Should I Complain to my HR Department About Workplace Problems or Call an Employment Lawyer?

March 17, 2020

You’re having problems at work. No matter if it’s sexual harassment in the workplace, pregnancy discrimination, racial discrimination, or another form of harassment or discrimination, you do not have to laugh it off. You do not have to feel uncomfortable at work. In fact, employment laws protect you from harassment and discrimination.

One of the problems people face when it comes to employment laws is who to turn to for help. You could go to your HR department, but will they really respond in the manner you desire? You may be worried that they’ll dismiss your concerns in order to protect a CEO or other higher-up. How do you decide if you should approach the HR department or contact an employment lawyer?

When Do You Talk to HR?

You should be able to go to HR as your first choice. Make sure the complaint you have is covered by a rule in the employee handbook. Know what you want going in. If you’ve been fired unjustly and want your job back, HR should be able to handle it. If you want to sue for damages after being dragged out of your office by security and left with injuries, you should talk to a lawyer.

Make sure you know the employment law that applies to your situation. If your boss likes another co-worker better than you and often takes that co-worker to lunch, it’s a case of favoritism, but it’s not discrimination. If your boss learns you’re pregnant and gives another co-worker a promotion that you’re better qualified for, you could be the victim of discrimination.

As long as you understand the rules and policies regarding harassment and discrimination, you can complete and submit a complaint with your HR department. They must take it seriously. There are whistleblowing laws in place to protect you from retaliation from anyone within the company. If you do face retaliation, seek an attorney immediately.

If you’re asked to sign documents relating to your complaint, read them over. If you don’t understand them, you can ask for clarification or seek an attorney for guidance. Don’t sign paperwork in the HR department if it seems to require you to acknowledge some level of guilt or brushes off your complaint as resolved when it’s not resolved to your satisfaction.

When Do You Seek an Attorney Who Specializes in Employment Law?

One thing is true about any potential lawsuit. There are deadlines to adhere to. Employment law is no different. The EEOC requires people to file charges within 180 days of the violation. If the violation is also covered by local or state anti-discrimination laws, that 180-day deadline is extended to 300 days. If you think about that, that’s not even a year. It’s not a lot of time to wade through laws that may seem confusing. An experienced employment lawyer knows these deadlines.

Discrimination and harassment in the workplace also become challenging for people to understand. They may not know that sexual harassment can happen outside of the office or workplace to have a valid complaint. If you’re fired because you’re pregnant and can’t stand on your feet all day, you may think your boss had a valid concern with you being able to do your job effectively. The truth is that your boss is wrong. You have to be afforded the same considerations any disabled worker is offered. If you have the help of an employment lawyer, you have an expert who knows the laws and how they apply to your situation.

It’s hard to speak up for yourself. If you’re not the most assertive person, confronting people in your HR department may be uncomfortable. You may not have the courage to stand up for yourself, especially if HR seems to think it’s a non-issue. With an attorney advocating for your rights, you don’t have to become stressed trying to fight for yourself.

When you choose Shegerian Conniff to help you, we make several promises. One of the first promises is that you can reach our attorneys at any hour of the night or day. We’re always available to answer questions. If you hire us and we can take your case, you have a powerhouse firm that has taken on major corporations. We’re not afraid to litigate in a courtroom if that’s what it takes to win. We also do not charge you a penny until we win. We’ve helped our clients win millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. We can help you navigate your options. Call us for a free consultation.