Different is good, right? Well, sometimes. In a Washington employment law context, different is not usually a good thing. Different is an adjective most often used to show how certain employees are being treated differently because of something he or she cannot change about themselves. What the term differential treatment is really getting at is the form Washington workplace discrimination is taking place.
Every job is unique, so it is sometimes hard to determine when differential treatment becomes illegal and discriminatory treatment.
Here are some Washington workplace scenarios and patterns that might amount to illegal workplace discrimination:
-Opening up certain position to a certain gender or race only
-Not promoting older employees because they may not stay around as long
-Having all members of a certain race or religion sit in the same section
-Only inviting couples that are man and woman to the holiday and company parties
-Demoting a pregnant woman from her current role upon her return to work
-Making certain tasks impossible for disabled employees
As you can see, differential treatment is something that is very specific to the company. That being said, there is usually a pattern (rather than a single instance) to differential treatment. There are a huge range of workplace scenarios that can take place that will ultimately affect an employee’s ability to reach his or her full professional potential. Not only should this not be the case, but differential treatment of protected classes is illegal.
If you feel like you have experienced unfair treatment at work, you should get In touch with a Washington employment attorney to discuss your legal options. On a similar thread, Washington employers should speak with an attorney to ensure that any policies they have in place do not run afoul of their legal obligation to treat employees equally. Employee or employer, an attorney can help get you the results you need.
Differential treatment is happening all the time in Washington workplaces and across America. Some instances are so subtle that they blur the line between discrimination and an antiquated (but legal) company policy.
To help you determine which side of the legal line your case falls on, take a step back and think about what and why the different treatment is taking place. Fear of retribution (usually in the form of termination or demotion) is enough to keep many Washington employees from speaking up about unfair treatment; but this should not be the case. You have legal rights and should work in a legal work environment. Your first recourse should be to ask for the rationale behind the different treatment. Not that the rationale is necessarily legal but getting an open, non-confrontational internal conversation started always helps. Sometimes this conversation is enough to spur necessary changes, and at the very least it puts your employer on alert.