Is it discrimination if 2 employees are treated differently?

I was terminated from a waitress job because I got into an argument with the boss. The cook had an argument 2 days ago and was sent home for 24 hours for him to decide if he still wanted to work there. Is this not discrimination?

Asked on July 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Based on the facts that you have presented, you do not have a case for wrongful termination. Absent an employment contract or union agreement to the contrary, employees do not have to be treated equally or even fairly. It is perfectly permissible to give one employee more favorable treatment than another as long as the treatment does not constitute some form of legally actionable discrimination (i.e. were you given less favorable treatment due to your status in a legally protected class such as that based on your race, religion, nationality, disability, age (over 40), etc.). That would be against the law. The fact is that an "at will" employer can set the terms and conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit.

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