Workplace discrimination and harassment often result in employees being fired or quitting to escape the hostile environment. If this happens to you, recovering damages is great, but it won’t help you pay your bills during the litigation process. Sometimes litigation is unavoidable, but early actions can help prevent problems before they start. Here’s my quick guide to helping you end discrimination and harassment before they cost you your job.
Step 1 – Take Notes
Start taking notes now. Write down details of what’s happened to you including dates, people involved, things said, etc. This will eventually come in extremely handy because employers usually start denying or “forgetting” things that happened once you complain about them.
Step 2 – Follow the Manual
Now, if you were given one, go find your employee manual. This is the document your employer gave you you were hired. If your employer knows what they’re doing, you’ll have one, and it will tell you what to do if you need to make a complaint. OK, here’s the important bit, FOLLOW THE PROCEDURE IN THE MANUAL. This step should clear everything up. If the problems continue, you should prepare yourself for things to get a little rougher.
Step 3 – Improvise
So what if you don’t have a manual? First, go to your supervisor and complain. If it’s coworkers that are the problem, your supervisor is in the best position to stop things from going further. If it’s your supervisor who’s the problem, you still might want to consider talking to him or her. Sometimes all it takes is someone saying “Hey, I don’t appreciate those comments” for things to change. If you don’t want to do that, try going to your supervisor’s boss. This can be risky, but if you don’t have other options, you should probably try it.
Step 4 – Talk to a Lawyer
So, if you’re still with me, the complaint procedure didn’t work, and things have probably gotten a little frosty at work. At this point you probably want to see an employment lawyer. Even if you complain to an agency or file a law suit, a letter from a lawyer can add power to your complaints. It lets your employer know that this isn’t going away and they can’t just ignore you.
If that doesn’t work, a personal injury lawyer can help you navigate complaint procedure in the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If that still doesn’t solve your problems, you may have to sue your employer, and you’ll definitely need a lawyer for that.