Shall I complain? Will I be fired?
Author: Employment attorney Alena Shautsova
When somebody experiences pressure and harassment at work, they are not sure what to do. Even if they received “training” and an employee book which many employers provide just as a formality, people are not sure if they should submit a formal complaint due to fear of retaliation.
First, a person who believes he or she is a subject of discrimination has to complain. There is simply no choice. A complaint has to be in writing because otherwise, an employer will deny it ever happened. Of course, under the law the writing requirement is not necessary, and sometimes even employee’s actions may be regarded as objection to discrimination, but if one would like to make sure that the fact of the complaint cannot be disputed, it is better to submit a letter or an email.
Further, many are confused as to who they should complain to. If the employer is a large company, it should be its human resource department. If it is a smaller company, the owner or main manager.
The most important question that a person who is thinking about complaining has is if she/he will be fired after the complaint. There is no doubt, that submitting a complaint will cause some reaction from the employer. Ideally, an employer would conduct an investigation and would not allow any form of negative reaction towards the complainant. In fact, the law says that an employer cannot retaliate against the complainant. The law goes even further, stating that if an employer retaliates against an employee, such an employee may defend herself/himself in court and if the retaliation is demonstrated, an employer will be responsible for damages for retaliation, as well as discrimination.
Retaliation may be in different forms: termination, denial of benefits, undesirable transfer, hostile environment, etc. Whatever is the case, it is unlawful. Moreover, an employer may retaliate not against the complainant, but against his/her family member or co-worker who is supportive of the complainant. While nobody can promise that the employer would not violate the law and retaliate against the complainant, the law does protect the complainant, and as such, encourages the resolutions of the difficult situations.