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Employee Complaint Investigations: What Human Resources Won't Tell You

FlourishAnyway is an industrial/organizational psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

Other employees may share your problem and you just don't know it. How much do you trust Human Resources to provide complete and accurate information?

Other employees may share your problem and you just don't know it. How much do you trust Human Resources to provide complete and accurate information?

Workplace Investigations: Observations From an HR Insider

Are you an employee who has been accused of workplace wrongdoing? Alternatively, are you thinking about filing a complaint with your HR department or corporate compliance hotline? If so, you may not have a practical understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. This is especially true if you have never been involved in an internal complaint investigation.

While all companies have different processes for managing complaints, here is a list of key observations based on my years as a corporate HR investigator.

Following the list, I've included specific advice on how to file a complaint against a coworker, customer, vendor, or manager.

What I Will Discuss

  • Tips and observations about employee complaint investigations based on my experience as an investigator in corporate Human Resources
  • Specific tips for how to file your own complaint against a coworker, customer, vendor, or manager
  • What to do next if your complaint isn't successful the first time

Highlights of the Employee Complaint Process

  • Be clear when describing the issue that prompted your complaint. Human Resources codes each case (discrimination, sexual harassment, etc.), and it's important that your case gets the right code so it gets the proper attention.
  • If you don't feel you're getting good service from your HR investigator, find out more about them in a low-profile manner, and document your communications with him/her. With sufficient reason, you may request another investigator.
  • Ask upfront for an estimate of how long the case should take to resolve and arrange for periodic updates. If you don't hear anything, check in.
  • Watch the tone and content of emails you send to investigators. They are likely keeping records of their communication with you. Be responsive to questions, and don't change your story.
  • Ask clarifying questions if the company tells you to keep your matter confidential, particularly if you are a nonsupervisory employee. Who are they specifically forbidding you from discussing the matter with? (The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that companies cannot automatically request that employees refrain from discussing the matter with other employees.)
  • Keep documents, details, and witnesses to support your claim.
  • If you have a lot at risk related to your complaint, consider consulting an attorney.
  • Your relationship with the HR investigator is a business one. Treat it as such. They are not there to be your friend.
Before you file that complaint with your employer, do you know what the complaint process involves?

Before you file that complaint with your employer, do you know what the complaint process involves?

How the Complaint Process Works

If you are assigned a case number, your complaint was probably entered into a computer database. The company tracks case details such as name, job title, and contact information for the complainant, Person Complained About (PCA), and any named witnesses.

Additionally, the computer record captures a summary of the allegations you made. It can be pulled up years later. Who can access it now? Well, plenty of interested parties.

Your case may be shared with a number of key players who "need to know."

Your case may be shared with a number of key players who "need to know."

Who Is Informed About Your Complaint?

You trust HR to share your complaint with key personnel on only a "need-to-know" basis. But here's the kicker: because executives desperately want to know about compliance and people issues that affect their department, this "need to know" list can become quite extensive.

Too many people may be in the loop when HR is unable to effectively push back against unnecessary requests from nosy executives. Depending on the nature of your complaint and the politics in your organization, the distribution list can include a long list. This includes executives both inside your department and out, plus employees in the Law department, personnel in Audit, Finance, IT, Security, Compliance, and multiple layers of HR. That's a lot of inquiring minds crawling all up in your confidential business!

Who Else Shares Your Complaint Issue?

If only you knew how many complaints mirror your own! The truth is that you're probably not alone, although it can sure feel that way.

HR tracks, counts, and reports on complaint data, and they typically use a labeling scheme to code allegations (e.g., theft, sexual harassment). This permits data analysis on large numbers of complaints. For example, the company may look at trends in the number and types of discrimination cases for this year versus previous years.

Of course, how HR codes your case is important. Hopefully, you were very clear about what issue prompted your complaint. Why is that important?

Other employees may share your problem, but you just don't know it.

Other employees may share your problem, but you just don't know it.

Why Your Complaint's Code Is Important

In the face of significant pressure from top executives, sometimes HR management re-codes "borderline" cases, so the numbers don't look quite as bad. For example, an allegation of discrimination might become a generic management conduct issue. This is such an ethically slippery slope! And it's how systemic problems are swept under the rug.

Is It Possible to Stay Anonymous?

If you make an anonymous complaint, a good HR investigator can often logically deduce who you are. That's simply good detective work!

Your Information May Not Be Protected

HR may routinely email detailed investigation reports to one another or executives that are unencrypted and not password protected. That's your information they're handling sloppily.

HR employees may accidentally leave materials on copying machines and printers or displayed on computer screens when they leave their desks "for just a moment." The investigator might even take your case file home. File materials may contain information that is not only personally identifying but also very sensitive, putting you at risk in more than one way.

Your information may be safe with HR ... or not. If HR works in open office spaces, there may be many opportunities for passersby to overhear conversations about you or to see your personal data. That hardly feels confidential now, does it?

Your information may be safe with HR ... or not. If HR works in open office spaces, there may be many opportunities for passersby to overhear conversations about you or to see your personal data. That hardly feels confidential now, does it?

Executives Are Treated Differently

You suspected this was true. Executives and other special people are often treated differently than you. Their investigations are often faster, more discreet, and more informal.

When they misbehave, their consequences are typically less severe and poorly documented. Even when serious misbehavior is substantiated, they may have a broader range of face-saving options (e.g., early retirement or a mutual resignation agreement). Sadly, instead of holding them to higher standards, HR representatives often do the opposite.

Your Case Will Be Talked About

Your case may be discussed in internal HR team meetings or special meetings with Law, Audit, Compliance, Executives, or others. However, it's not a gossip session; it's a business meeting about your case. There can be a discussion about the facts of your case, findings, and recommended action steps.

What if You Get a Bad Investigator?

There are investigators who are good at their job and others who are not. Your investigator may

  • be poorly trained or inexperienced
  • have a performance issue himself/herself
  • suffer HR issues of his or her own.

