No matter where you are located across the country, if you face an employment law issue, you are no doubt experiencing a significant amount of stress. Knowing when to contact an attorney and what your legal rights are can help immensely in any employment law situation.
What to do first
While you might be ready to report an ethical issue to your HR department, talking with an attorney first can be in your best interests. There is a certain way you will want to phrase any claims you make, and you want to make sure nothing you say can be twisted and used against you later. By talking with an attorney before you engage with HR, you will learn the right steps to say and what to avoid saying.
A word of caution with HR — your company might present HR as a neutral party there to liaison between employee and company. But, if you think about it, HR employees work for the company and that’s ultimately who they must protect if they want to keep their own jobs. It’s not that you shouldn’t engage with HR, it’s just that you should do so very carefully under the recommendation of your attorney.
Who experiences employment law issues?
It doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur or the CEO at a Fortune 500 company, employment law violations can happen to anyone. The fact is that every employee has certain rights and it doesn’t matter what your status at your place of employment may be. No company should take advantage of you. It doesn’t matter if you are working minimum wage, you have the right to a clean and safe workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination.
Types of employment law issues
Here are just some employment law issues you might be experiencing:
- Discriminatory behaviors or actions — whether discrimination is subtle or blatant, state and federal laws protect workers from experiencing discrimination at work
- Inadequate severance package — if you have been laid off, there is a chance the severance package (if you are getting one at all) might not be sufficient
- Witnessing fraud in the workplace — if you have witnessed fraudulent or illegal activity at work, an attorney can help you navigate through the consequences of blowing the whistle and ensure that your job is protected
- Quid Pro Quo — if you are in a situation where a boss has promised a promotion if you perform sexual favors (or other favors), an attorney can help you confront and address any form of sexual harassment in the workplace
You are not stuck
Arguably, the worst part of going through an issue like this at work is that you might still work there and be forced to deal with this every day. Remember that you are not stuck. This might take some time, but you will be able to take action about the unfair way you have been treated.
The important thing to remember is — don’t act rashly, which could complicate the situation. Saying or doing something in the heat of the moment could be used against you down the road. An attorney can advise on the best course of action for you to take, as well as on any actions or behaviors to avoid, like discussing your situation on social media. Take a deep breath and remember that you are not alone in seeking help and protection during a trying time at work.