In order to make out a cause of action against your employer, you must be able to show either (1) a connection between the failure to promote, and your race, color, nationality, religion, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age or disbiality; or, (2) that the employer has a written policy stating a particular process under which employees are promoted/demoted/disciplined, and that the employer has failed to follow its process with respect to you.
Cause #1 is the easier to win, because among other things, you have the benefit of a huge state and federal regulatory agency and a great deal of case law on your side -- and, you can receive prevailing party attorney's fees if you prevail.
Whereas, with cause #2, you must prove that the contract/policy exists and that the employer breached that contract by failing to promote, and no attorney's fees are permitted, unless your employment handbook/guide permits such fees (extremely rare for an employer to include an attorney's fee clause, because the employer generally has so much greater bargaining power and financial resources). Ultimately, most employees, even if they have a valid action against an employer under this legal theory, they cannot afford to pay an attorney to prosecute the case, because the attorney's fees are likely to overwhelm the value of any recovery -- unless the employee is very highly compensated, and the breach has continued for several years ($200,000 or more annual salary).
The above describes your rights. If you believe that you may have a cause of action, related to discrimination, then I urge you to contact an employment rights lawyer
to determine whether it will be better to allow the government to process your claim, or to take the matter to a court immediately. If you believe this is a straight breach of contract matter, then while you may want to discuss it with the same lawyer, I suspect that your better course of action may ultimately be to "dust off your resume," contact a good HR recruiter, and find an employer who will appreciate your talent. I have know a great deal of persons in hi-tech fields, who have been in your position, and/or who have been terminated as a result of their difficulties with their current employer. Almost every one of them has found a better job with another employer -- once they actively started seeking new employment.
It's an old saying but a true one: Everyon wants the package that's still wrapped -- or, as Monty Hall/Wayne Brady frequently offered/offers, "What's behind door #2." It's a failure of the human condition to recognize the value of what is right in front of us. But, employers repeat this mistake over and over, without end, when it comes to employees.
Just the way of the world, and there's no fighting it.
Hope this helps.
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