Should I report harassment or discrimination to my employer?

After an employee has suffered from discrimination, sexual harassment, or unlawful retaliation in the workplace, one of the immediate key issues is whether they should report the issue to their employer. This is a critical issue and one that must be handled properly to ensure a positive outcome for the employee.

While each employer is different many companies provide a specific procedure for reporting incidents of discrimination and harassment. This may be a specific individual such as a supervisor, Human Resources representative, or even an employee hotline phone number. This information may be contained in the employee handbook or available through Human Resources. Other times it is posted in the break room on a wall poster. In many circumstances, it can be critical for the employee to follow this procedure to ensure that the appropriate person is notified.

While some circumstances make it easy to report this issue to your supervisor or manager, what are you supposed to do when that supervisor or manager is the person discriminating or sexually harassing you? In those situations, it is obviously unfair to the employee to require them to report the unlawful conduct to the person who is participating in the discrimination. If there is no obvious person to report the issue to at work, that is a good time to consult with an experienced employment attorney to discuss the next steps.

Once you report the issue, the company then has an obligation to investigate and prevent the discrimination or harassment from occurring. Many employees are concerned about retaliation for reporting discrimination and unfortunately we see a number of cases where this occurs. However, if you properly report discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, or religion or if you report sexual or race based harassment, you are legally protected from retaliation.

Our law firm assists employees with making the decision to report discrimination and harassment to their employers. It is a difficult decision and it must be done properly to prevent retaliation or further unlawful conduct by the company. Please contact us at (205) 588-0699 if you have questions about your specific situation.

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