Can an employer only fire 1 employee for a violation if another employee had done the same thing with no repercussions?

My wife was fired for marking herself as in the office for a portion of a day, when she was not in for this portion. This timeframe was a total of 4 hours during a company party, during which nobody was working. She took the action after another employee informed her that she had done so, as due to an oversight neither of them were informed of the party. The manager knew that both employees took this action, however the other employee was not reprimanded. The difference is that my wife had an FMLA protected illness.

Asked on July 8, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Rhode Island


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an employer could choose to only discipline or terminate one employee for something which two employee's did--the law does not require employees to be fair. However, it is illegal to retaliate against an employee for having used FMLA leave to which she is legally entitled. If you and your wife believe she was fired in retaliation for having taken FMLA leave, she may have a legal claim against the employer, and should discuss the situation in greater detail with an employment law attorney to evaluate her rights and recourse. Good luck.

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