Sometimes, like life, supervisors are unfair. But unless there’s some other problem, being treated unfairly isn’t grounds for a lawsuit. Employees have to show that something illegal motivated the unfairness, such as racial or gender bias. Just saying that was the reason isn’t enough, either.
Recent case: Michelle, who is black, worked for a state agency for about eight years. She was never selected for a permanent position, but remained classified as a temporary employee.
When she was terminated during a layoff, she sued, alleging that her race was the reason she lost he job.
She listed many examples of how unfairly she had been treated during her tenure. For example, she claimed her boss resisted her attempts to streamline her workflow while allowing others to do so. She also said her supervisor “assassinated” her character and accused her of having others perform her work instead of doing it herself.
But the court dismissed Michelle’s case because she couldn’t connect the unfairness to her race. She never clarified whether other employees who allegedly were treated more favorable were not members of her protected classification, nor did she show other actions that might indicate bias. (McJunkin v. Suffolk County Civil Service, No. 13-CV-5045, ED NY, 2014)
Final note: In a perfect world, every supervisor would be fair to every subordinate. That’s not always going to happen. If there isn’t any apparent bias, don’t sweat unsubstantiated claims of unfairness. They are easily dismissed.
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