Treating part-timers unequally is legal

Can They Do That?

Your Money

August 08, 2004|By Carrie Mason-Draffen

My company treats part-timers differently than full-timers, and I am wondering if the distinction is legal. For example, because July 4 fell on a Sunday this year, the company paid part-timers for the holiday. So we received six days of pay that week instead of the usual five. But the full-timers had the option of converting that holiday into an extra day of vacation later on. We part-timers who wanted the time think we are being illegally penalized.

The practice is legal as long as the employer spells out the policy and as long as the disparate treatment doesn't single out a group of people based on such things as race or sex. But even if the rationale makes sense, the distinction has the effect of demoralizing part-timers. When a policy has such a troubling side effect, it's time to rethink the policy.

Maybe a group of you part-timers can present a unified voice and argue - politely - why you should receive first-class treatment too.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at

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