an automatic pay increase. The data are this way likely because people with advanced degrees are more likely to be working in highly skilled positions that tend to pay higher wages than positions that require less training and skill.

  7. AB*

    “Me”, looking from their perspective, it does make sense to keep you doing well you are and bring someone untested to the position you want.

    Why? They know you are performing well where you are; there will always a risk (even if minor) that something would go wrong if you moved location (personality clash, etc.). Sure, there will be a risk the person they hire doesn’t work either, but they would be risking two mismatches as opposed to one if they decided to transfer you and hire for your position instead.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t convince them, but like others said, the onus is on you to show them that two changes instead of just one (filling the current opening) would make more sense for the company in the long run. Good luck!

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      It could also be that they have a stellar candidate for that position that isn’t willing to move to take over your position. So, they can hire that person over there, or they can transfer you, lose that candidate, and start the search for your position from scratch. If that’s the case, it’s going to be really hard to convince them to transfer you!

    1. Me*

      Ok, it is obvious that most feel I’m 100% wrong for feeling I deserve the job based on my track record, hight performance evals, and commitment. Does anyone have a sample template of a document I can present in my interview to demonstrate a plan of action and my strengths to get a cutting edge? Also, what about some general hard ball internal questions and suggested replies. I’m so worried guys!

      1. Cruciatus*

        No, I don’t think that’s what anyone is saying. You presume a lot of what other people think/are saying. I’m not sure if you’re really listening. And this could be something that is holding you back. You may deserve it for all of those things you mentioned. Your company may not hire you because of other reasons X, Y, and Z. It’s unfair. It sucks. The most you can do is show them what you’ve got, sell why it’s a great idea, show excitement, and hope for the best. Just know you might not get it.

      2. Julie*

        I don’t think that’s what people are saying. I think most people are saying that no one “deserves” a job, period. If you’ve got a great track record, good performance evals, and strong commitment, that’s definitely a good thing, and hopefully that will come across in your interview. Hopefully the company will see your eagerness, decide that you’re a great candidate, and transfer you back to the main office.

        But what people are saying is, there’s more at play here. You may not be the only person with a great track record and stellar evals. There may be other good candidates, or they may have someone in mind already, for whatever reason. They may just decide that you’re more useful and helpful to them where you are, instead of transferring you and finding someone to replace you.

        I’ve never worked at the executive director level, but I’m not sure a document would be the way to go, unless they’ve already asked you to bring one. Definitely you should think about the questions they’re likely to ask you (and one of them might be your action plan), and be ready to answer them compellingly, but I don’t know that I’d bring a physical document with me. Good luck!

        1. fposte*

          Listen to Julie here. This is not a personal thing–it’s that none of us are owed jobs we want, no matter how right for them we’d be.

          And the phrase “hard ball,” from somebody who was planning to threaten legal action, is making me raise my eyebrows. You keep framing this as if it were adversarial, and the best outcome comes when it’s not. If you’ve done any hiring, think about what makes you confident in the candidate. I’m guessing it’s not candidates who intimated that you’d be punished if you didn’t hire them, right? It’s candidates who gave you a clear vision of what they’d bring to the organization. And sometimes you might have hired the candidate who could serve the organization the best, rather than the most educated candidate, or the candidate who applied first–because it’s the organization’s job to benefit the organization.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            “If you’ve done any hiring, think about what makes you confident in the candidate. I’m guessing it’s not candidates who intimated that you’d be punished if you didn’t hire them, right?”

            Word. I know when I’m interviewing my spidey sense tingles at any signs that this person is going to bring drama or other crazy to the workplace. We have enough crazy already.

          2. Sarah Jane*

            You keep framing this as if it were adversarial, and the best outcome comes when it’s not.

            Of course it’s adversarial; every employee/employer situation is adversarial by nature. The employer wants the most result for the least amount of expense; the employee wants the most personal benefit possible. The best outcome does indeed come when both parties are satisfied with the transaction, but the reality of the American workplace today is that the employer almost always gets the much better end of the deal, and the employee is told to be grateful to have a job at all. I could offer up a nice rant about how such inequality of power systematically poisons any type of relationship, but that’s for another day.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I can’t think of a single time when I’ve seen an employer or employee approach a situation like this (or nearly any other) in an adversarial way and had it turn out well. Most successful people do not approach their employers (or employees) as adversaries!

              1. Sarah Jane*

                Turns out well from whose point of view? You can’t escape the basic fact that the more an employee costs, in terms of salary and benefits, is an equal amount that doesn’t go into the shareholders/owners pockets, in terms of revenue. You are talking attitude, and I am talking hard dollars and cents. It’s a zero-sum game. Always has been, always will be. The fact that each individual employee actually generates revenue has become less and less revelant as more employers demand that all employees generate greater revenue with less compensation in terms of salary and benefits.