Some companies rotate their HR employees through various HR sub-specialties (e.g., benefits, training), and you may have been assigned a new investigator who doesn't know EEO law or company policy very well.

If you don't seem to be getting good service, find out more about the investigator in a low-profile, respectful manner. Also, be sure to document your communications with him or her. With sufficient reason, you might also request another investigator.

What if HR Is Swamped With Complaint Investigations?

There are a number of factors that could affect how long your case takes to be investigated. Case volume tends to peak at certain times (i.e., during performance evaluation season, layoffs, reorganizations).

The investigator may have a huge caseload, may be going on vacation, or may be out sick with no back-up. Such factors will affect the amount of time needed for your case to be resolved. Your case may also be handed off to another investigator.

To avoid surprises, ask upfront for an estimate of how long the case should take to resolve, and arrange for periodic check-ins, as appropriate. If you don't hear anything, check in. Don't assume that no news is good news.

Your friendly HR person is taking notes on all your communications with him or her. Are you doing the same?

Your friendly HR person is taking notes on all your communications with him or her. Are you doing the same?

All Communication Is Documented

A good investigator is documenting every key discussion he or she has with you. This includes the conversation date, time, and what was said. It may also include voice mails that were exchanged. Copies of emails and important documents are also kept in the file. Watch the tone and content of the emails you send to investigators!

Who Can You Talk to About Your Case?

When the investigator tells you to keep the investigation matter confidential, it's going to feel like you cannot talk to anyone about this. Maybe he or she even presents you with a company document that directs you to refrain from talking to others about your case.

You may wonder whether you can discuss the matter with your spouse, clergy person, therapist, lawyer, best friend, a coworker who is experiencing the same problem, your union representative, and so forth.

Don't suffer in silence. Know your rights. There are, in fact, people you are legally permitted to discuss your case with and others you cannot.

Ask clarifying questions if the company provides you with such a document or if the investigator makes such a request. Why? In 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that (nonsupervisory) "employees have a ... right to discuss discipline or ongoing disciplinary investigations involving themselves or co-workers" unless there's a substantial business justification. (How else are you going to find out that several other coworkers were also sexually harassed by the same manager?)

This employee just overheard your phone conversation with HR and is intrigued.

This employee just overheard your phone conversation with HR and is intrigued.

Beware of Cubicle Eavesdropping

If you are talking to the investigator via phone, he or she may be sitting in a cubicle or talking to you while using a cell phone in a public location. After all, office space is at a premium. In these cases, others might overhear the details of your conversation, thus fueling the gossip mill. Is that what you want?

How You Communicate With the Investigator Matters

The investigator is evaluating your credibility, and it impacts the outcome of your case. For example:

  • Do you change your story?
  • Are you responsive to the questions asked, or do you wander off-topic?
  • Do you have documents, details, and witnesses to support your assumptions and claims?

Beware of Conflicts of Interest

The investigator might be friends or former colleagues with the person complained about. Check out the investigator's LinkedIn account to see if the two are connected. If you have good reason to believe there may be a relationship that compromises your investigator's neutrality, then consider requesting a new investigator.

A Complainant or Witness Might Receive HR Feedback

On occasion, it becomes apparent that the complainant has a major contributing role in the conflict. In such cases, the complainant may receive feedback (or even discipline) as the case is resolved. Alternatively, during the investigation an unrelated compliance matter could also surface. In cases I have investigated, that has often occurred.

Electronic eavesdropping, or covert monitoring, sometimes occurs during HR investigations. If you think you're being watched, you probably are.

Electronic eavesdropping, or covert monitoring, sometimes occurs during HR investigations. If you think you're being watched, you probably are.

Electronic Eavesdropping Is Possible

Depending on the nature of the case, the investigator may electronically monitor your company email as a part of his or her research. This can be done in real time, and employees typically have no idea it's happening. I know because I've done it.

What Happens if I File Multiple Complaints?

HR often has a short list of employees who repeatedly file complaints—sometimes against the same employee and at other times against lots of different coworkers.

Maybe these folks aren't getting what they need. Maybe they are highly sensitive. Maybe they are abusing the system. Snarky HR investigators may refer to them as "frequent flyers," but each allegation has to be investigated on its own merits.

There's another group of red flag employees who have a history of prior complaints against them, yet they somehow manage to stay employed. Eventually their luck will run out. HR knows that where there is smoke, there is often fire, so do not let this dissuade you from filing a complaint.

HR Is Betting You Won't Contact an Attorney

HR investigates many complaints and trusts that most employees will not go to the trouble or expense of contacting an attorney about their workplace concern. The more you have at risk, however, the more you should consider consulting one. Lawyers do tend to achieve more attention and better results.

What if Nothing Was Done After the Investigation?

If the allegations were substantiated (i.e., found to have merit), you may be told simply that the matter was "handled appropriately." It could appear to you that nothing was done if the PCA wasn't discharged or transferred to a new department.

In fact, there are probably outcomes that you are specifically not told about because of concerns about the other party's privacy. For example: a disciplinary write-up, a reduced performance rating, remedial training, early retirement, a pay cut, demotion, a big promotion denied, or a bonus that was withheld. You may never know exactly what was done to the offender. They have their privacy needs, too.

A Confidential Case Report May Describe Case Details

At the conclusion of your case, the investigator may write a report about your case. A typical report contains background information on the key parties in the complaint, allegations made, steps taken during the investigation, the investigator's evaluative findings, and any actions taken.

In the report, the HR investigator also frequently documents credibility assessments for key parties in the complaint. You will not typically be granted access to this report, although some states consider investigation records to be part of the employee personnel file and therefore do allow access.

When a case is substantiated, the investigator must debrief management and even defend findings. Appreciate your investigator when you know they're doing a conscientious job.

When a case is substantiated, the investigator must debrief management and even defend findings. Appreciate your investigator when you know they're doing a conscientious job.

