Favoritism at work is an age-old workplace plague that has given organizations issues for many years. It occurs when one person in power gives preferential treatment to some employees over others without any logical reasoning.
An example of logical reasoning would be to award a promotion to one sales representative who reached their quota over the others who missed the mark. This would not be a disputed decision, as you can clearly lay out the expectations of their role and show how only people who reach pre-determined metrics will be granted a raise.
However, there would be a concern for favoritism if the sales rep who reached their quota did not get a raise and, instead, a different rep was promoted who missed their quota but had a close relationship with the supervisor. This is when the situation can get suspicious and be flagged as an act of favoritism over merit.
Being able to identify and report any acts of favoritism in the workplace can have a huge influence on maintaining a positive corporate culture. When it goes unnoticed, or is purposefully allowed, it can create a toxic work environment that lowers employee morale and hurts organizational performance. Here are some ways to address the issue:
A: Any major company needs a variety of reputation management tactics in place to keep employees satisfied with their work while also attracting new talent to the organization. When word spreads that favoritism is prevalent in an organization, and it goes unaddressed, it can have a dramatic effect on the people of the organization. You could start to see a dip in new applications for roles, or people who have traditionally outperformed in their roles begin to care less and just move through the motions, as they no longer see a viable connection between their ability to outshine in the company and being recognized for their effort.
A: Favoritism that goes unchecked can create serious psychological burdens for those who are in the unfavored pool. It can lead to different symptoms that are similar to those seen in cases of workplace bullying. For example, an employee can feel a sense of constant stress and anxiety when they are trying to perform well but are still being overlooked for either large-scale promotions or even the daily “good work” comment from a supervisor. This dramatic reduction in satisfaction with their role can even spiral to a level of depression that can lead to burnout and eventually their decision to leave the company. This is not an effective talent management strategy and can cost the company time and money in the long run.
A: No law directly calls out favoritism by name, but that does not mean it is unaddressed by the law. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act offer protection from discrimination. These laws do not allow an employer to make personnel decisions based on protected characteristics such as someone’s race, national origin, or sexual orientation. When someone is favored in the workplace, it could be because the supervisor making those decisions is operating from their own biases and favoring someone who looks or acts like them. This is not appropriate and has the support of these laws to protect the employee.
A: Reporting the alleged incident with evidence is the most compelling way to start proving unfairness at work. This is the information that corporate leaders and attorneys will rely on to investigate the situation. They can investigate these documented accounts to see if they can find other areas within the business where this pattern exists. Drawing connections between these incidents can help make the case that favoritism was occurring. If there are any internal witnesses to the act of favoritism who agree with your accusation, you will want them to be vocal about their account of the situation as well. The more people who can speak to the same experience, the stronger the accusation will be.
If you are suspicious of favoritism at your workplace today, and would like to explore filing a complaint, connect with the employment law attorneys at The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III today. We have spent years uncovering these unfair practices and supporting those who have been wronged by their employers. Let us help restore your trust and faith in the workplace. Contact us today.