                1. Jamie*

                  But you have to factor in the cost of turnover. Sure, you can underpay your employees and there will be excellent people willing to take less because they really need the job. But desperation doesn’t last forever and the further under market you pay the higher risk of losing people. Turn over can cost anywhere between 1-4 x someone’s salary, depending on the levels and skills involved.

                  I agree it’s about dollars, but it makes fiscal sense to keep good employees and paying people fairly and treating them reasonably well goes a long way toward that end.

                  Fwiw I don’t have an adversarial relationship with my employer – I would find it incredibly stressful to work in that scenario.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @Sarah Jane: Turn out well from both points of view, including the employee’s. I can’t think of a single successful person I know, myself included, who approached their career in the way you’re describing.

                3. fposte*

                  But you’re talking about the system. It doesn’t translate to the OP’s having more success by behaving adversarially. That’s kind of like saying that because marriage is historically an inequitable arrangement involving an extreme power differential between husband and wife, my colleage Beth should use physical force with her husband to make sure they vacation where she wants. The underlying systemic arrangement doesn’t justify a drastic approach at a personal level–and it also isn’t going to get the person what they want.

            2. fposte*

              A power differential is not the same thing as adversariality. If you think it is, then just about every relationship is poisoned, because there’s never a situation where people have the exact same amount of power (or, for that matter, agree on everything).

              More to the point, if you approach it, as the OP has thought about doing, in an overtly adversarial manner, it’s going to hurt your cause rather than help it.

              1. Sarah Jane*

                Every relationship – personal, professional, what have you – is affected by the power differential. Each relationship is based on a cost-benefit analysis that happens – admittedly, on a generally subconcious level- on a daily basis. When the power balance becomes too one-sided, any relationship is indeed poisoned. While I agree that jumping directly into litigation is not effective, that’s largely a matter of the Anglo-Saxon legal process, rather that any intrinsic rightness or wrongness of the positions of the parties involved.

          3. Job seeker*

            There is the old saying “You catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.” That said, I believe trying to build and keep a positive relationship will benefit you. To threatened someone (especially a employer) with legal action, I think would backfire. I would hope someone would consider me because of positive reasons not because I could try to make trouble. Good luck. I hope you get your transfer, I know how it is to be homesick.

            1. BW*

              I don’t often get threatened with legal action, but when I do, I tell the person “Good luck with that, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

              If Me could take the perspective of her employer – you have 2 great candidates with all the right qualifications. One is positive and focuses on the value they bring to the position and an eagerness to work with you, and the other threatens some consequences like legal action if they don’t get the job. Who would you be most comfortable hiring?

      3. Mimi*

        Does this rub anyone else the wrong way? Sample template? General questions/suggested replies? You can’t come up with that stuff yourself?

        1. moe*

          You mean the way this website gives people exact phrasing for interviews and tough conversations every day?

          No, it doesn’t rub me the wrong way that someone is on a career blog asking for career advice. Yeesh!

          1. Jamie*

            I don’t know, I get what Mimi meant. It struck me as off to ask for a vague document template and non-specific questions. If the OP was entry level that would be one thing, but at the Director level most people have enough of a foundation to have more specific questions about the nuances, or whatever.

            But I chalked it up to communication from the OP I find odd as well. I.e. that we 100% think she’s wrong to feel like she deserves the job – that was a huge and erroneous leap. Here is a franticness to the communication that is off putting, at least that’s howit reads to me. Jumping to conclusions, asking about random documents, questions, it just has a feeling of panic and unpreparedness and I wouldn’t be surprised if others were responding to this as well.

            1. Mimi*

              That’s what I was alluding to – it didn’t strike me as a legitimate request for help on acing an interview. More like, “give me a cheat sheet I can use to ensure I get this job”.

              1. BW*

                It also struck me as an odd request from someone at the director level. Presumably someone at that level already has the skills, experience, and smarts to get there already…seeing as they are already there.

            2. Kelly O*

              See, I’m wondering if this is not truly where the OP’s problem lies. (And I get wanting to move closer to your family. I hat being so far from mine.)

              You can be a high-level performer, achieve all sorts of goals (whatever your personal criteria are) and have “success” without really having it together. The sense of “OMG, how do I MAKE them see what I want them to see?” is pervading the responses, at least in my observation.

              Others are making really valid points about why it might not be the right time for you to move – and a lot of those may not have a single thing to do with you, your abilities, your general performance, or even the knowledge that you’d like to move closer to home. You’re not the only moving part here, and recognizing that, accepting it, and reframing your thought process will help you in moving past this and not letting it affect your reputation at work.

              And if you really are set on eventually moving to this location, just talk to your boss about what that location needs, where you might be lacking in being prepared for that, and what you could do (if anything) to get you there.

              They don’t have to say yes. That’s their prerogative, unless you have an actual legal contract with them that says otherwise. By the same token, you don’t have to keep working there either. If you really feel you’re being treated unfairly, you can find another job.