Substantiating a Case Takes More Effort

Let's face it: it's much easier for the HR investigator if a case has no merit. When a case is substantiated, the investigator must debrief management and agree on discipline and/or remedial action. Then, discipline must be administered and documented. The investigator may even have to present the case to his or her own management and vigorously defend findings and recommended actions, plus seek consult from the Law Department.

This extra work is simply a part of the HR investigator's job. Appreciate them when you know they've been a conscientious investigator.

HR Is Not There to Be Your Friend

The HR investigator may come across as neutral, polite, and professional, and you may trust him or her. You may even perceive that you have HR in your corner. However, if you decide to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or take other formal action, that same HR investigator will be helping to respond to your complaint.

In this case, that nice HR person will be helping to defend the company against your claim. Your relationship with the HR investigator is a business one, so treat it as such.

Before you file the complaint, make a list of the offensive behaviors and how they are having an impact on your work and the business.

Before you file the complaint, make a list of the offensive behaviors and how they are having an impact on your work and the business.

What to Do Before Filing an Employee Complaint

Against a Coworker, Customer, or VendorAgainst a Manager

1. Name (or list) the offensive behavior(s).

1. Name (or list) the offending behavior(s).

2. Describe how the behaviors impact your work and the business.

2. Review your employer’s policy manual or intranet for the complaint process and specific policies you believe your manager has violated.

3. Describe your attempts to manage the issue yourself.

3. Collect relevant supporting documents and details, including a chronological listing of dates/times/witnesses of the offensive conduct, emails, phone or text messages, etc.

4. Assemble any supporting documents and names of witnesses, in case they are needed.

4. Describe your attempts to manage the issue yourself and the results.

Where and How to Complain

Against a Coworker, Customer, or VendorAgainst a Manager

1. Approach your manager when s/he is relaxed and open.

1. Depending on your company’s specific complaint procedure, you may need to file a grievance with your union, a written complaint with Human Resources, have a verbal discussion with the next layer of management, etc.

2. Clearly and concisely describe the offensive behavior, the impact on your job and the business, and the solution that you seek.

2. Clearly and concisely describe the offensive behavior, the impact on your job and the business, and the solution that you seek.

3. Ask for your manager’s help or advice in solving the problem.

3. Ask about next steps in the complaint process. When the complaint is resolved, agree how and when to check back in with your manager about the outcome effectiveness.

4. Agree how and when to check back in with your manager about the outcome effectiveness.

4. Document your conversation immediately afterwards. What was said? What was agreed to? Who was in the room?

If your complaint against a coworker wasn't successful the first time, ask for your manager's direction and explore what other steps may be necessary.

If your complaint against a coworker wasn't successful the first time, ask for your manager's direction and explore what other steps may be necessary.

What to Do if Your Complaint Isn't Successful

Against a Coworker, Customer, or VendorAgainst a Manager

1. Check back in with your manager according to the agreed-upon time frame.

1. Review your employer’s policy manual or intranet for the complaint process, paying specific attention to retaliation if you have suffered tangible outcomes for complaining or the offensive behavior has increased in frequency, severity, etc.

2. Briefly recap your complaint and the advice your manager issued.

2. Write a one-page summary of your complaint, unsuccessful attempts at solving the issue, and reiterate the impacts upon your job and the business.

3. Describe the actions taken and the results (i.e., how your work and the business are still being impacted, the offending behaviors have increased in frequency, severity, etc.).

3. Name the policy you believe was violated and the solution that you seek.

4. Ask for your manager’s direction and explore what other steps may be necessary (e.g., involving HR or a higher level of management).

4. Establish an electronic trail by sending this summary via email to the person you originally complained to, and copy Human Resources requesting help.


5. Continue to document key conversations and collect relevant documents. You may eventually need to go higher in the organization or complain to a government agency.

It's Different for Every Company

HR investigation processes differ from company to company. Should you ever need to file an internal employee complaint, this insider's list of observations can help you ask questions, set shared expectations, and understand the potential pitfalls. Good luck in your dealings with HR and others. Above all, remember that in the grand scheme of life, this is a job. Practice good self-care emotionally and physically. You'll get through this.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: A complaint was made against me. Do I have the right to see employee complaints and when they occurred? I have never been written up or had anything said to me regarding the complaint. However, when I was disciplined it went straight to a final written notice. Can my employer discipline me with a written notice?

Answer: The Company is legally required to investigate allegations of workplace harassment, discrimination, and other noncompliance with the law in a timely manner, and this includes alleged violations of company policies. Although you can always ask the investigator when the complaint was made, they don't have to tell you. (They don't even have to tell you what the complaint is about technically, although a lot of times it is obvious from questions they ask.) You can safely assume, however, that the complaint is recent because of the obligation of timely investigation.

If the investigation found the allegations were substantiated and as a result, you were disciplined, it IS possible to receive a final written notice even though you've never received previous discipline before. Your good work record and prior record of no disciple may have even been a deciding factor in not terminating your employment. For example, if an egregious allegation such as workplace harassment or an alcohol & drug offense is substantiated against you, the Company may choose to give you a final written notice in lieu of termination. Discipline should fit the offense but doesn't always have to start with a first step such as a verbal warning. Check your Company's specific discipline policy to see whether they followed it with you. It's appropriate to ask HR or your manager questions about any discipline you don't understand.

Question: I have gone to HR more than once about my boss berating me through emails and accusing me of something that was not true. I am not the only employee who has complained to HR over this manager. Since this has happened more than once and other people have also complained, HR seems to be doing nothing. Who should I contact about this issue?

Answer: If you know the names of the other employees who have complained, you may want to first check with them to see what happened, if anything, in their cases. Talking with them may generate additional names you were not aware of.

Sometimes HR does address issues privately with the person complained about (PCA), while the complainant never knows exactly what happened. This is because the PCA was counseled, coached, had a note to their file, received remedial training, etc. but still remains in his/her job. However, you specify that after complaints by multiple employees the manager's behavior hasn't changed.

