In any job, you’ll inevitably experience unfair situations. You might be inclined to let things slide to keep the peace, but sometimes that’s not the best solution. When you’re being mistreated to the point where you no longer feel valued, it’s time to speak up.
Being mistreated at work is fairly common. If you’ve been treated unfairly at work, you’re not alone. According to Georgetown professor Chris Porath, 98% of workers surveyed say they’ve experienced incivility at work and 99% have witnessed it affecting others.
Are you experiencing the following unfair situations? If so, don’t let them slide.
1. Being wrongly reprimanded
You’re likely to experience being reprimanded for something you didn’t do or for doing something wrong under the instructions of your supervisor. You shouldn’t let this type of reprimand slide for a couple of reasons.
The most pressing reason to speak up about being unfairly reprimanded is because it might become routine. If you don’t speak out in the beginning, you won’t be taken seriously later on when it becomes an overwhelming issue.
Can multiple write-ups get you fired? If so, you need to speak up or you could lose your job. Some supervisors are bullies and issue write-ups for no good reason and they’ll ask you to sign it to acknowledge your responsibility. If you’re not guilty, don’t sign the write-up. It’s harder for employers to get sued when the reason for termination is related to poor performance. Sometimes employers will create a history of write-ups in order to legally fire someone.
Another reason to speak up is if you genuinely want a resolution. Most people will complain but they don’t bother to work out the problem. When you’re committed to resolution, you might get your chance to speak with upper management about the problem. Just remember to approach the situation with a positive, solution-oriented attitude rather than complaining. If you’re effective with conflict-resolution you could end up being promoted based on the way you handle the situation.
If the situation you’ve been reprimanded for is discriminatory in nature, skip the meetings and go straight to the Equal Employment Opportunity Center (EEOC) to file a complaint. This leads right into the next situation you shouldn’t let slide.
2. Unlawful discrimination
Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, age, or national origin. Many local cities and counties enact their own anti-discrimination laws to expand on Federal protections. For example, Washington DC added the unemployed to the list of protected classes; employers can’t discriminate against someone who is currently unemployed.
Although the laws are in place, that doesn’t stop employers from unlawfully discriminating against employees. If you’ve been the victim of discrimination, file a charge with the EEOC as soon as possible. They’ll need to review your case and conduct an investigation to determine whether or not discrimination has taken place. If your case isn’t dismissed, you’ll receive a “right to sue” letter, which means you can pursue a lawsuit against your employer. Your timeframe for filing a lawsuit is limited, so make sure to consult with an employment lawyer as soon as possible.
3. Wrongful termination
Wrongful termination can take on many forms. People get fired all the time for reasons unrelated to job performance. Employees get set up for failure, written up unnecessarily, and some managers let people go when there’s a personality clash.
Employers in at-will states get away with this practice by not giving a reason for the termination. However, sometimes you can still prove wrongful termination with enough evidence. If you’ve been terminated from your job and you feel it was an unfair decision, look at your paperwork to see if your boss gave a reason for your termination. If you were given a reason that wasn’t disciplinary, you may have been wrongfully terminated in the eyes of the law.
If you’ve been wrongly terminated, you might have a case against your employer. You’re probably busy revamping your professional skills and sending out resumes to potential employers, but take a moment to contact a lawyer. When you’ve already lost your job, there’s nothing at stake for pursing a lawsuit so it makes sense to at least consult with an attorney to find out if you have a case.
Take back your power
It’s understandable if being treated unfairly makes you angry. However, instead of going into defensive mode and reacting, take back your power. Take the moral high road and don’t react with anger or hostility. Refuse to play the game. When you’ve exhausted all remedies offered by your job and the problem hasn’t been solved, contact a lawyer to find out if you’ve got a case.