              But, please allow my years of thinking otherwise provide a caution/warning to someone else – work is not fair. Working the hardest does not always get you what you think it might. Working smarter doesn’t either. Nor does putting in face time, or any of the things you might be tempted to think will “guarantee” you a better situation. When in doubt- ask. But ask calmly, politely, and without aggression.

              Once you toss out “legal” – it’s there. No take backs. And it can erect a wall like you would not believe, even if you DO get your way. And if you’re really a high performer, do you want to go to the new place knowing you got it because you threatened, or because your company felt like you were the best person for the job?

              (And, small sidebar – if the company is willing to change their plans for other people based on your potential litigiousness, doesn’t that plant the tiniest seed of doubt in the workplace? Because if it ever got around that they would cave if you started talking lawyers, what would stop others from doing the same, and how might that affect you down the line if someone has a “badder” lawyer than yours?)

        2. Anonymous*

          Agreed – OP (“Me”), if you’re as good as you say you are, you should be able to come up with those things on your own…

      4. Max*

        If they gave you a lateral transfer to the other location, then they would still have an empty executive director position to fill. The company as a whole would gain nothing – and it’d probably cost them a bit of money since they would need to start the search for an executive director all over again in a completely different location, so the company would end up going through the hiring process twice instead of just once.

        I’m not saying they won’t do the transfer, since there are benefits to keeping good employees happy, but you need to get out of the mindset that you’d be doing the company as a whole a huge favor by transferring – the only person who really gets anything out of that is you. The division you’d be transferring to would appreciate having you, I’m sure, but the division you’d be transferring from wouldn’t be happy about losing the extremely successful choice they took a gamble on three years ago.

  8. Anonymous*

    Perhaps the OP should think in these terms: he or she wishes to move back to their hometown. They are willing to stay with their current employer.

    Given this: apply for the internal position, but look for positions with other companies too. Take the first opportunity which meets your criteria. And don’t bother telling your current company about your search – it’s none of their business.

  9. Not So NewReader*

    Does your company allow people to work in their home turf?
    Some companies like to move people around and move them around….

    Is it to your company’s advantage to put you back home? If yes, be prepared to list/describe the reasons.

    What I do not understand is why the urgency. Is this the last chance you will ever have to go back home while employed with this company? (Not being snarky- you sound like you have a pressure cooker going on and I am not seeing why.)

    Lastly, if you make a big deal out of going back home will this cause the company to think that you are at your final resting spot, never to be promoted again?

    1. Josh S*

      I could be wrong, but it sounds like the Exec Dir position is pretty high. It might not be possible to be promoted up, especially if the next step is CEO of the organization or something (which the OP mentions was the person who had given verbal approval of a move back to the home location, leading me to believe she’s high enough to be in contact with, if not directly reporting to, the CEO).

      And it’s possible that the Exec Dir position doesn’t turn over very often. So if OP doesn’t get the transfer this time, it may be another 3-5 years (or longer!) til the opportunity arises again. So yeah, I can understand the pressure for wanting to move back ‘home’ with this uncommon opportunity.

      1. Kelly O*

        You’re making a fairly substantial assumption about the rarity of the opening, and what an “executive director” entails at this company.

        Yes, it’s possible, but it’s equally possible that after a couple of years of experience, you get “executive director” on your business cards. Having worked at a bank and seen more Vice Presidents and Assistant Vice Presidents than you can shake a stick at, I suppose I look at the title situation differently.

        As far as the relationship with the CEO goes, it’s also making a substantial assumption that this person has contact with that position. Many of us see the CEO frequently, and have daily contact with that person without directly reporting to them, much less having a closer, more personal contact. It all depends on your company.

  10. Karyn*

    Regarding threatening legal action – I’m going to liken this to Alison’s oft-repeated advice about threatening to leave your job in order to get a raise/promotion. You might get what you want, but you’re going to burn bridges along the way – and do you really want to work for a company you have to threaten to get something from?

  11. pidgeonpenelope*

    I’m most definitely not at executive level and there is no way that I would remotely think about suing my employer because they didn’t give me what I want. I know better. Aside from the fact that this is simply morally wrong, this is career suicide. Suing the hand that feeds you should be reserved for gross violations of laws. You’re going to burn bridges you didn’t even know you had because word will travel. In other words, bad idea. Don’t do it.

  12. Rana*

    One thing that’s striking me about the original post, and Me’s comments subsequent to it in this thread, is that they are, well, all about Me and there’s not much of an attempt to see the employer’s side of this.

    Given that any successful attempt to change things to the situation you want, Me, you need to think a lot harder about what your company gets out of the deal, rather than what you get. I know it’s easiest to focus on your own wishes and concerns – a position in a location you prefer, salary and other compensation in line with what you think you’re worth – but that only gets you halfway.

    What does the company gain from doing what you wish it would do? What does it lose? Is this the most efficient or effective way for them to achieve their goals? What might those goals be? Are your wishes in conflict with their strategies and long-term aims? How can you mitigate that? and so on.

