Favoritism in the Workplace


Favoritism happens when an employer or supervisor promotes an employee or provides them with an advantage based on friendship or another relationship rather than due to merits or other legitimate reasons. Whatever the cause, favoritism is viewed as a bad management practice that can destroy employee morale and breed resentment. However, is favoritism in the workplace illegal?

Favoritism is not necessarily considered illegal on its face and whether the practice actually is legal or not will typically depend on why an employee is being disfavored or favored. If favoritism is rooted in harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, it can potentially cross the line from a poor management practice to illegal behavior.

Favoritism as Harassment

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, favoritism might be considered sexual harassment if a promotion or some other employment decision is based on succumbing to an employer’s sexual advances.

Favoritism and Illegal Discrimination

Favoritism can also occur as illegal discrimination. It can be considered a discriminatory practice if an employer makes employment decisions based on an employee’s race, sex, gender, disability, or religion. So, favoritism can be viewed as discrimination if a supervisor or employer refuses to promote women or terminates employees that have a disability.

Retaliation and Favoritism

An employer may be engaging in retaliation if they punish an employee who has complained of illegal behavior such as harassment or discrimination. If an employer disfavors an employee by assigning less than ideal shifts or cutting back hours in response to a complaint, the behavior could be considered illegal retaliation.

If you believe that you are the victim of favoritism, whether illegal or not, consider consulting with an experienced Federal Employment Law Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Call the Vaughn Law Firm today at (877) 615-9495 and schedule your free consultation.