All employees in America have the right to do their job in a safe environment, free from unfair treatment at work. Unfortunately, not all employers live up to this expectation. Instead of providing equal treatment in the workplace, employers often disrespect and discriminate against their employees. At times, they overlook qualified employees for promotions, and even, engage in sexual or workplace harassment.
It’s important to understand that these actions are unacceptable, and possibly illegal. If you experience harassment or discrimination in the workplace, then you may have a claim for damages under law.
Let’s take a closer look.
How do you tell if you are being treated unfairly at work?
The scope and scale of unfair workplace treatment is vast. Any behavior that seems questionable, disturbing, or that makes you feel uncomfortable should result in an investigation.
Mistreatment, even by a colleague, is a common occurrence and a demoralizing experience. Thousands of employees everyday, face harassment, discrimination, and other illegal job-related actions across the United States. You don’t have to stay a victim. Take steps to report the issue and secure your rights under the law.
Examples of Being Treated Unfairly at Work
Unfair treatment at any place of employment can express itself in many different ways, from wage discrimination to gender inequality, favoritism, violence, workplace bullying, and verbal abuse. Signs of mistreatment are:
- Discrimination due to race, gender, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic
- Spreading false rumors
- Pay disparities despite equal qualifications and experience
- Refusing reasonable accommodations for disabled employees
- Any instances of sexual harassment
- Punishing those who take parental leave by docking pay or terminating employment
- Laying off older workers to hire new, younger employees at lower pay
- Facing employer retaliation after resignation or reporting unfair treatment
- Being wrongfully terminated without reason
- Forced to work in unsafe conditions
What do you do if you are mistreated at work?
Many workplaces have a formal complaint system for these issues. To ensure that documented evidence exists of a formal complaint, it is important to report any problematic actions that happen on the job. Usually, this step of reporting unacceptable or unprofessional behavior happens with your manager or Human Resources.
That being said, we encourage you to get in touch with a qualified attorney as soon as possible, even better if you do it before submitting the complaint. A labor and employment attorney can help you submit a well-documented report. Should the situation evolve into a lawsuit, you will then have a stronger case.
Document the Event
- If you received mistreatment, the first step is: document the event as thoroughly as possible. Record the date, time, details, and names of everyone involved. Do the same for subsequent cases, if and when they occur. Document the information during or directly after the event so the details are as accurate as possible.
- Next, save copies of memos or emails that exhibit illegal or unfair practices.
- To support your claim, the last step is: ask witnesses to record their observations of what happened to support your claim.
All additional evidence you gather can help your eventual legal case. It is not uncommon to file a lawsuit against an employer, so don’t be nervous. This is your right.
File a Complaint with Human Resources (HR)
Report instances of unfair treatment to the Human Resources Department (or another authority figure in management). The formal letter of complaint should describe the event completely, but concisely. Stay on target and include only information relevant to the event. Alerting HR to the problem is usually a required step if you plan to later file a lawsuit.
How to Write a Formal Complaint Letter
In the formal complaint letter, you may:
- Identify helpful actions that can lead to a resolution.
- Refrain from making threats or getting angry.
- Keep a calm demeanor and offer reasonable solutions where appropriate.
If the complaint ends up becoming a legal matter, any poor behavior on your part could be used against you. As such, it’s important to consult an experienced attorney for guidance before you file a complaint.
File an EEOC Complaint
An employee that has been subject to any type of job discrimination or mistreatment may also file an EEOC complaint. The EEOC, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accepts complaints filed in person or by mail with the nearest office. In addition to victims, witnesses of unfair treatment can also file a formal complaint.
Include the following information in your documentation:
- Personal details of the person mistreated. Include their full name, number, and address.
- Name and contact information for the employer the complaint is against.
- Description of the unfair events and the dates they happened.
To prevent the situation from escalating further, speak up. If you feel like your complaint is not being addressed, or that you can’t speak with management at your work, talk with an employment attorney for legal advice on how to proceed.
How to Sue a Company for Unfair Treatment
Not all situations that are “unfair” are actually illegal. So, it is important to know what is employee mistreatment is within Employment Law and At Will Employment.
For example, you were passed over for a promotion or assigned to a different shift. These events are frustrating, but they do not necessarily qualify as discrimination.
At Will Employment States
Not all states are at will employment states. For those that are, employers can fire employees without notice or reason. Some exceptions apply, like if an employer violates an employment contract or state or federal employment statute.
Regardless if the state is California, Texas, or another state, there’s some behavior that employers cannot express. One example of this is: discrimination based on protected characteristics. Your state may include additional protections beyond federally mandated requirements, so it is important to know the laws in your state. To learn your states’ labor laws, read compliance guidelines and ask the appropriate authorities questions.
Contact Our Experienced Labor Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you’ve faced unfair treatment in the workplace, you should seek the counsel of an experienced employment and labor attorney to discuss your concerns. A lawyer will be able to help you decide whether you should file a lawsuit and assess the likelihood of success.
Experienced attorneys also have the knowledge and expertise necessary to advise you on the best course of action. They can guide you through the litigation process, help collect necessary documentation, and improve your chances of winning the lawsuit.
Know your rights and don’t settle for being mistreated.
Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 for a free and confidential consultation with an attorney in our network. We’ll connect you in just 10 minutes or less.