Can employees legally be treated differently?

Other members of the staff where I work were randomly drug tested. Many came up positive for marijuana but none got fired. I was tested recently, came up positive for marijuana and was fired while no one else was. Is it legal for them to fire me for being positive while no one else was?

Asked on June 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, employees do not have to be treated equally or even fairly. It is legal permissable to give one employee more favorable treatment than another as long as the treatment does not violate company policy, an employment contract, or union agreement. Additionally, such differing treatment must not be the result of legally actionable discrimination. Consequently, if you were given less favorable treatment due to your status in a legally protected class, that would be against the law. However, you did not indicate such to be the case here.

Note: A protected class is one based on a person's inclusion in a group due to factors of race, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, etc.

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