Can 2 employees receive different disciplinary actions for the same incident?

Another co-worker and I were talking about her boyfriend, who also was delivering us lunch. We were joking with each other about him being naked. Another employee overheard us talking and called the corporate office. I was terminated because I made a sexual comment about a delivery person in front of another employee. The other co-worker was written up but kept her job. I have been at the job 6 years with excellent evaluations and no write-ups. The co-worker has been there 2 years with at least 2 previous write-ups. Is there anything I can do about this?

Asked on March 5, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, there probably is nothing you can do. The law does not require employers to treat all employees the same or fairly, except as per below. So as a general matter, if two employees, A and B, do something, the employer could lawfully fire A while only writing up B.

The exception is that certain forms of discrimination are specifically prohibited. For example, if you were treated differently than your co-worker because of you sex, race, age over 40, religion, or disability, you may have a claim for illegal discrimination. If you think this might be the case, you should consult with an employment law attorney to explore your options.


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