When is favoritism in the workplace illegal?

It might seem childish — the idea that your manager or other supervisor might have favorite employees in the office. Aren’t we all supposed to grow out of such cliquishness once we graduate from junior high school?

In all reality, some of the social frustrations and hurdles that take over our lives as kids continue to tarnish our day-to-day realities as adults. While it might be disheartening that your boss has his or her favorites in the office, what is important is the ability to identify when disheartening escalates into illegal New York work practices.

What might surprise you is that it can be okay in some circumstances for an employer to favor a favorite worker. Maybe you feel like your boss discriminates between you and another worker because he or she likes you less. What you need to ask yourself is this: are you a protected class? Do you believe you are not given certain opportunities or otherwise treated unfairly because of your race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation? 

Employment laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of such protected criteria. If you simply don’t get along with your management, or even if the boss is dating another co-worker, unfair treatment is not necessarily illegal. Of course, you should always be paid for the hours, including overtime, that you work. 

These laws can be confusing; and yet they are so important in order to protect your best interests, career aspirations and rights as a worker. If you have any worries about your treatment at the workplace, an employee rights lawyer in your state can provide you with invaluable guidance. 

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