    You want to go into this in the spirit of collaboration and compromise – because they would be doing you a far greater favor than vice versa – and not one of ultimatums and veiled threats. As it is, if your only argument to bring to the table is “I want this” and “I deserve this,” with no other incentives or consideration for their concerns, you’re not going to get very far.

    1. Jamie*

      Great points. I would actually do a CBA on this, if it were me, to analyse the upsides and down so I’d be prepared to address both sides.

  13. AB*

    Rana, that was what I was trying to alude too as well in my first reply to “Me” — that the company will not be making a decision based on the OP’s needs, but rather based on the organization’s needs.

    Now that I’m using a normal keyboard instead of a tablet, it should be easier to express my thoughts:


    You are looking at the problem from your perspective: “I did a good job, I deserve to get this position”.

    That’s now how your employer thinks (or is supposed to think, for this matter). Your company looks at it from a business perspective: “we have this position to fill, let’s go ahead and fill it out”). It’s on you to convince them that it is in their best interest to transfer you instead, so you can go back to the city you came from and had the expectation of returning to.

    You may have seen a previous post here at AAM in which a manager was asking for ways to help keep an employee in town by finding a job for her husband. See — if you are as good as you claim to be, it should be easy to get your employer to agree with you going back to your city, because they will most definitely not want to lose you, and thus will have a good “business reason” to transfer you and fill your current position instead.

    This has nothing to do with deserving or not to get what you want. Businesses don’t exist to please their employees, not even the top performing ones, but rather to fulfill their mission. If they see that it helps their mission to retain you by giving you the transfer, than you will get what you want.

  14. Katie the Fed*

    I wish I knew where people came up with this idea that you’re somehow legally protected to be treated fairly in the workplace. You’re not. Your boss can be the biggest jerk he wants, they can play favorites and transfer and promote the worst qualified people, and it’s all legal. It’s only illegal if it was done because you’re a member of a protected class, ad good luck proving that.

    Life isn’t fair, kids.

    1. nyxalinth*

      I think it’s all a matter of “Please tell me that this is illegal so I can get my way when I want it to happen/make people stop annoying me/make my boss stop being a jerk” because they feel helpless and trapped and it’s the only thing they can think of to do.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        That makes sense. I know I got passed over for a job that I was uberqualified for once, the job I had wanted for years and years, for someone who was way less qualified and I was DEVASTATED. I spent the weekend sobbing and eating Chinese food and entertaining thoughts like “I’m going to sue everyone!” but then reality set in and I remembered that sometimes life and work just suck and they’re not fair and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

        1. Josh S*

          “I spent the weekend sobbing and eating Chinese food and entertaining thoughts like “I’m going to sue everyone!” but then reality set in and I remembered that sometimes life and work just suck and they’re not fair and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

          This is probably the exact strategy that anyone who feels crapped-upon by their employer should take to get over it. Well done Katie.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Thank you :)

            I was actually bitter and upset for a little longer than that. Actually it STILL hurts a bit to think about it. But actually it made me rethink a lot of things, and I decided to pursue management because I wanted what happened to me to never happen to anyone else if I could help it. And that’s how I find myself as a baby manager now, wondering what the hell I got myself into.

  15. Canuck*

    After re-reading the letter and responses by “Me”, I’m starting to believe this is a) not a real person; or b) someone who is a lot more junior than they are claiming.

    No Executive Director I have ever met, even the most incompetent one, would be asking for a “template” to take to a job interview on how to sell their skills. The OP/”Me” has managed to get to the ED level, perform well (apparently), yet they don’t know how to show they are a good fit for a job that they currently hold?

    1. Kelly O*

      Or, we’re not seeing the bigger picture of what being an “executive director” means at this organization.

      I’ve seen people in sales and marketing with “executive director” after their names, but in truth they’ve just been with the company X number of years, or manage Y dollars and that comes with the territory.

      So I’m not assuming troll or false letters, but just thinking that perhaps the position is not as senior as we’re assuming.

  16. Anonymoux*

    While we are on the topic, can legal action be taken if a transfer is finalized, the spouse moves the household and kids and the person arrives at the new job site to hear: “we have never heard of you”? Find out nobody was notified of the transfer at the other end, YOUR copies of the contract are unacceptable, and the transferring office misplaced your papers? By the way it will take 6 to 8 weeks for an investgation before you can even restart your job, but 6 months go by and no dice… it’s an election year after all, and now… oops! It’s too late, you will just have to reapply for your old job if it it ever opens again because “we have run out of time”.

    There are some who think we don’t have a leg to stand on (it’s too late anyway methinks), but that is okay, we had some justice: a co-worker who happens to be the wife of a Navy Captain was granted a promotion and transfer to her husband’s duty station after waiting 9 months, but was told by the local HR (same lady who lost my spouse’s file) “we don’t DO transfers” and then did not (refused to) produce the paperwork…

    I would have sold my soul to have been a fly on the wall the day that woman had to explain to her boss, the office manager, regional HR rep, and the director of West Coast Operations (whose office approved the promotion) why three months had gone by with no investigation as to the wherabouts of the “missing” files. Knowing her, I bet she was dumb enough to share the “company policy on transfers” with them too.

    All told, the resulting carnage was glorious.

    Don’t know if the OP’s situation is dire, but I worry they must be getting a little desperate to even think about legal action, and maybe didn’t explain it right? As it stands, applying the muscle will likely have the opposite of the desired effect so hang tight OP, you need to see where this is going a little more clearly before acting.

    1. Jamie*

      I would think that if you were acting in good faith based on a valid written contract you’d be able to sue civilly. I couldn’t tell, you are talking about a civilian company? Because suing the US Navy is a much bigger deal.

      IANAL of course.

    2. Josh S*

      The difference in your situation, Anonymoux, is that you have a signed contract that you agreed on to your detriment. You appear to have a decent case against whichever person signed that contract (and their company) for the damages you incurred based on moving your spouse/family, lost wages, etc etc. Obviously, you should see a lawyer to figure out more, including whether the claim against the crappy ex-employer would give you more money than the cost of mounting a legal challenge–there’s no sense spending $100k in legal fees to get $50k in damages back…

      (I am not a lawyer, I am certainly not YOUR lawyer, this should not be considered legal advice, and you should assume that everything I know about the law I learned from TV.)

      OP/”Me”: The difference in your situation is that you A) haven’t reached an agreement (there’s no contract in feeling that you ‘deserve’ the transfer), B) you haven’t taken any action based on that non-existent agreement, and C) there are no monetary damages.

  17. Josh S*

    “Me”: I feel for you. It can suck to put aside your preferred lifestyle/location/friends&family for the sake of your career. To top it off, you see the opportunity to get all that back with a purely lateral transfer to a position in which you’ve already proven yourself, and you don’t understand why it’s not a ‘Sure Thing’.

    From the company’s perspective, they don’t have an added incentive to move you ‘back’ to your preferred area. You’ve already agreed to work in Location B, and you seem to be successful there. Why upset a good thing?

    Here’s what you can do — make a stellar case for why you are the best option for your location-of-choice. (Note: none of this makes you “entitled” or “deserving” or a “shoo-in” for the transfer. But it WILL give you your best shot of earning that transfer.)

    Compile a list of your accomplishments in your time as Executive Director in Location B. Be specific, and, if you can, list “problem/situation, approach, result” for each so that you’re demonstrating exactly how what you did impacted the results. This could be fundraising/donor relations, operations, new programs, employee issues, events, whatever you can think of. Hopefully you have a lot of positive results and achievements!

    Next, focus on what you know/believe to be the main issues the Exec Dir would face at Location A. Propose strategies for fixing those issues, and the anticipated results. (Make sure that the ‘anticipated results’ portion lines up with what you understand to be the strategic direction of the company as a whole! Demonstrate that you understand and support that direction!) Better yet–be proactive: Think of an initiative or program (or whatever)
    or two that are not being done currently that would help improve that location’s results.

    Finally, talk to someone. Since you’ve been working there, you presumably have relationships with the people who will be hiring for that position. Tell them that you’re very interested in the position. (But do NOT tell them that you think you deserve it or feel entitled to it. And do not even HINT at the fact that you thought of legal action over it. Those will be dealbreakers for your candidacy.) If they allow the opportunity for you to share WHY you’re interested in the position, tell them about your achievements, and your thoughts/plans for Location A. Frame everything in terms of the advantages to them of having you in Location A–because while it’s important to you to be back there, they really don’t care too much. (The only exception being if they ask about your willingness to move back there, you can say that you’d actually ‘prefer’ to live in Location A…but don’t introduce the topic yourself.

    That’s the best help I can give. No template, no single document, no ‘magic phrase’ exists that can ‘guarantee’ you this job transfer. You simply have to position yourself as the best candidate based on your previous results and experience. You really do have an advantage–you know the company, you know the goals and strategic direction, you know the people, and you have demonstrated results doing this exact job. All of that should make you a top tier candidate. But none of it guarantees you the transfer–another person could come along and be better qualified (Don’t think so? What if Bill Gates said he wanted the job after running the Gates Foundation? I think he’d probably get it…), they could see your potential to add value to the organization to be higher in Location B, the new CEO might just not like you very much because of a funny-colored shirt you wore one day.

    All you can do is put your best foot forward, be intentional and strategic about telling them of your interest and your plans, and hope for the best.

    Good luck!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think this is all great advice, but for what it’s worth, I think it’s okay and probably useful to mention that the OP wants to move there. If they think he’s making the offer purely for the good of the company and they have other ideas, it’s easier to say no. If he’s a great employee AND they know he really wants to move back, they may factor that in because they care about retaining him in the long term.

      1. Josh S*

        True. I just wanted to emphasize that the OP should be framing things from the company’s point of view, rather than framing it around his ‘wants,’ in hopes of making things feel less ‘entitled’ (which, based on an extremely limited sample size, the OP may have a problem with).

        But you raise a good point.

        1. Anonymous*

          Certainly – and the OP should also frame their desire to move in similar terms. Assuming that it trumps their desire to stay with the company, it entirely reframes how they look at things: they can apply for any position in their hometown, and this simply happens to be one of them. Familiarity is definitely worth something (both to the company and employee), but it’s not everything. Go and test the market – and if a different organisation comes through with a suitable offer first, the OP should take it. The standard advice about not looking for counter-offers would apply.

          By all means tell the company that they’d be moving back to their hometown, but it should be a simple statement of fact – nothing that could be interpreted as a threat if they don’t get the position.

      2. Anonymous*

        Agreed. Since so many commenters on this thread (and me!) know how awful it is to be far from home/family, I bet your hiring managers will also be at least sympathetic to your desire to return home. You will get much further with expressing a desire to return home (honey) than with threats and/or entitlement (vinegar).

  18. Mike C.*

    It’s jerks like the OP that make it so people who actually need help from the legal system have a harder time using it.

    Thanks a bunch! :rolls eyes:

  19. Incredulous*

    Really? Part of me wonders if the OP is just messing with Alison. “I’m going to craft a really silly email and see if Alison will publish it.”

    Either the OP has risen to a position of executive director without much sense of how things actually work in the corporate world, or this is actually a set-up. Occam’s razor would imply the latter is much more likely.

    Reminds me of the stories I see on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Edition” segment entitled “Really?!?”

  20. Not So NewReader*

    You have some good posts here, Josh, and you’ve got me thinking and rereading what OP is saying.

    OP, I just realized that perhaps your real question is this:

    “My previous boss promised me that I could move back to my home area when the opportunity came up. Is it a legally actionable event if the new boss does not make good on the old boss’ promise? And does it matter that the person who made the promise was the CEO of the company?”

    If OP was lead to believe that she would just slide over to that position when it opened, I can begin to understand why she was surprised to have to go through the process of applying for it.

    Alison, if this is the case, do you have any additional thoughts to add? Are written promises the only legally binding promises a company has to keep?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      In my experience, often people hear what they want to in conversations like that. “You’ll have a good shot at this position next time around” becomes “We’re promising you this position.”

      And managers often tell employees what they want to hear instead of having difficult conversations.

      Basically, when people think they’ve been promised something, I’m skeptical.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I can be down right cynical at times- haha;) I understand what you are saying, KTF. I have seen some really cross-wired stuff happen.

        It’s true, “hearing impairment” or “thoughtless word choice” can infect any one no matter what their title. And there are two sides to every story.

        Yet another reason to get things in writing. A few years out no one will have any idea of what was said a few short years ago.

        I try to read these questions and answers with the idea of finding a take-away. On this one, my take-away is “If something is VERY important to me, then I need to get it in writing.” Not everything can be a battle- but the critical things need to be in writing to avoid confusion later.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree with Katie that people often hear what they want to in those conversations, but even if it was an objectively clear promise, those things are nearly never legally binding unless they’re put in writing. (Plus, most companies have policies all over their handbook that your employment agreement with the company can’t be changed unless it’s a written amendment, and only from specific people.)

      1. Anonymous*

        Plus, most companies have policies all over their handbook that your employment agreement with the company can’t be changed unless it’s a written amendment, and only from specific people

        This is something that people in general should remember when their manager offers to put somthing in writing – it is unlikely to have any real meaning.

        And to emphasize a point made above: even if you have a legal case, restitution is unlikely to include punative damages or costs. So winning could cost you money (plus the obvious damage to your standing with future employers for daring to attempt to enforce an agreement).

  21. Lisa*

    I’m getting a strong “title inflation” vibe from OP. I think OP’s title is Executive Director, but she’s doing a job more like Program Manager for the location where she works. I’m young, so I can’t hardly object to OP being young and inexperienced, but she sounds fairly new to the workplace and seems to have fallen prey to one of the threats lurking to bite talented young people in the ass, AKA “I got it younger than they did, therefore I’m better” syndrome. I get that way myself sometimes, where instead of being happy to have opportunities I assume I’m just way more talented than people who took 10+ years to get to the same place I reached in 5.

    OP–you probably ARE really talented. But that’s not the only thing you need to be. Apparently your organization hands out Executive Director titles for performance in certain tasks, without requiring much overall development as an employee and person first. Other workplaces aren’t going to be like that. If you want to be able to work elsewhere without taking a hit to your title in the future, you need to start preparing yourself for the expectations that will exist in other organizations. Start with the expectation that you think of your employer’s interests and understand that they come first for your employer. Don’t make arguments based on “I deserve it.” Make arguments based on “It’s best for the company.”

