A: It's time to find yourself a lawyer. The situation you describe has all the hallmarks of a stitch up. Even if your company had a plausible explanation for the job ads (and we can't think of one), the writing is still on the wall: new boss you don't get on with, being undermined in public, paths to more senior figures getting blocked and a "review" that isn't happening.
The technical term is constructive dismissal and yes, you can sue your employer for this, as long as you have been with them for at least a year. As our legal expert Makbool Javaid points out, "There is clearly a breakdown in trust and confidence, as they are trying to get someone to do your job whilst you are still in the role."
To sue for constructive dismissal, however, you have to resign first which is why we think it's important that you get yourself a lawyer. He or she can advise you more fully and hopefully negotiate a good exit deal before the matter ever goes near an employment tribunal.
This is by far the most desirable outcome all round. The chances of your staying in your job are somewhere between minimal and non-existent, from what you have described. What you want, therefore, is to leave with a good reference, a reasonable financial settlement and as little blood on the carpet as possible. This is achievable.
If you want to do something straight away (while looking for a lawyer) you could make some informal inquiries with the HR department about the job ads and set a deadline for a response. The next step would be to put your concerns in writing and raise them as a formal grievance, using the company's grievance procedure. Make notes of all your conversations and keep copies of all correspondence to do with this issue.
When hiring a lawyer, look for someone who specialises in representing individuals in employment cases. The Law Society's find a solicitor website is a good starting point, if you don't know where to go: www.lawsociety.org.uk/choosingandusing/findasolicitor.law
For further bedtime reading on the various forms of unfair dismissal go to:
Good Luck and do let us know how you get on.
Next week's question:
At a recent interview, the interviewers seemed more interested in gathering data about my desk than assessing my skills. I understand it's difficult to test my knowledge without me revealing proprietary secrets (i.e. types of quantitative models I know). Nevertheless, I made it clear when they asked about the P&L of my desk that this was confidential. My headhunter told me they probably did that to test my integrity. What do you think?
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