Upon contacting other employees, it would be most helpful to you in carrying the issue forward if you could make a list regarding the following:

1) who complained and their demographics, if you suspect demographics is an issue (e.g., gender, race)

2) what they complained about

3) approximately when they complained

4) which HR employee handled the case, and

5) what the result of the complaint was.

You may not know all of this information, but try to fill in what you can. (Some coworkers may not want to be involved.) Next, look for trends. For example, if complainants have been all females or if all employees were complaining of being yelled at and accused of doing something they didn't do, then note the trend.

Print out a copy of the email in which the manager falsely accused you of something. Print out copies of any other relevant documents and outline your overarching complaint (covering the group of employees). The more organized and logical you are in your presentation of your complaint, the more convincing a case you'll be able to convey.

Next, make an appointment with the Director of HR and present the information. If you've already talked with him or her (or they are part of the problem), then go up the organizational ladder. If you don't like that option, you may also complain to your boss' boss and go up the chain there, presenting the information you compiled.

It is most helpful if a group of several employees meet to complain about the lack of action. In the meeting, make sure you know what solution you're looking for. Do you want your boss retrained, demoted, fired?

If it were me, I'd team up with prior complainants and lodge a group complaint against HR for failing to adequately respond to a trend of managerial misconduct. There is power in numbers. Good luck.

Question: I had a complaint filed against me, and after I met with the investigator he wanted me to sign a form acknowledging that I've been accused of harassment/hostile work environment by X person. It doesn't admit either innocence or wrongdoing but simply acknowledges the investigation. I don't feel comfortable signing this document as it does not say anything about my version of events. Am I being too sensitive? Will signing this document reflect negatively on me? I have not signed the form yet.

Answer: What I imagine is that the company is simply trying to verify that you have been notified of the serious nature of the allegations and interviewed. (Note, however, that without seeing the language on the form it's a little hard for me to say for sure.) You might see this signed investigation form show back up in legal situations. For example, the company might produce it as evidence IF you were 1) discharged from employment and filed a complaint or unemployment claim, or 2) later investigated for retaliation against the complainant.

It would be helpful for you to know if this form is standard procedure for every investigation. The investigator should explain to you the general investigation process and the reason for the form, particularly since you have some anxiety about signing it. While HE is comfortable with it because he deals with this form routinely in investigations, he’s probably never been in your shoes. You can point out respectfully that this is the only investigation you've ever been involved in (if this is true) and this whole process is foreign and confusing to you, including this form. Your job is at risk, and you're scared because you want to ensure that you are given a fair, neutral hearing. You’re disappointed that this form doesn’t say that and specify your rights as a person complained about.

Be sure you present your perspective in a nonaggressive manner. Explain and persuade rather than confront the investigator. Don't give him a first-hand example of unprofessional behavior similar to that which you're accused of. Companies may perceive an employee's refusal to sign any document negatively, (i.e., as noncooperation). However, I hope I’ve provided you with a way you can diplomatically push back and get more information without appearing uncooperative.

I'd personally sign the form if it's standard procedure and you trust you'll have a neutral, unbiased hearing, but that's just me.

Question: I have complained about my superior, and I have been asked for proof or evidence which I don't have in hand. What can I do in this case?

Answer: It's routine for investigators to ask complainants for any supporting evidence. However, an employee shouldn't have to supply proof or evidence (i.e., a "smoking gun") for the investigator to make a case determination. The employee may simply not have it, just as you indicate.

Many employee investigation cases involve one person's word against another rather than clear and convincing electronic, paper, or video evidence. In this situation, the investigator must professionally assess each party's credibility and make a determination. If you don't have proof of what you allege, then provide the following information to support your allegations:

- your employment background with the company to establish your foundational credibility (positive work record, length of service, etc.)

- the names of any witnesses to the conflict

- full and vivid details as to what happened

- submit any contemporaneous notes about the conflict or other communications like texts or emails you have

- your opinion of the complainant's motive and why.

Any investigator who says they cannot come to a conclusion because it's a merely he said/she said isn't doing their job. They just have to work harder to assess credibility and determine who is telling the more truthful account. You can email or discuss with the investigator that although you do not have incontrovertible video, electronic, or paper evidence proof, you DO have the following, and then list them. Be professional but firm and mention that you hope this will help them in assessing both parties' credibility.

Question: I filed a complaint against my manager for race-based discrimination and harassment. I gave the investigator documentation. It took 2 weeks for HR to respond, and that was after I sent a follow-up email. They found instances of me being treated unfairly, but the investigator never said the word "discrimination" or "harassment." She recommended having conversations with my manager to build trust and eventually work under her again. What should I do next?

Answer: Based on what I think you are saying here, the HR representative took two weeks to acknowledge your complaint, and this is not acceptable. Investigations may take that long to complete, but the investigator’s communication with you regarding the status of the complaint seems to have been lacking. You shouldn’t have had to remind the investigator about your complaint.

Additionally, you should have been told CLEARLY whether your allegation of race-based discrimination and harassment was substantiated or unsubstantiated. (I suspect it was unsubstantiated and they’re calling it a "management conduct issue" instead, meaning your boss treated you unfairly because of a factor other than race.) What you need to know is this: If your having being treated unfairly was NOT race-based discrimination or harassment, then WHY? What did the investigator find it was instead? Has the manager been reminded of the company's Equal Employment Opportunity policy including the prohibition against retaliation?

Finally, if the HR investigator is recommending that you initiate these trust-building conversations with your manager, I would hope that she would provide facilitation in those meetings. Simply telling you to go talk to your manager after finding that you’ve been treated unfairly by that manager is not solving anything. If it were me, I’d circle back with the HR investigator, asking for clarification and getting her to facilitate. That way she can help ensure the success of the conversation. She must have some kind of vision regarding what those “trust-building conversations” should look like.

