How to Deal With an Unfair Workplace
Nick Ferraro | March 31, 2021 | Workplace Discrimination
A significant portion of our waking hours is spent at our workplaces. When we enter the workforce, we expect to be treated fairly. We expect that our diligence, ethics, and job performance will earn us promotions, raises, and other rewards.
Unfortunately, even the best employees may be treated unfairly at work. You may find that you are not afforded the same opportunities in the workplace as other employees. Your boss may have favorites who are promoted even though they are not qualified or their job performance is poor.
Is there anything you can do about an unfair workplace? Playing favorites may not be illegal. However, if you are being treated unfairly because of who you are, that may be illegal.
Playing Favorites vs. Unfair Treatment
Favoritism is a part of every work environment. Bosses have their favorite employees that they may treat differently. A friend or a family member may be given the better office or company vehicle. The boss’s favorite might be at the top of the list for company travel or business lunches.
Employees cannot be discriminated against based on protected characteristics. Federal anti-discrimination laws and state law defines protected characteristics.
According to California law, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee based on:
- Age (40 and over)
- Color and race
- Creed or religion
- Gender expression and gender identity
- National origin and ancestry
- Medical condition
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Physical or mental disability
- Genetic information
- Sex or gender
- Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and related medical conditions
- Veteran or military status
It is also illegal to engage in activities or behavior that creates a hostile work environment. For example, it would be illegal to spread rumors about an employee or create offensive social media posts about an employee.
What Should You Do About Unfair Treatment in the Workplace?
If you are the victim of unfair treatment at work, you should take steps to protect your legal rights. You have numerous rights as an employee in California.
Steps to take include:
Document the Unfair Treatment
Keep detailed notes of the treatment, even if you are unsure whether the unfair treatment constitutes workplace discrimination or harassment. Write down everything you remember, including dates, times, conversations, situations, and names of the people involved.
Make copies of all written documentation, including emails, memos, social media posts, texts, and voicemails. The more documentation you can gather related to the unfair treatment, the better your chance of holding the parties accountable for their wrongdoing.
File a Report with Human Resources
Each company should have a written policy for reporting complaints of unfair treatment, harassment, and discrimination. If your company does not have a policy for reporting complaints, request a Human Resources Director’s meeting.
Filing a formal report places the allegations of unfair treatment on the record. However, it can also give you status as a whistleblower, which may afford you additional options and rights should your employer fail to investigate your claim or retaliate against you for filing a complaint.
If your employer fires you for filing a complaint, you can proceed with a wrongful termination action. It is against the law for an employer to take any adverse action against an employee as retaliation for filing a complaint about unfair treatment, harassment, or discrimination.
Do Not Discuss the Matter with Anyone
It is best not to discuss the unfair treatment with coworkers or friends. The things that you say could be misconstrued. Instead, talk with an employment lawyer about your legal rights and your options for filing a lawsuit against your employer for failing to address discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment in the workplace.
Refrain From Posting Anything on Social Media
It is understandable to want to rant about unfair treatment at work to friends on social media. However, that is not in your best interest. Your comments could hurt your case if you file an employment lawsuit.
Your attorney may advise you to deactivate your social media accounts until your case is resolved. However, that does not mean you should use your spouse’s account to rant or allow your spouse, friend, or family member to bash your employer online on your behalf.
Explore Your Options for Dealing with Unfair Treatment at Work
You may want to remain at your job. If so, your attorney can discuss options for continuing with your current employment. However, if you want to leave because the unfair treatment is causing emotional distress, health problems, or mental anguish, you can explore your options for leaving your job too.
Before making any decisions, make sure you understand your legal rights and options. An employment attorney is one of your best resources for dealing with unfair treatment at work.