    1. nyxalinth*

      Also OP, sometimes it’s not the person with the most talent, skills, etc. that makes one best for the company. those things can be acquired. Sometimes, it comes down to attitude and having a positive outlook and a pleasant demeanor in addition to those things.

  22. Me again*

    Well, I cautiously raise my hand as the person who posted the original question. With that said, I’ve taken the whole weekend to read each post and truly take each reply for the value it has. But, it seems most fail to understand the sense of panic I am currently in.

    I’ve spend the last few years killing myself away from my family and friends to establish myself in this role. Then, when the local role is posted I’m treated coldly. Granted, I understand but I’m feeling like my value in the current location will hinder the move I want so badly for personal reasons.

    Initially, I thought I would have some legal standing if I exceed the requirements of the job while others do not. I guess I was wrong to think this, but had hoped it would be a nice way to say I should get some preference because of my past dedication and experience (maybe not).

    If some of you have suggestions or strategies I can employ to help me get home I would appreciate it. I should be interviewing very soon :0(

    1. The IT Manager*

      Well, if you are at the point where you are going to move home whether you have a job with them or not, you may as well tell them. (ie Don’t threaten them with legal action but threaten them with quiting.) But that’s drastic because if you don’t get home job, you have to be prepared to find another one at home ASAP because they know you’re on your way out and might take action before you do if its right for the company.

      Both are nuclear options but the quiting one has the advantage of being feasible. As everyone noted, you can’t actually sue because you think you’re the best candidate and didn’t get the job.

      1. Anonymous*

        Well, if you are at the point where you are going to move home whether you have a job with them or not, you may as well tell them. (ie Don’t threaten them with legal action but threaten them with quiting.) But that’s drastic because if you don’t get home job, you have to be prepared to find another one at home ASAP because they know you’re on your way out and might take action before you do if its right for the company.

        Why bother with the threat? Just find the other position (easier said than done, I grant), and politely hand in your notice. No need to even tell them why after the fact.

    2. Laura L*

      You might try applying for other jobs in other companies. Are there other positions in your field in the area?

    3. Anna D.*

      I think one of the possible issues here is this: you say you’ve been killing yourself away from friends and family (and believe me, I understand how that feels). But the thing is, that’s not really your employer’s fault. That was your own choice – yes, that’s where the job/promotion was, but in the end, you were the one who decided to take it. Since it was your decision, there’s really nothing you can hold over your employer or any grounds on which you can force them to do anything about it.

      Also, you say “when the local role is posted I’m treated coldly.” What exactly does that mean? What have you actually said to your bosses/the people who decide about transfers, and what have they actually said to you? You’ve made a lot of comments about being panicked and being afraid doing well where you are will hold you back – do you have any reason to believe that’s the case? You may well have such a reason – it’s just that without any evidence of any response on the part of your company, it makes it sound like you are borrowing trouble. Is it possible that your desire to move back home has you so anxious about this that you’re seeing objections where none exist? It’s just not clear to me that you’ve talked to your bosses about this rather than spent a lot of time worrying. (I mean, you may well have – it’s just not clear from what you’ve posted here.) Your bosses will know more about how/why they transfer/promote from within than anyone here will.

      1. Blanziflor*

        I think one of the possible issues here is this: you say you’ve been killing yourself away from friends and family (and believe me, I understand how that feels). But the thing is, that’s not really your employer’s fault. That was your own choice – yes, that’s where the job/promotion was, but in the end, you were the one who decided to take it. Since it was your decision, there’s really nothing you can hold over your employer or any grounds on which you can force them to do anything about it.

        This is an important thing to remember – as is the flip side: just because your manager worked to get you an extra promotion, that does not create any obligation on you to stay if you get a better offer elsewhere – putting in that effort was simply their choice. And any manager who behaves otherwise is obviously deeply unprofessional.

    4. Michelle*

      You seem to be under the impression that your employer has to treat you fairly. The sooner you come to understand that they don’t, the happier you will be.

      Your employer has to treat you legally, ethically and morally, but fairness is arbitrary.

      As far as the strategies you need to employ, you need to do exactly what Alison said: “Apply for the position and make your best case for why you’d excel there.” Use the normal strategies you would to apply for a job. Don’t tell them you’re the best candidate, show them you’re the best candidate by providing an awesome resume that showcases your results, and give an excellent interview. And if the position goes to someone else, handle it graciously.

      In all honesty, asking questions like this gives me the impression that you’re very young, very naive and new to the business world. If your company or industry offers a mentoring program, I highly highly highly suggest you take part in it and request a mentor. Company mentors are excellent resource for things like interviews and hiring, and can often answer more delicate questions with insider insight.

      Good luck!