Question: My wife was forced to clean communal restrooms at Ball State with naked male students in them. Her supervisor failed to provide a "restrooms closed sign" and would not discuss issues with the property/fraternity owner. He retaliated by firing my wife, stating, "Did you think you still have a job after your husband's complaint?" She recorded the conversations. His company has no HR department. A complaint has been filed with OSHA and the ACLU. What further steps can be we take?

Answer: What a doozy. There are a number of employment-related issues here. First, you don’t specify the nature and size of the company that employed your wife and what her job role was. (I’m also not clear on who YOU work for – the contractor, the university, the fraternity, the property owner, someone else, or have you been discharged?) These details make a difference.

Certain key employment laws do not necessarily extend to small organizations, so if your wife’s employer consisted of one guy who ran a cleaning service and hired a crew of a handful of people, then he likely falls into that category. If your wife’s routine job duties included cleaning/janitorial services, assigning this work to her is a lot different than assigning the work to an administrative employee whose job never includes cleaning duties whatsoever. It doesn’t necessarily excuse his behavior, however.

You say you made some type of previous complaint and that your wife recorded her supervisor admitting that her job termination was in retaliation for your complaint. Whatever agency or organization you made your complaint through, inform them immediately of your wife’s job termination and provide a written transcript of the recording, plus a copy of it. Make sure you retain your original. Be aware that in some states it is illegal to surreptitiously record another party without their consent, but as of this writing, Indiana is a one-party consent state. This means that in your state, only one party to a conversation (e.g., your wife) needs to consent to a conversation that is being recorded.

Your wife should file for unemployment with your state employment commission immediately. I’m assuming that she was an employee of the company that fired her, not an independent contractor. She might also consider contacting both the property owner and the university and filing a written complaint with them, preferably through an attorney if there were any inappropriate comments of other behavior that she had to endure during the process of cleaning the restroom with the naked male students, detail the information.

An attorney is your best bet. Make sure you know what you are seeking before you embark on this journey. For example, are you seeking her job back? Do you want to see the company lose its contract with the university or fraternity? Do you want a settlement and an apology?

Question: My boss has not submitted my quarterly commission pay for almost a full year. I contacted both him and HR several times. What are my options?

Answer: If you believe you have been unfairly denied commissions, then first gather the employment documents that govern your commission plan. These might include pay policies, employee handbook, and any employment agreement. You'll also want to collect your sales data (or whatever you should have been paid commissions on) so that you can make an argument as to how much you are owed.

Read and understand the documents, and if you still believe you are owed the commissions, file a written internal complaint with HR since you’ve previously tried to resolve the issue unsuccessfully through informal inquiry. Complain that your boss violated the [name the policy or document] by denying you sales commissions owed since [date] and request to be made whole. Consider complaining by email, and send your complaint to the director of HR. That will give you a date/time stamp. If HR insists that you are NOT entitled to the commissions, make sure you understand why. Request an explanation.

If you are still not satisfied, consider seeking legal advice and/or filing a wage and hour complaint with your state department of labor. Either way, you will need the documents you gathered, a copy of your complaint to HR and any responses, plus your sales data to support your claim of how much you are owed.

Question: Can my employer deny a doctor's note?

Answer: Employees who present notes from their doctors for absences may find that their employer either accepts the note, denies it, or verifies its legitimacy. Company policy often specifies rules such as:

- when a doctor's note is required (e.g., after three days, to return to work, etc.):

- what information needs to be on a doctor's note

- which form and format to be used

- who qualifies as a medical professional and

- due dates.

If the employee doesn't follow these guidelines, then the doctor's note may be denied. For example, I've seen employees incorrectly submit doctor's notes on prescription pad paper, unsigned or without all of the necessary information completed, or from a non-medical service provider such as a personal athletic trainer.

If your employer has denied your doctor's note, ask why rather than assuming the worst. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't believe you saw the doctor that day. (If they believe you falsified the document they'd probably go after you for workplace fraud.) Instead, simply ask what's wrong with the note provided. I'm betting it's a technical issue like one of those listed above. They very well may let you submit another one as a replacement.

Question: Can I trust HR about a drug addiction?

Answer: If you have a current (rather than past) addiction to illegal drugs, know that the chief priority is health, however in getting into drug rehab or seeing a drug counselor, be careful about disclosing too much to your company's HR representative. You want to maintain your employee benefits and protect your job. (Employees with current drug addictions are not considered disabled whereas recovering addicts are considered disabled and thus enjoy the protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.)

Ideally, work through your company nurse or medical department if this department exists for your employer, or if you must work with HR, then work exclusively with the individual who handles employee leaves of absence. You or someone who cares for you will need to work with your insurance to get you into a rehab facility and arrange for a company medical leave of absence to verify you are qualified for this.

It's fine to ask HR general questions about a medical leave (Family and Medical Leave of Absence or FMLA and Short Term Disability Leave and whether you meet the criteria). You DON'T have to tell an HR rep that it is drug-related -- it could be a hernia surgery for all they know and either way, it's none of their business. Any medical leave will require authorization forms that a doctor will have to sign and return, and this is normal. These forms are confidential and all medical information should be kept totally separate from your personnel file. Expect to be drug tested before being released to return to work from your leave.

Please understand that you are not the first and not the last person to have a drug addiction although you may feel alone. Your first priority is your health but also you owe it to your coworkers and others you interact with not to work in an altered state. Think of their health and safety working alongside an addict.

GET HELP TODAY by taking that first step. You can do this, friend.

Question: I filed a harassment claim with my employer because another employer made false allegations against me. She alleged that I pushed her, bumped into her, and laughed in her face in a room full of people. This situation has affected my mental and physical health. Since I’ve filed the case, I have emailed HR and my supervisor on the status of the case. They have only stated that they will investigate. HR doesn’t respond. What other steps should I take? Do I need to seek legal advice?

Answer: You should expect that your case will be investigated within a reasonable amount of time, but "reasonable" is not a specific period. Look at the company policy to see if it specifies a time frame for investigating complaints. Why not go by the HR office in person rather than email them? If that is not possible, then call them or talk to your supervisor. You can, of course, hire an attorney to advise you, especially if you believe the employee's allegations may lead to discipline or discharge from employment.

