Does disciplinary action have to be consistently applied across different departments? For example: Can one supervisor give official verbal reprimands for a minor infraction while another supervisor does not give reprimands for the same infraction? (From California)

This is a grey area in California. It is OK to treat exempt and hourly employees differently. It is OK to treat employees in different jobs differently but when employees have the same job, treating them differently can open the door to discrimination charges.

The more similar the employees’ jobs/duties are the fewer defenses the employer will have against discrimination charges. When the business circumstances of the departments vary greatly, the different treatment may be justified. When different teams are working on very similar projects and conditions the company needs to avoid the appearance of illegal action.

Hope that helps you out. =)

A note about HR laws:
Laws concerning employee treatment, benefits, hiring and firing…etc are multi-level. What this means is that there are Federal laws, state laws and sometimes local regulations that have jurisdiction over an employee. The information presented here should not be considered legal advice. Ultimately, employers with serious legal questions should consult local attorneys with expertise in worker relations.
The questions and answers presented here are based on research and data from internet sources and should not be considered the final word.

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