    5. fposte*

      I think your panic is coloring your view of the situation, in fact. I’m with Anna in being unable to grasp what you mean by “treated coldly”–you’ve got an interview for the position, so you’re not being brushed off. Are you being treated like a candidate they don’t know rather than having your application welcomed with enthusiasm? That doesn’t mean anything. Even if somebody sighed and thought about the paperwork that means, that’s not a comment on you.

      As others note, I think you’re tending to hold your organization responsible for your plan of moving back to where you want to live, even though they never promised you that. Sure, it makes life a lot easier if you can move back with a job you know in hand, but if your goal is moving, then it’s not fair to require your job to do that for you.

      1. Mimi*


        If you’re referring to commenters as the ones “treating you coldly,” it might be us partly reacting to your initial inquiry regarding a “nice” way of advising your employer that you’ll sue if you don’t get this transfer.

        That said, if you’re that unhappy and desperate to move back home, then I’d suggest applying to other positions in that area, outside of your employer – not putting all your eggs in one basket and all that.

    6. moss*

      I really don’t think there’s any “nice way” of threatening to sue someone. Just as there is no nice way of chopping off one’s own nose.

    7. SJ*

      Before you were promoted and moved to this position, did you tell them you would eventually want to move back? Are they aware how important it is to you to move back?

      Other posters have mentioned that the employer has no real incentive to move you back to where you were, citing a new employee search for the location you’re in now, but IMO what’s ‘best for the company’ is having happy employees who feel like they’re valued – so in that regard, they have a great incentive to keep you happy, if they like your work – because they don’t want to lose you. If they seem ambivalent when you tell them how strongly you feel about this, you’ll have your answer about how valued you are. You could also say, after explaining that, ‘is there some reason I don’t know that it’s imperative I remain in this location and not be given that job, if I meet all the qualifications and you’re pleased with my work?’ hard to phrase that without sounding entitled…it’s just a question to try to figure out if there’s something besides you/that has nothing to do with you that would prohibit them from giving you that job.

    8. Lisa*

      The one and only effective strategy you can employ is a factual and dispassionate argument as to why it’s better for your employer to send you home than to leave you in your current position and promote someone else to the ED position in your home city. And I don’t mean “better for your employer” as in “you better do it or I quit” or “you better do it or I’ll sue,” I mean you figure out how and why they will operate more efficiently and profitably by making the choice you want them to make.

      Your job is not to “kill yourself away from family and friends.” That’s a consequence of your choice to take your job, and I sympathize–I may be making the same lonely decision soon to advance in my own career. Your job is to make your employer more efficient, effective, and profitable (or, for nonprofits, substitute “effective in acquiring funds” or something). They can and should care how you feel, but caring does not a business decision make–they may care very much how you feel, but be unwilling to make a less wise business decision just to cheer you up.

      So, make clear that what you want is their wisest business decision. Give numbers, if possible.

    9. Lils*

      Me, I sympathize when you say you’re “killing” yourself far from home, friends and family. You sound young, highly educated, driven, and maybe a little naively entitled. As Jamie suggested above, do a cost-benefit analysis over a broad job search for positions in your home area. Remember to give value to the aspects of living in your desired area that YOU value–not just career-related things. Living a lifestyle you prefer and being close to family could be more valuable than you initially realized when you first moved away. Allow yourself to consider local positions that are a title/pay decrease. A rocketing career does not necessarily equal happiness, especially at the expense of your values. If you are young and talented, as I suspect, your career progression will continue, albeit perhaps at a decelerated pace. It’s worth considering those extracurricular needs too.

  23. Lisa*

    Why not just quit when they don’t choose you or if you are told you didn’t make the cut? This way you can let them know that you don’t feel valued, and if they aren’t idiots they might consider you again.

  24. Joey*

    I think your best bet is to let them know you have to move and that if the transfer doesn’t work out you’ll be leaving at some point. If you are a high pefformer theyll realize its better to transfer you than have a 2nd vacancy. But don’t do it as a bluff.

  25. IT Puffnstuff*

    I have to admit, this came across to me as the OP threatening his or her employer, and feeling unjustifiably entitled. I agree with Ms. Green that no such entitlement (legal or moral) exists. Threatening to sue a company that has not actually damaged you is, frankly, a bullying tactic and not something any company should tolerate.

    1. IT Puffnstuff*

      PS – I just noticed this thread was from 2 months ago. Sorry to have brought it back from the grave. Please disregard my untimely reply.

  26. Anonymous*

    Hi my company is giving me transfer of odd location because i have 1.5 year baby i cant leave my home and family, During my maternity leave i had extended it because of the same reason after 10 months i resume services instead of 4 month(as per norms) + 2.5 months(i availed all my pending leave), at that time also they tried to transfer me to odd location bt on my request transfer was stopped now again same issue and now they are saying that its org decision and we cant do anything. before taking decision no one discussed with me or informed me.

    Now what i should do and what i can do. i have talk with upper level HR also he also denied to help. i am a female shd i go to women cell shd io go to labour court as they were really very harsh and rude to me many a times?

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