Question: Can HR take vacation time away because I was on short-term disability (STD) for one month?

Answer: The U.S. Department of Labor has ruled that employers may provide vacation time and then later require that it be taken in a specific way or on a specific day. Thus, some employers have policies regarding their employees using up any paid time off (e.g., vacation) before getting paid for short-term disability. Check your company's written leave of absence policy. Also, don't hesitate to ask your HR representative for an explanation for WHY this was done this way. ("Can you help me understand why the company required me to use all of my vacation time? I'm concerned because ... [then fill in the blank].")

Question: Is HR allowed to divulge the name of the complainant to the person the complaint is against?

Answer: While experienced HR representatives typically try not to divulge the complainant to the person complained against (PCA) during a workplace investigation, it often becomes apparent from the line of questioning. (That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't report wrongdoing!)

What people don't realize is that sometimes the identity of the actual complainant is surprising. For example, if sexually harassing comments were allegedly made by Person A to Person B in front of three witnesses, the complainant could be the person receiving the allegedly harassing comments, any of the witnesses, or anyone who was told about the incident. What a complaint is, is a suspected violation of company policy and/or the law.

Remember that you shouldn't be retaliated against for making a complaint in good faith. Therefore, technically, it shouldn't matter if the PCA knows the identity of the complainant. If you are at all concerned about how your company approaches this, ask general process questions before saying that you have a complaint.

Question: Can HR refuse to provide me with the action on a complaint I made?

Answer: It's important for HR to respect the personal privacy of ALL parties in an investigation and maintain confidentiality regarding disciplinary matters or personnel actions to the extent that it is practical and appropriate. Thus, you may never know the outcome of an investigation beyond that "the matter was appropriately handled."

Some personnel actions may be obvious to you. For example, the person complained about (PCA) is discharged from their job, demoted, or transferred to a different department. Other serious personnel actions may not be obvious to you. You'd have no idea they took place. These might include a cut in pay, loss of a bonus or other form of compensation, formal write up to the PCA's personnel file, a coaching or counseling session with upper management or HR, or remedial training.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't be alert or concerned. If the offending behavior repeats itself, certainly report it again because the action wasn't sufficient.

Question: I was suspended with pay after my HR director made a complaint of intimidation against me. That was over three years ago, and I have not been interviewed by the company yet. The HR Director is no longer working for the company. Can the investigation continue without them? If the complaint was found to be malicious, then how can the company follow up since the complainant is gone?

Answer: Are you saying that three years ago you were suspended with pay pending results of a company investigation, and you were never called back to work? (That would be truly outrageous.) Or, instead, have you returned to work and the investigation was just never completed, to your knowledge? (Consider returning to work as a signal that someone dropped the ball in communicating back to you that the investigation was over.)

Either way, it's a troublesome situation because employees like you are entitled to a neutral and timely investigation, and they should know when the investigation has concluded. Three years is not timely in anyone's book. I suspect the Company just didn't communicate results back to you, but you need to know the outcome of the complaint ASAP and be brought back to work if you're still on paid leave. Start the process of asking questions with your management. Tell him/her that you are confused about where the complaint against you currently stands and you would like an update on its status. (Ideally, you'll want to hear that the investigation was CLOSED on xx date and the matter was UNSUBSTANTIATED.)

To answer your general question about whether an investigation can be conducted when a complainant like the HR Director is no longer employed: Yes. The company has to do the best it can in investigating the case with the information and resources it has available. The case wouldn't necessarily be dropped. The rationale is that the person complained against is still employed and is alleged to have committed wrongdoing; if guilty, they could continue to commit wrongdoing.

I suspect there some key facts you're not aware of that would make this whole situation much clearer (e.g., performance or stress-related issues with the HR Director). Whatever the case, I wish you the best on resolving the issue and working happily and productively in the years to come.

Question: Can I be fired for making a complaint to human resources?

Answer: You're asking whether you can legally be retaliated against for raising an employment concern in good faith. As much as I'd like to be able to tell you it would never happen, the reality is that unethical employers sometimes do retaliate illegally. It's therefore important to know whether you are covered by any anti-retaliation policies and laws for your workplace, jurisdiction, and the issue that you're complaining about.

Here are a couple of things to consider:

Large employers typically have important anti-retaliation language embedded in specific company policies. Therefore, the first place to check would be your company policy manual, intranet/portal, etc.. Read, understand, and save a copy of relevant company policies. If your employer has no workplace policies, that's a big ole red flag.

The second place to check would be your employer's labor law postings bulletin board. It's typically located in locations easily accessible to all employees as well as applicants, such as in the HR front office. You may learn that you have rights you didn't know you had by simply reading this bulletin board. People overlook this resource, but it's important.

The size of your employer determines whether you are covered by certain federal and state employment laws; some laws pertain to employers with 15 or more employees, others laws to employers with 50 or more workers, for example. Therefore, the issue that you are complaining about matters. People who work for small businesses are often sorely disappointed to discover how employer size negatively impacts their rights.

It's also assumed that you're making the complaint in good faith because you genuinely believe it to be a problem rather than you simply want to be a nuisance.

If you are concerned about being fired, you may want to consult an employment attorney in your jurisdiction about your specific complaint.

Question: I’m considering submitting a complaint against a coworker. This coworker is maligning my work ethic, is rude and disrespectful to me, yells and makes demands, embarrasses me in front of coworkers and patients, and has created a problem with an employee from the office next-door who is the same race as mine. The coworker has caused a problem in my work performance and in my personal life, and I have considered therapy. Should I go to HR?

Answer: You mention that part of the problem with this coworker has to do with race. Particularly if you believe that race is the motivating factor for this coworker treating you this way, you should complain to HR. Make it clear WHY you believe race is the rationale behind the poor treatment. Examples include the coworker making negative comments about your race, name-calling, race-based jokes or displaying racially-offensive symbols.

