(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)
By Rodman Employment Law
If you have faced any kind of unlawful discrimination or harassment at work, or if your employer has violated wage and hour laws or workplace safety laws, you may need to file a complaint with HR. As an article in Money explains, it is important to remember that all workplace issues may not rise to the level of an HR grievance. However, if you are not certain about whether the issue at work necessitates an HR complaint, you should consider moving forward with the complaint or seeking advice from an experienced employment lawyer.
When to File a Complaint
You should file a complaint with HR if your employer has violated any state or federal law, if you have been subject to unlawful discrimination in the workplace under Massachusetts or federal law, or if you have been harmed as a result of a workplace policy violation. If any of the following state or federal laws have been violated, you should file a complaint:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA);
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA);
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA);
- Whistleblower Protection Act;
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations;
- Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious creed, national origin, or sex; or
- Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
These are only some examples. Violations of other state or federal laws, as well as violations of company policies, may necessitate an HR complaint.
What Your Complaint Should Contain
If you do need to file a complaint with HR, it is critical to ensure that your complaint contains all required elements. Your complaint should contain all of the following:
- Detailed description of who was involved;
- When the incident happened;
- Quotes, photographs, or any other documentation; and
- Where you were when the incident happened.
If something illegal happened, you should be specific in identifying that illegal act, such as:
- Unpaid wages or commissions;
- Leave law violations;
- Sexual harassment;
- Retaliation; or
- Whistleblower law violations.
Your complaint should be in writing. When you write your complaint, you should follow any procedures outlined in your employee handbook. If you do not have an employee handbook, you should send the complaint through email. If HR responds orally, respond with an email confirming everything that HR said.
HR Works for Your Employer, Not for You
You should remember that HR works for your employer and not for you. Accordingly, HR will not advocate for you. If an issue or a dispute arises, you should seek legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer.
You Will Need to Follow Up After Filing a Complaint
After you file a complaint, you should follow up with HR. You should anticipate that there may be an investigation. If there is an investigation, you should document the investigation yourself with contemporaneous notes and emails to HR confirming what was said. If the issue is not resolved through the investigation, you should call a lawyer.
What if You are Terminated or Demoted for Filing a Complaint?
If you are terminated, demoted, or have any other negative action taken against you for filing an HR complaint, you may have been retaliated against. The law protects employees from retaliation if the HR complaint was about something unlawful. If you believe you have faced retaliation, you should call a lawyer.
Contact an Employment Lawyer for Assistance
If you need representation after filing a workplace complaint, or if you have faced retaliation because you complained about discrimination, unsafe working conditions, or another unlawful issue, you should seek legal advice. An experienced Massachusetts employment law attorney at our firm can discuss your case with you and can advise you about moving forward with your complaint. Contact us today or call our office at 617-820-5250.