Nepotism happens. Although it may not necessarily be illegal, it can still cost employers. Fairness can be the antidote.
In a recent case between a current employee and his employer, the dispute appeared to be a fairly common consequence of hiring a new (outside) supervisor brought in to design and implement a company reorganization. Rifts are hard to avoid. Here, however, it may not have been so unavoidable.
Despite work that was very highly regarded for years, without issue, half of the employee’s self-designed responsibilities were summarily reassigned by a new supervisor to a new hire of his own who was relatively young (early 20’s) and his former co-worker. Let the issue-spotting begin.
Putting the technicalities of “nepotism” or “discrimination” aside, it’s possible to see the vulnerabilities for a complaint for differential treatment. The new hire’s generous assignment and attendant status, along with his sense of entitlement and peacocking in the office without impunity were fodder for a filing. Add to this the new supervisor’s adverse behavior toward the employee after the new hire was counselled by higher-ups, and the employee feels retaliation, as well. He ultimately filed a formal complaint.
The issue of legality quickly fell away in the mediation of this case. Consistent with his pre-filing stance, the employee referred to the words “fair” and “fairness” as all he was (ever) seeking. There was no discussion of monetary compensation. No request for retribution. He took complete responsibility for and asked for no help with managing his relationship with his new supervisor. He simply wanted to be able to rely on “fairness” from his employer as the standard to which all would be held.
The moral of the story is that unfairness very often involves a drain of resources by one means or another, so wisely remember fairness in defining employment standards, and police accordingly.
For more to consider on the impact of nepotism, cronyism and favoritism, read: