Whether you have been sexually harassed or suffered from employment discrimination, one of the most common questions I receive is how to prevent retaliation.  Here are ten tips to protect yourself after you make a complaint:

  1. Not all complaints regarding your job are protected from retaliation. Only specific complaints relating to discrimination (race, gender, age, religion, disability) or certain types of harassment (sexual or discrimination based harassment).  In Alabama, there is no protection against general harassment in the workplace.
  2. Once you have decided to make a complaint of discrimination or illegal harassment, be forceful and make sure that your company cannot claim they did not know what you were complaining about.
  3. When reporting discrimination or harassment, do not shy away from describing the specific basis of your complaint and why you feel its discriminatory. In other words, if it involves race discrimination use the term “race” when describing it.
  4. If at all possible make your complaint in writing and keep a copy. E-mail is a great way to ensure that you have a record that your complaint was made and that it was received.
  5. Make your complaint to the correct person. If you work for a larger company, you will usually receive an employee handbook that will identify the right person or provide a hotline number to make the complaint.
  6. Don’t wait to make the complaint. There are strict timelines on discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation claims.  If you wait too long to make your complaint you may lose your rights.
  7. You do not have to complain to your supervisor if your supervisor is involved in the discrimination or harassment. Usually, you can contact your HR department or someone higher up in the company than your supervisor.
  8. Be specific in making your complaint. Identifying names, dates, and statements can go a long way towards proving your case and provide protections from later discrimination.
  9. If you feel you are being retaliated against by a co-worker or supervisor, DOCUMENT everything. Keeping a journal or old emails, text messages of social media posts can be very important to your claim.
  10. Consult an experienced Alabama employment law attorney prior to making your complaint or if you feel you are being subjected to retaliation. Call Beckum Law at (205) 588-0699 for a free consultation or reach us by email at wbeckum@beckumlaw.com.

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