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Dos and don’ts on discrimination complaints May 26, 2015

dos-and-dontsHow you complain about discrimination at work can make the difference between success and failure on a retaliation claim. So here are some tips on what to do and what not to do when complaining about workplace discrimination.

DO:  Consult with a lawyer. Complain in writing. Complain promptly. Consult your Employee Handbook. Complain to your supervisor, someone above your supervisor or to human resources. Report the facts that show your honest and reasonable belief that discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, national origin, religion (or any other protected bases) has occurred. Remember that you can complain about discrimination against others, not just yourself. Request an investigation and corrective action. Offer to cooperate in your employer’s investigation. Be professional and respectful in your language and tone. Keep a log of dates and events such as who you talked to, when, what you talked about and what you were told. Save all relevant emails, text messages and paper documents.

DON’T:  Go it alone. Complain verbally without following up in writing. Wait weeks or months before complaining. Ignore the procedures in your Employee Handbook. Pretend that the discriminatory behavior will go away if you ignore it. Laugh along with the discriminator to show that you know how to “get along” or be a “team member.” Complain to a co-worker. Complain about “discrimination” without relating it to a protected status such as race, gender, disability, national origin, age, or religion. Wait around for the employer to report back to you. Be unprofessional, angry or hostile in your language and tone. Think you will remember everything without writing it down. Copy, print or download documents or information that you are not authorized to access. Discard any relevant emails, text messages or other important evidence.      

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