Can employers treat employees based on seniority and merit?

Can employers treat employees based on seniority and merit?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2022 | Discrimination, Employment Law - Employee

Employment disputes and complaints in Florida have become increasingly problematic for employers in recent years. While this is generally seen from the perspective of aggrieved employees who claim their rights were violated, it is important to remember that employers also have legal rights.

Since a business objective is to provide goods or services and earn a profit, the employer can make certain decisions toward that end. If that includes promoting one employee over another, terminating an unproductive employee or making management decisions for the good of the business, it is not automatically a legal violation. When employers are accused of wrongdoing, they should understand the law for employment practices and what they can and cannot do.

Employers can still adhere to seniority and compensating employees based on quality

It is not a form of workplace discrimination to adhere to a seniority system or to judge an employee based on their productivity and the quality of their work. If a promotion was made because one worker has been on the job longer, it does not mean that the decision was made based on race, gender, age, national origin or any other aspect that would be labeled as discriminatory.

The same is true for the quality or quantity of production. Some workers are more efficient than others. They do better work that warrants them being given a raise or a higher position in the company. That is not a form of discrimination if the employer is using a bona fide and objective method to make its decisions.

The key is that the criteria for the decision were not put in place to violate the law. If, for example, a person was deprived of a promotion because they were not born in the United States and for no other reason, this would be a form of discrimination. The intention of the employer’s system of deciding which employees to reward must be based on whether they have seniority and that is the method used to grant the promotion or if they are simply more productive with the same opportunities.

Employers accused of legal violations can use their system as a defense

While there are many valid reasons for claims of discrimination or mistreatment on the job, it is not always true that the employer was breaking the law in its treatment of employees. In many instances, the employer had a system in place and was simply following it to maximize its profit and achieve success. When these accusations are made, it is imperative to be protected by professionals who understand employment law from the viewpoint of both the employer and the employee. This can help to avoid the negative implications of a discrimination claim.