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Discrimination difference: Unfair not always illegal

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in HR Management,Human Resources

We’d all like to think we run a fair workplace. But people are imperfect, and supervisors sometimes aren’t fair.

It’s only when that unfairness harms members of a protected class that the practice is illegal. That’s an important concept to consider when employees complain to HR about a supervisor.

Recent case:
Mary Greene worked for the U.S. Postal Service and signed up for overtime. The post office had an agreement with the union that rotated overtime assignments by seniority.

Greene sued, claiming that the supervisor in charge of assigning overtime passed her over in favor of male friends. But the testimony showed that, while the supervisor did appear to give more overtime to several male friends, he passed over males and females equally, not just women. The court dismissed the case, concluding that unfair doesn’t always equal illegal. (Greene v. Potter, No. 08-1829, 7th Cir., 2009)

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