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DiscriminationOctober 14, 2019
Favouritism in the workplace is the fear of many employees. And there is no doubt that bad management allows favouritism to flourish.
All employees are entitled to, and expect to be, treated equally. Favouritism can cause employees to feel treated unfairly, and the subject of discrimination.
While it is not best practice, favouritism is not necessarily illegal. There is nothing unlawful about a manager favouring an employee or a group of employees.
Unless, of course, that favouritism is rooted in discrimination or goes against specific laws.
Favouritism is what it says on the tin – favouring someone or some group in the workplace for reasons outside of their job performance.
A well-known type of favouritism is nepotism. Nepotism means to show favour to family members or friends, and for obvious reasons is commonly found in family-run businesses.
Many successful businessmen’s children take up their parent’s roles in the family business. Sir James Fletcher, Harry Hart and the Whittaker family are examples of this.
Another example of favouritism is when an employee or group of employees is treated differently due to personal characteristics. Treating employees based on personal characteristics can be seen as discrimination.
The Employment Relations Act and the Human Rights Act provide all employees in New Zealand protection from discrimination. Personal characteristics protected from discrimination are:
Here are a few ways to manage favouritism, including how to prevent it. A workplace rife with favouritism fosters low morale, a bad culture and overlooking potential and good performers.
1) Is Favouritism in The Workplace Illegal?
Favouritism in the workplace isn’t outrightly illegal. However, if there is discriminatory favouritism then it can be unlawful.
Under the Employment Relations Act and the Human Rights Act, all employees in New Zealand are protected from being discriminated against due to personal characteristics. Some of these characteristics include race, religion, and sex, among others.
2) Is It Illegal to Treat Employees Differently?
It is not outrightly illegal to treat employees differently. For example, it is fine for a strongly performing employee to be offered a promotion over other employees.
However, it is illegal to treat employees differently if it is discriminatory. Discrimination means treating someone differently based on a personal characteristic, e.g. their race, religion or sexual orientation.
3) Is Favouritism A Form Of Harassment?
Whether or not favouritism is a form of harassment is a case-by-case basis. In some cases, while it is unwelcome, favouritism is not harassment.
In other cases, favouritism can be considered harassment if its discriminatory or vindictive in nature. For example, putting the spotlight on an employee for the wrong reasons can be considered harassing or bullying the employee.
4) How Can Favouritism Be Prevented In The Workplace?
5) How should employers treat employees?
6) How do you address an unfair treatment at work?
7) How Does Nepotism Affect The Workplace?
Nepotism can negatively affect the workplace in several ways. Primarily it sets a bad cultural precedent. Employees are either successful because they’re in the family or friends of the manager, or they’re not.
Nepotism also reduces morale in the office, as employees not part of the in-group will feel less valued. If an employee has received their role due to nepotism, it may foster feelings that the employee didn’t truly “earn” their position.
8) Is nepotism in the workplace illegal? – paragraph
Nepotism is not illegal in the workplace. In fact, many businesses are family-run businesses, and it is a business owner’s right to run their business in the best way they see fit. Depending on the industry, employees may have a duty to disclose family connections, for example to meet regulatory requirements such as anti-bribery and corruption laws.
9) Is preferential treatment in the workplace illegal? – paragraph
Preferential treatment overall is not illegal. However, it is illegal if the preferential treatment is discriminatory. That is, a worker is treated differently due to a personal characteristic, such as their race, sexual orientation or religion.
Preferential treatment such as nepotism or favouritism is also not illegal.
As one of New Zealand’s leading workplace relations specialists, Employsure can assist you if you are faced with issues of favouritism, nepotism or discrimination. Call us today on 0800 675 700.