Can you refuse a promotion?

I’m going to be offered a promotion with much more responsibility and very little pay increase-I don’t want it. Can I legally refuse without fear of being fired?

Legally? The law has nothing to do with it. In most states, there are very few reasons to prevent your employer for firing you for what ever reason he wants. No doubt he can find one that allows him to do so without consequence.

Here is some interesting information:

Employment At Will

Unless your are fired for a physical disability (protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act) or you are a whistle-blower in a federally protected position, you can basically be fired for any reason, or no reason at all.

Refusing a promotion would be ample cause for dismissal, IMHO. It sucks, though.

If you’re in a union, you may have some protection. Otherwise you’re probably out of luck.

Do you distrust your management so much that you genuinely feel thry will fire you if you even protest? I don’t think you should be afraid to attempt a refusal. Keep in mind though, that you may be marked as someone who will never again be offered a promotion of any kind.

It seems to me that if they value you enough to offer you a promotion, they would be rather foolish to fire you if you refuse.

I don’t know of any legal reason they would not be able to fire you, though.

And as Boyo Jim said, they may not want to offer you any more promotions.

How about something like:
[politely] I really feel that all of the additional responsibilities and requirements of this position, like… (cite examples)… make me feel that I would be shortchanging the abilities you see in me to accept less than $X amount.

Might help to poke around the net for average rates of pay in your area for that type of job.

Many consulting firms, I-banks and law firms have an “up or out” policy where you are “counselled out” once it id decided you are no longer going to advance any higher in the company.

It seems foolish to refuse a promotion anyhow. You can always quit AFTER you get promoted and you’ll have the promotion on your resume.

If the promotion gives you duties and responsibilities far removed from what you are comfortable with, you should refuse.

My brother is a hand’s on electronic technician. He has often been “sabotaged” by being promoted to management positions in which he is saddled with more paperwork and “employee relations” than he’s comfortable with. He is much happier in a hand’s on environment.

What some companies do, if you are unwilling to accept more responsibility, is to cap your salary (except for cost-of-living increases) so that you don’t end up earning too much more than others in your position in later years. If you are qualified for a position similar to yours at a higher salary level in another department and would like to be considered for that instead, you can try that route.

As others have said, if you refuse a promotion, or even indicate that you are not happy about a proposed promotion, your name will be on the blacklist for ever more. I know from personal experience. Even if it’s not the job you want, be enthusiastic about it, if you expect to advance in the company. OTOH, if you’re content at what you’re doing and want to do that the rest of your working life, refuse it.

Better yet, quit your job and find one where people with extra responsibility are paid more.