Even if you don't believe race is the motivating factor, it's best to try to solve the problem now before it escalates. Patients are affected and your job performance as a health care provider is impacted. The problem needs to be solved. If the situation is concerning you this much, I'd also recommend contacting your employer's Employee Assistance Program to talk to a counselor.

Question: If I confronted my workplace bully anonymously by email, can I be fired for that?

Answer: If you want to err on the side of caution, tell absolutely no one because your secret will get around. Also, take another look at your email message just to verify that it didn't contain

1) any direct or indirect threats (e.g., violence, unspecified revenge) or

2) identifying details about your conflict.

Although "anonymous" emails can often be traced, you may have used an email address service that did not log your IP address. However, even if you used Gmail or another service that logs your IP address, if you didn't threaten anyone or violate any company policy (like using Company computer resources inappropriately), I would be surprised if the investigator goes to the trouble of trying to have it traced.

Be prepared that you may be asked point-blank by a manager, HR, or others whether you sent it or whether you know who did. It's up to you whether you admit it or not, but it might be an opportunity for you to tell your story of being bullied.

You're probably just giving your bully more power over you by working yourself up with worries. Relax a little. What's done is done at this point, so concentrate on being calm so your nervousness doesn't give you away. I'm sorry you were bullied. (By the way, I've also heard of people sending a book such as "No Asshole Rule" to their bully with a note that "this is you.")

Question: I complained to HR about an individual who works at our college, and they requested a signed paper from everyone with the details about our issues with him. HR showed this paper to the person complained about, and now he is threatening us because he knows our names! Is it legal for HR to show him this paper?

Answer: You didn't say whether you're a fellow employee or a student or what the specific issue you're complaining about is (e.g., harassment, theft). HR should have done a better job protecting your confidentiality. They should have outlined the process in advance and whether your names would EVER be divulged.

Typically, it IS a possibility that the complainant may become known to the PCA even if HR doesn't tell them. For example, if an alleged incident involves only two people, the PCA and the complainant, it's pure logic to figure out who's probably complaining. Showing the PCA a copy of the complaint, however, seems like the lazy way out. I'd ask the investigator why they did that. My experience is that investigators use written complaints to simply formulate investigation questions.

Now that HR has divulged your name, your concerns are both the retaliatory threats AND the original complaint. Go back to HR and tell them that you are being retaliated against. Be specific and tell them exactly what the PCA said or did to retaliate, giving times, dates, witnesses, and any copies of documents, texts, voicemails he left, etc. HR should have advised both you and the PCA of non-retaliation at the time they originally talked with you. If they didn't, ask whether you have the right to not be retaliated against? Request a copy of the policy that says that. Ask why they didn't tell you about your rights not to be retaliated against earlier, before the retaliation happened? Also ask whether they told HIM about the expectation that he not retaliate against you.

If you believe this is an issue of safety--for example, he made specific threats of violence towards you--DO NOT WAIT to contact HR but rather contact the police and/or campus police to notify them. Your safety comes first.

Question: What should I do if I found out that there is a serious personal reason a General Manager tries to discreetly bully an Assistant Manager?

Answer: I wish you had shared more about the details, such as what this "serious personal reason" is, how you found out, the nature and extent of the bullying, and your relationship to the two people involved (relative, coworker, customer, direct report, friend). Regardless, if you are concerned, then you have an ethical and moral duty to speak up and try to stop the bullying from progressing further.

Some companies' policies state that employees must report non-compliance with company policies. Additionally, if you are a member of management and this involves sexual harassment or harassment based on another legally-protected factor, you have an obligation under the law as an agent of the company to report the misconduct. Even if it doesn't involve a legally protected factor, think about what you'd want if you were in the Assistant Manager's shoes.

If the Assistant Manager can't or won't speak up for him or herself, then you can report the misconduct to HR, upper-level management above the GM, or anonymously via a letter, but be specific in your claims. You might tell the Assistant Manager that if they don't report the behavior by (give a date), then you will. (Today the Assistant Manager is the victim, but tomorrow it could be you or anyone else.)

When reporting the issue, describe the offending behavior and when/where it occurs, who is the target, why they are targeted, how long it's gone on, what the impact is to the individual and the group, who knows about it and what has been done (or not). The chances are that this is not the first time this General Manager has been complained about. If this is a safety issue, be sure to highlight that.

Question: I am the subject of a misconduct investigation and have requested copies of evidentiary finding and procedure documents. However, my request was denied. Can they do that?

Answer: Although you can make the request, I would be surprised if the company actually provided you copies of that. Companies usually try to assert that this is "Company Confidential." However, there are some states that may allow you to have access to it. It's important to know your state law on access to personnel files. Here's a link to a legal website that reviews state laws:

Even if you are not allowed access, you can ask for a verbal explanation, saying you don't understand what the company based their investigation on and how they came to their result. Write down what they said directly after you leave the conversation.

Question: During a workplace investigation, the HR investigator failed to tell me to refrain from speaking to any coworkers. At the next investigation meeting, I was told sorry, we (HR) forgot to tell you and then noted that I had spoken to 3 coworkers. Is the evidence still usable?

Answer: First, shame on the HR rep for not having an introductory script or protocol that checks certain boxes, including a caution about retaliation, refraining from talking to anyone else about the investigation (IF that's appropriate in your case), describing the investigation process for you, etc. At least they were honest and acknowledged not telling you this.

Second, it's important to understand precisely why HR would want employees involved in investigations to avoid discussing the matter with coworkers and others. The purpose is to "seal" an investigation rather than complicate it further by bringing more and more people into it through hearsay, risk witness tampering, destruction and fabrication of evidence, collusion, etc. It's a method of resolving the case most efficiently.

