Can you be fired for something that your co-workers were not fired for but were guilty of as well?

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Can you be fired for something that your co-workers were not fired for but were guilty of as well?

At my old job, we had access to full internet that we weren’t supposed to have but my old manager set us up on it and several other managers knew about it as well. I recently got fired for being accused of using company assets to daytrade and cruise the internet. I did take occasional trades from my own account and used our full internet to access sites that would normally be blocked, nothing bad though. The other guys in the department didn’t get fired although they did all the same things minus take any trades. Do I have a case here at all or did they just get lucky?

Asked on August 24, 2011 Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately from the facts presented you do not seem to have a claim for wrongful termination. While seemingly unfair, your termination did not violate any laws. Generally employees do not have to be treated equally or even fairly. It is perfectly permissible to give one employee more favorable  or different treatment than another as long as such treatment does not violate company policy or a union/employment contract. And obviously, differing treatment must not be the result of actionable discrimination. So for example, if you were given less favorable treatment due to your status in a legally protected class, that would be against the law.

Note:  A protected class would be one based on inclusion due to factors such as: race, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, etc.


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