Sometimes, when you are constantly being put down, harassed and belittled, you lose sight of those simple things that are a MUST in protecting your rights as an employee. We constantly receive telephone calls from employees that usually go something like “Hello, my name is Jane and I am being harassed at work because I suffer from a (disability) (Race Discrimination) (Age Discrimination) (gender discrimination) etc., and I do not know what to do.”
The number one thing an employee must do in a situation like this is file a complaint with their employer in WRITING ! Using key words, such as coming right out and saying “I feel I am being discriminated against because of my disability, age, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race….”
Yes, your first instinct is to feel scared, afraid, worried that you are going to become a target or worse, lose your job. Those are all natural responses. These things may even happen because, let’s face it – there is no way of knowing how an employer will react to such a complaint letter. However when you stop and look at what can happen if you do not file this letter as compared to what should happen if you filed the complaint; you will realize that you are doing yourself a potential injustice by not speaking up.
I don’t want to file a Complaint and I will just continue to try and stay under the wire. That of course is an option. So what happens if you do not file a complaint? You continue to suffer or worse, you find yourself terminated for some absurd reason that is not truthful and a cover-up to terminate you because of your race, disability, pregnancy, age, etc. What can you do about it? Your prospects are pretty slim, because you know what happens if you file a complaint after you are terminated? You are labeled as a disgruntled employee who is only complaining now because you got fired. You can of course still file against the company, but now you have this unnecessary hurdle to overcome. If you had just filed your complaint while you were employed, the outcome could have been so much more productive.
So why is it so important to file that complaint, even though you are nervous to do so? The easiest way to answer this question is to put it this way: You are in front of a Judge and you say to the Judge, I was constantly discriminated against and then I was fired. The first question any Judge or Investigator is going to ask you is this: “How did you put your employer on notice that this discrimination was occurring?” If your answer is “I didn’t complaint” realistically, the response you are going to receive is “well then how could the company be liable for acts they had no idea were occurring? How could the company have corrected the situation, if they didn’t know about it?” Every employer in the State of Connecticut must have certain policies and procedures in place as it pertains to discrimination in the workplace. They must have harassment and a sexual harassment policy. That policy must indicate that such behavior is not tolerated. That it will be investigated. It will be remedied and no retaliation against the complaining party will occur. This is the reason why it is so important that you file that complaint in writing. The employer must take your complaint seriously and investigate it. Failure to do so, imposes additional liability upon the employer. If you are terminated after filing such a complaint, it is considered retaliatory behavior on the part of your employer and they face additional liability. While it is true that some employees have faced a termination after filing a written complaint of discrimination and/or harassment, the majority of employees have found that their situation was taken care of and were able to continue in their jobs without any issues. Those employees who did face a wrongful termination, were armed with their complaint letter and in a good position to file a discrimination complaint against their employer for their wrongful, discriminatory and/or retaliatory discharge.