What is workplace discrimination?

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What is workplace discrimination?

Myself and a co-worker were fired on the same day for the same reason. She is 8 months pregnant; I am not. She was offered a severance package which includes an extension of her health insurance but I wasn’t offered anything. Under the law, is this considered discrimination? Would I be able to ask for the cost of the insurance that she was offered and punitive damages?

Asked on October 20, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Employers CAN treat employees differently, except for a few specific reasons. So, for example, if you did different jobs;  if she'd been there longer; even if they simply liked your coworker better; they could offer her severance and you not.

Employers may not discriminate against someone the basis of certain protected categories. If you think you were treated worse because of you sex, your age (only if over 40), your race or religion, or your disability status, etc., you may have an employment discrimination complaint and you should consult with an employment attorney who can evaluate the situation for you. Note that it must be because of a specifically protected category--again, it is perfectly legal to treat employees differently other than on account of specifically protected categories.


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