Is It Legal to Write Up Other Employees but Fire Me for the Same Conduct?
The employee-employer relationship is a complex one that is governed by a myriad of state and federal laws in the United States. As an employee you are protected by a number of those laws from unfair and/or discriminatory conduct on the part of an employer. Figuring out whether an employer’s conduct is prohibited, however, can be difficult for an employee. If you were recently terminated by an employer, for example, you may be wondering “Is it legal to write up other employees but fire me for the same conduct?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “it depends.”
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, like most states, is an employment “at will” state. In essence, this means that for the most part an employer can fire you for any reason or for no reason. There are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, if you have an employment contact with the employer the terms of the contract prevail when it comes to when and why you may be terminated. The other important exception to the general employment “at will” doctrine is that an employer may not fire you for discriminatory reasons.
Both federal and state laws prohibit an employer from discriminating in any aspect of employment on the basis of certain protected traits or characteristics, including, but not limited to, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or age. This means you cannot be fired, for example, because you belong to a specific religion, have a disability, or are from a specific culture or country.
If your employer fired you and only gave other employees a warning for the same conduct the issue is whether the disparate treatment was based on a protected trait or not. For instance, if you were singled out for termination because you are of Middle Eastern decent, because you are female, or because you are 55 years old, you could have the basis of an employment discrimination lawsuit. On the other hand, if you were singled out because you work performance prior to the conduct in question was poor compared to the other employees, or for any other non-discriminatory reason, your employer’s conduct was perfectly legal.
If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, contact an experienced Conshohocken, Pennsylvania employment law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Terminations are extremely fact specific, making it important that you discuss the situation with an experienced attorney to determine if you have the basis for legal action against the employer. Contact the employment law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.