Discerning if a Work Issue is Worthy of a Complaint to Human Resources

If you have been in the workforce for some time, you have likely wondered if an issue is worthy of an official complaint to your human resources (HR) department. While there is certainly some gray area on a variety of issues, there are also problems that should definitely be taken to your HR manager. The key to figuring this out is being able to determine what is simply a work difficulty and what is a true violation of your rights as an employee.

Here are a few examples of what qualifies as a complaint that should be taken to HR.

Violation of Company Rights

In today's sticky work climate at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown, it is more important than ever to know your rights as an employee. This means that it is up to you to learn your rights and where your company stands on certain issues. If you are laid off or furloughed, you need to understand what this means to you in the short term. For example, if your manager is asking you to keep working during a furlough period with no pay, you would be within your rights to take this issue to HR.

Any Type of Harassment

It goes without saying that any type of harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated. While the biggest offender is generally sexual harassment, this type of abuse can come in many forms. Other kinds of harassment complaints that need to go straight to HR include those based on age, race, gender, or nationality. Your HR manager should be well aware of the laws that govern these types of complaints and how to handle them. It is important that you are clear from the start that you are filing a formal complaint. This should trigger a formal investigation and ensure that the problem gets seen through to a solution.

Discrimation Issues

Like harassment cases, a formal complaint needs to be filed if you feel as if you are being discriminated against. It is clearly against the law to discriminate based on an individual's race, religion, sex, or disability. A good HR department will be well-versed in the laws surrounding discrimination. If you feel as if this is not the case, you may want to look into getting outside legal assistance.

Abusive Colleagues

Another issue that is clear-cut is the topic of abuse. An abusive manager or colleague should immediately be reported to HR. This includes both physical and mental abuse. Behaviors that may qualify as abuse include intimidation tactics or manipulation. While this may be harder to prove, your HR department will be able to guide you down the right path.

Illegal Activity

If somebody in your organization asks you to do something illegal, it is vital to go to HR immediately for help. There are ways that you can submit complaints anonymously if you feel uncomfortable reporting the illegal activity.

Reasons to Not Go to HR

Just as there are reasons when you should definitely take a matter to HR for reporting, there are also times when it is not prudent to take an issue to this department. Petty disagreements with a colleague are not a reason for HR to get involved.

A personality clash with your manager is also not a reason to go to HR. It is also recommended to try to solve minor issues on your own before taking them to HR. In many cases, the first thing that an HR representative will ask you is if you have tried to resolve the issue on your own.

Before Going to HR

Before you file a complaint with HR, you need to have all of your ducks in a row. After reading through the company policies, you can then document the problem as proof. Be sure to use carefully selected words that are completely truthful. You should also keep a copy of your complaint for your own use.

Understanding your rights as an employee and an individual as a whole is the first step in knowing if you should escalate an issue and take it to HR. Like everything in the workplace, knowledge translates to empowerment.

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