Must all employees receive the same disciplinary action for the same incident?

UPDATED: Dec 20, 2011

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Must all employees receive the same disciplinary action for the same incident?

A co-worker threw his drink on me and as a knee jerk reaction I slapped him. I was suspended and facing termination in a few days. The co-worker is not being disciplined, is this legal? The co-worker has a criminal history of violence toward women.

Asked on December 20, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, not all employees have to be treated equally. It is perfectly legal to give one employee more favorable treatment than another as long as such treatment does not violate company policy, a union agreement or employment contract. Also, if the differing treatment is the result of actionable discrimination. So for example, if you have been given less favorable treatment due to your status as a member in a legally protected class that would violate the law.

Note:  There can be no discrimination in employment based on such factors as: race, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, national origin.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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