How To Deal With An Unfair Workplace

For most of us, we spend more of our waking hours at work than we do at home or anywhere else. Therefore, it is reasonable that we would want the time spent at work to be enjoyable and productive. It can be impossible to be productive and enjoy our job when we are being treated unfairly at work. 

Unfortunately, employees are not always treated fairly. For example, an employee may be a productive, hard worker who is rarely ever out of work and has a team mentality and an excellent performance record. However, that employee could be the victim of an unfair workplace if their supervisor or boss likes to play favorites.

Playing favorites is part of almost every workplace. Managers, supervisors, and bosses have their favorite employees. These employees may get the best lunchtimes, corner offices, company cars, cell phones, and corner offices.

It is essential to keep in mind that not being one of the “favorites” is different from being treated unfairly. Also, not having work friends is different from being treated unfairly at work. 

What Does Unfair Treatment Mean?

There are specific actions that employers cannot take. If employers cross the line, they risk breaking labor and employment laws. They may also break other employment laws.

For example, if an employer treats an employee unfairly because of an employee’s gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age, or another protected class, the employer may be guilty of discrimination. Employers cannot harass employees or create hostile work environments. 

Examples of unfair treatment at work include, but are not limited to:

  • Hiring younger employees by firing the older employees within the company
  • Spread gossip and rumors about an employee, regardless of whether the rumors are true or false
  • Transferring, demoting, or dismissing a worker without a fair and uniform disciplinary process
  • Paying females lower wages based solely on their gender for performing the same job duties as a male
  • Refusing to allow someone to receive training and promotions based on the race
  • Creating harassing and offense emails, messages, and comments about an employee

You do not have to put up with unfair treatment at work. There are several things you can do.

What Should You Do After Unfair Treatment at Work?

No one should have to put up with unfair treatment at work. If you do your job and avoid mistakes, you should be rewarded instead of harassed. 

Document What Is Happening

The first step is to document the unfair treatment. Make copies of documents, texts, messages, or other comments or documentation related to the unfair treatment. Preserving this type of evidence will significantly help you when the matter goes to court.

Report the Unfair Treatment

If a co-worker is the source of the unfair treatment or harassment, report the matter to your boss. However, if your boss is the person being unfair in the workplace, you need to follow the company policy for reporting incidents. In many cases, the company has policies in place for employees to file reports of unfair treatment and other wrongdoing through human resources.

File a Complaint or Report 

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate because an employee reported harassment, unfair treatment, or other employer wrongdoing. Unfortunately, just because the employer can’t take specific actions under the law, it doesn’t actually prevent the employer from doing so. It does, however, provide victims of unfair practices with the right and opportunity to make things right through legal action.

Therefore, it is always wise to keep detailed records when you report incidents or file complaints. Keep copies of all documents you submit to your employer as evidence that you are being treated unfairly. In addition, make careful notes of each conversation or interaction with anyone within the company related to the unfair treatment.

If your employer wrongfully terminates your employment or refuses to address the unfair treatment, you may need to speak with a labor law attorney about your options for filing a state or federal complaint. In some cases, you might have a cause of action to file a lawsuit against your employer. 

Do Not Discuss the Situation Online or with Others

It may be tempting to rant about your work or your employer on social media or other social networking sites. However, these actions could make it more difficult for you to win a lawsuit regarding unfair treatment. 

Nothing is truly private when it is posted online. You do not want to give your employer any justification for the unfair treatment or a reason to fire you. Discussing internal company workings outside of work may be prohibited according to company policies. 

Do not discuss the matter with your co-workers either. You do not know who you can trust at work. Instead, talk to trusted friends outside of work or family members if you need support and guidance. If you are unsure what to do next, do not sit by and allow the unfair treatment to continue. If you are not ready to contact a lawyer about the matter, you can contact the EEOC or the DFEH about filing a complaint through the agency. However, obtaining legal advice about your options before deciding how to proceed can be beneficial for you.