‘Am I Being Treated Unfairly?’-Why You Need to Differentiate Between Unfairness and Illegality

‘Am I being treated unfairly?’

fairness at work


This is a question that I am asked regularly, and most of the time the questioner isn’t pleased with the answer I give them.

Let me explain.

Being treated unfairly and having your legal entitlements ignored or breached are two entirely separate things. Quite frankly, there is no law against treating you unfairly, provided that unfairness is not discriminatory or otherwise unlawful.

I know this, in itself, is unfair but, unfortunately, that’s life.

Redundancy after 35 years loyal service

Let me give you an example so you will understand: say you are being made redundant after 35 years’ loyal, professional, and dedicated service; and all you are are being offered is statutory redundancy or perhaps a bit better than statutory redundancy.

You will, understandably, be disappointed-perhaps even shattered at what you see is a complete disregarding of your track record, and the ‘unfairness’ of it all. You are perfectly entitled to view this as a travesty and certainly unfair, but it’s not unlawful.

Dismissal during the 1st 12 months of employment

Being dismissed at any time is a huge shock, but being dismissed during the 1st 12 months’ of employment can be especially devastating when you then discover that you do not have the protection of the unfair dismissal legislation; because of this your remedies for recourse are very limited, or nonexistent.

It may just happen that there is a personality difference between you and one of your new bosses, or you may not be just right for the company. The probation period, after all, is almost certainly in your contract to allow the employer see if you are right for him and to allow you see that you that you are happy in the workplace.

You may well be right in viewing this to be tremendously unfair, but even if it is, your options to take action, for example bringing an employment related claim, are very limited. In fact, you may have no right of redress because no law has been broken.

So, you need to ensure that you differentiate between what’s unfair and what’s justiciable-that is, something that is the basis for an employment or legal claim. If you don’t you run the risk of wasting money and time and causing yourself avoidable anguish and grief.