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How To Deal With An Unfair Workplace

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Jan 19, 2024 | 0 Comments

We all expect to be treated fairly and equitably at work.

This not only means that we have a basic expectation of being treated with dignity and respect, but we also operate with the belief that all employees will be afforded opportunities for pay raises, promotions and other opportunities based on their job performance and fulfillment of job duties.

However, it is a sad and unfortunate fact that not everyone is treated fairly or equitably in American workplaces.

Mistreating employees is unacceptable. As Los Angeles employment lawyers, we often see cases where people are treated poorly and unfairly because of who they are. Others are bullied or harassed in the workplace. While these instances might commonly occur in many workplaces, they are illegal.

You do not have to tolerate or endure such unfair treatment in the workplace. You have legal rights and options.

Key Points - Table of Contents

What Constitutes Unfair Treatment?

It is illegal to harass or discriminate in the workplace against someone because of so-called "protected characteristics" such as age, disability, pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, color, nationality and sex.

It is illegal to engage in behavior that is harassing or discriminatory, which could create a hostile work environment, making it difficult for an employee to perform his or her job duties.

Here are just a few examples of unfair treatment at work: 

  • Spreading rumors about an employee
  • Passing up someone for a training opportunity or promotion because of someone's race, color, gender or other protected characteristic.
  • Creating offensive comments, emails or social media posts about an employee.
  • Demoting, transferring, or dismissing an employee without a fair, disciplinary process.
  • Paying women lower wages for doing the same job, because of their sex.
  • Firing or laying off older workers so the company can hire younger, cheaper workers to do their jobs.

What Actions Can You Take?

If you are being treated unfairly in the workplace, there are a number of steps you can take in order to protect your rights: 

Document The Unfair Treatment

It is crucial that you document the treatment you perceive to be illegal or unfair even if you are not sure if the treatment rises to the level of discrimination or harassment.

Documentation typically includes any email messages, internal memo, office communications, voicemails, etc. It is important that you preserve this type of evidence that shows the unfair treatment.

You may also be able to use this information as leverage in negotiating severance pay and terms of your severance agreement should you decide to quit or if you are fired.

It would also help to write down anything you remember about instances of mistreatment. It is important to write it down as soon as possible when you remember details and specifics. 

Report The Unfair Treatment

If you do intend to remain at your job, your attorney may advise you to report the unfair treatment to your company's Human Resources Department.

When you report unfair treatment at work a few things happen.  The report helps formalize your complaint and also puts you under the "whistleblower" category.

This means you will have rights similar to those of victims of discrimination.

Your employer cannot fire you or lay you off after you file a complaint because it gives the appearance of retaliation.

So, essentially, filing a formal complaint not only gets the incidents of unfair treatment on the record, but it also helps protect you from further mistreatment or even wrongful termination.

In addition, it might motivate your employer to take steps to address the unfair treatment, although that's not guaranteed.

Stay Away From Social Media

The one thing you should absolutely stay away from doing is posting information about your unfair treatment on social media.

It is perfectly understandable that unfair treatment is anger-inducing. However, it would behoove you to remain calm and collected.

Blowing up online or on social media could end up putting you in a disadvantageous position.

Your employment attorney might even advise you to suspend your social media accounts until your case is resolved because attorneys for the other side might look for something on your social media accounts to justify a firing or use information to their advantage.

Remember, anything you post on social media can be seen by others. Attorneys will often use what they find on social media against you and to their client's advantage.

Take Care Of Yourself

Mistreatment or harassment at the workplace can be emotionally traumatizing.

Self-care is very important during such a time. Talk to family members, your spiritual adviser and/or friends.

If you believe the treatment at work may have been criminal, such as a physical or sexual assault, it is important that you report it to law enforcement right away so the responsible parties can be held accountable.

If you can find support groups where you reside, it might be a good idea to share your feelings with such a group.

Support groups are also helpful because they remind us that we are not alone and there are others who are dealing with similar issues.

Should I Discuss Unfair Treatment in the Workplace with HR?

Many employees believe that the human resources (HR) department is there to protect and support them when it comes to issues of unfair treatment in the workplace. However, it's important to understand that HR's primary responsibility is to protect the company they work for. While this may involve addressing and preventing discrimination and harassment, their ultimate goal is often to resolve any problems in a way that benefits the company.

Unfortunately, it has been observed that individuals who raise concerns about unfair treatment at work have sometimes faced negative consequences such as demotion or termination. Although this is illegal, it does happen. Therefore, if you find yourself facing unfair treatment at your workplace, it is advisable to consult an attorney specializing in employment law before taking any further steps.

An experienced employment lawyer can guide you through the regulations specific to your state and help you present a professional complaint to your HR department. If you decide to remain in your job while addressing these issues, having legal counsel will be invaluable throughout the complaint process by providing advice on how best to handle each interaction.

Additionally, your lawyer can serve as a voice of reason during what can be an emotionally charged situation. Harassment and unfair treatment are hurtful experiences that often elicit strong emotions from those involved. It can be challenging not to respond impulsively or emotionally when faced with unkind comments or social media posts related to these issues. Your attorney will assist you in maintaining professionalism and presenting your claims objectively without being swayed by personal feelings.

If staying in your current role is part of your plan moving forward, one crucial step towards resolving workplace harassment or unfair treatment involves reporting the issue formally within your organization's established procedures. By doing so, you provide an opportunity for management and HR personnel who may be unaware of the problem's extent or existence altogether to address it effectively.

Filing a formal complaint ensures documentation of actions taken regarding your concerns. Moreover, it places you in a "whistleblower" category, which affords legal protection against retaliation from your employer. This means that your company cannot fire or demote you as a direct result of filing a complaint.

Contact An Experienced Lawyer

If you have documented the treatment you perceive to be unfair, harassing or discriminatory, contact an experienced and knowledgeable employment attorney who can help you determine your goals and devise strategies to accomplish those goals.

Is your goal to remain on the job for as long as possible? Do you want to leave your current job, but get the best possible severance pay and agreement? Do you want to change the culture in your workplace by filing a class action lawsuit along with other colleagues who have faced similar unfair treatment?

The type of approach you take would depend on what you wish to accomplish.

Using a top contingency employment attorney for your case is an important decision. The experienced Los Angeles employment attorneys at Kingsley and Kingsley Employment Lawyers have nearly four decades of experience helping individuals stand up and fight against unfair treatment at work.

Need Help?

Employment law may seem simple, but the devil is in the details. Let an employment attorney at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers answer your pressing questions via a free consultation. The consultation is 100% free and there is no pressure whatsoever to hire.

Be it sexual harassment, discrimination, wage and hour issues, workplace bullying, or wrongful termination, the employment attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers have the knowledge, experience and resources to help you get the information you need and, if necessary, fight on your behalf to help you secure maximum compensation for your losses.

Their no-win-no-fee guarantee helps ensure that you won't pay any fees unless we recover compensation for you. Call us at (818) 990-8300 to schedule your free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

Eric B. Kingsley is a 2023 "Best In Law" Award winner and has litigated over 150 class actions. He is also an AV peer rated attorney and a prolific speaker at various seminars on employment law.


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