EMPLOYEE WHO MADE SAME WORKPLACE ERROR AS OTHERS BUT PUNISHED MORE SEVERELY MAY HAVE A CLAIM OF EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION
QUESTION: I made a major error at work, and I was fired. One of my co-workers made the same error, but he was placed on probation. Apart from this one mistake, I never had any write-ups or any problems at work — but my co-worker did. My former boss at work is a woman, like me, but I think I’ve been discriminated against. Can I sue?
Employment discrimination exists when a worker is treated differently from other similarly situated workers based on impermissible consideration of a worker’s race, color, national origin, sex, religion or age. Discrimination is no less offensive – and no less actionable – when the employer and the employee belong to the same protected class.
Both Michigan and federal law (Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act) protect employees from adverse action in hiring, firing, and promotion, and in treatment at work.
In a lawsuit charging discrimination, the plaintiff must first show that he or she is a member of a protected class (race, sex, color, etc.), that he or she was subject to an adverse employment action, that he or she was qualified for the position and that similarly situated employees who were not members of the protected group were treated more favorably. The employer may then present evidence to show that the plaintiff and the co-worker(s) were not similarly situated, or that there was some other justification for treating the co-worker differently. The plaintiff can then present evidence to show the employer’s justification for the different treatment is pretextual – that is, that it doesn’t really hold water.
If you believe that you are the victim of sex discrimination, you may want to contact an experienced attorney.
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GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC is a Troy-based law firm representing clients from Warren, Sterling Heights, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Oak Park, Oakland and Wayne Counties and all of Southeast Michigan.
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By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
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Category: Featured Column