Ask A Lawyer

Tell Us Your Case Information for Fastest Lawyer Match!

Please include all relevant details from your case including where, when, and who it involoves.
Case details that can effectively describe the legal situation while also staying concise generally receive the best responses from lawyers.

By submitting this lawyer request, I confirm I have read and agree to the Consent to Receive Email, Phone, Text Messages, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy. Information provided may not be privileged or confidential.

Employer Justification of Inconsistent Treatment of Employees

by Joseph C. Maya on Jun. 19, 2017

Employment Employment  Employment Discrimination 

Summary: A blog post about when an employer is justified in treating certain employees differently from past policies.

Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. today at (203) 221-3100 or

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), interprets and enforces Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination by employers against employees based upon race, color, gender, religion, sex, age, genetic information, or national origin.

In general, an employer is obligated under both Federal and State law to treat all employees equally, holding them accountable for their work, rewarding them when appropriate, and imposing disciplinary measures when necessary. Specifically, under Title VII and corresponding State law, and employer is prohibited from making employment decisions on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age, disability or genetic information (including family medical history).


In some instances, however, an employer may find themselves required to treat employees differently or deviate from their past behavior or employment policies. To assist in this situation, the EEOC has provided guidance to employers as to certain situations in which it may be allowable for an employer to deviate from their past treatment of employees.  Such instances, as outlined by the EEOC, are as follows:

  1. Deciding to hold an employee to stricter performance or conduct standards than imposed on other employees because the employee has a high-profile role that merits the stricter standards;
  2. Deciding to suspend one employee for failing to complete an order on time and issue warnings to other employees who failed to complete orders on time because the first employee has repeatedly missed deadlines and the other employees have never missed a deadline before;
  3. Deciding to postpone a promotion because an employer’s current financial situation does not allow the granting of a promotion in the originally anticipated time frame.


It is important to note that the EEOC provides a caveat in their explanation that: “in these situations, to prevent misunderstandings, it may be helpful to explain to the employee why you are treating [them] differently. If there are no circumstances that justify treating the employee differently, you may want to determine whether it is possible to accomplish your objective(s) in a manner more consistent with your past behavior or your employee policies.”

While these three circumstances certainly are not the only situations which may arise in which an employer may have to treat employees differently, the hope is that an employer can review these situations and extrapolate their reasoning to possibly fit their needs and refrain from discriminatory decisions.

If you are an employer and are faced with a situation in which you must treat one employee differently than other, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at We have the experience and knowledge you need at this critical juncture. We serve clients in both New York and Connecticut including New Canaan, Bridgeport, White Plains, and Darien.


Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See's full Terms of Use for more information.