Note, however, that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled in 2015 that (nonsupervisory) "employees have a ... right to discuss discipline or ongoing disciplinary investigations involving themselves or co-workers" unless there's a substantial business justification. Thus, I'm not sure whether the issue of confidentiality is appropriate in your case or not. Perhaps some clarifying questions are appropriate, especially since HR forgot to tell you at first. What's their compelling business reason? It cannot be a blanket policy that they require this with all investigations. I hope they have a well thought out rationale specific to your case.

Regarding your question about whether the evidence is still "usable" -- yes. While HR shouldn't punish you for violating confidentiality if they didn't tell you not to talk to coworkers, the workplace is not a courtroom. The warning about confidentiality is not like Miranda rights. There's nothing wrong with the evidence against you unless someone colluded or destroyed evidence. That's a different matter.

Of course, you can always suggest names of coworkers or others as witnesses for an investigation if they have important information to offer. You may also remind the investigator politely that you wouldn't have talked to your coworkers had you known about the requirement for confidentiality.

Question: If you file complaint against a co-worker, can they turn round and then file one against you?

Answer: There's nothing stopping the Person Complained About (PCA) from making a counter-complaint, and an investigator would have to review their complaint like any other. However, their motive may prove a little iffy. An investigator may ask them to explain if this was such a concern, then why didn't they file this complaint before? Why did they wait until after a complaint was filed against them?

Don't worry about a counter-complaint. It's relatively common and usually a sign of retaliatory-type behavior where HR needs to be especially vigilant of cautioning the PCA not to retaliate.

Question: What would you do if an incident at work made you feel uncomfortable enough not to go back?

Answer: By uncomfortable, I'm unclear whether you believe your health/safety was in immediate jeopardy, your civil rights, or both. (Examples might include severe alleged harassment or threatened workplace violence.)

Here are several options that many people in your situation consider, along with their pros/cons:

1) If you simply don't show back up to work for three days no call/no show, usually companies consider this job abandonment, and it may be recorded as a discharge -- not good for your employment record, if this at all worries you. It may be hard to get unemployment, too, should you need it, and if you then try to file a complaint with a government agency such as the EEOC or state human rights board, they may very well deny it because you didn't go through the company's internal complaint channels. (This will depend on the circumstances of your case). Also, the company has no idea this happened, the person faces no consequences, and s/he can do this to others. Do you want them to get by with this behavior?

2) If you're worried about your immediate safety (such as a stalking situation), contact your local police first. Then contact your employer's HR department via phone or email to protect your employment status. Document all conversations. Also, notify your manager of your work absence so that you're covered from an employment standpoint; you don't have to provide details. Work with HR on call-in procedures and workplace logistics until the matter is investigated and remedied, particularly if the boss is involved. Your safety should be pre-eminent.

3) If you see a psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, psychiatrist, or even a family doctor, you could go out on a stress-related leave (short-term disability leave). Depending on your eligibility and what your employee benefits are, that could be up to six months. This option delays dealing with the conflict, but it gives you time to consider your next move. It also preserves your employment status with the company, takes you out of the situation long enough to de-traumatize, allows you the time to search for another job if that's what your decision is, and keeps some income coming in. You don't necessarily have to ever return to the job. You could quit when you get a final return-to-work date. Again, however, unless you report the issue, the company has no idea this happened and the person can do this to others. They probably have done it to others before you, right?

4) If you feel that the situation is severe and you can never return under any circumstances whatsoever, you could consult a lawyer to advise you on your complaint or negotiate your separation from the company. Lawyers can often get results when employees cannot. However, they can be expensive. The longer you've been employed and/or the more egregious the situation is, the more a person might consider this option.

5) Contact HR and make a formal complaint. Tell them you are *afraid* for your safety and fearful of returning to work. State exactly why. Name names, give all the details, cite policies as needed. Some employees have successfully negotiated separation agreements without an attorney (in which you get paid to go away but you have to keep your mouth shut about it). The alternative is that who knows? ... An investigation could result in the person who did this being fired.

6) If you don't have much invested in the job and don't want to deal with the matter extensively, simply walk away and at some point of your choosing write a letter detailing exactly why you had to walk away from your job. You might send it certified mail to the attention of the top executive, if this is your choice. Be prepared for a company representative to perhaps contact you, to hear nothing, or to receive a letter in return from the HR or legal department. You may never know how the matter was resolved. Alternatively, you could send the letter anonymously, but it would likely lend less credibility.

Question: How long does it take for HR to investigate an employee complaint and provide an answer?

Answer: HR has a duty to investigate the complaint in a timely manner, but there is no hard and fast rule what that means. At the outset of the case, ask what the timeline for investigation is, what the process is, and when the case should be finally resolved (substantiated or unsubstantiated). Make sure you also have contact information for the investigator and don't be afraid to periodically check-in to ask how the investigation is going. Ask for updates on when the matter should be resolved. If you're a complainant, it's okay to check in every week or two. Keep on them. Persons complained about may want to check in every couple of weeks just to see if they can clear their name; mention the stress it's causing you to have an open investigation hanging over your head. Witnesses have no right to know necessarily.

Question: If a complaint is filed against you does HR talk to you?

Answer: Typically, when a complaint is filed that alleges workplaces misconduct, an HR investigator will reach out to the person complained about to get their side of the story and to ask them questions.

Question: If I have a complaint of discrimination in the workplace, should I first complain to HR or the EEOC? What’s the difference between the two?

Answer: If you have an allegation of workplace discrimination, you first need to file a complaint using the company's defined complaint process. Usually, this means reporting the matter to the company’s Human Resources or Compliance department, a member of management, calling the Company's ethics line, etc. Your company should have a written investigation policy available and communicated to all employees.

Unless it's a unionized situation, employers typically deal directly with their workers during investigations rather than through an employee's attorney or other representative spokesperson/advocate. Although the HR investigator has an obligation to be a neutral, investigative fact-finder, he or she is usually also an employee of the company with all the positive and negative baggage that that implies. The HR investigator controls the process – who is interviewed, what is asked, the time it takes to investigate, communication of results back to you, etc.

Technically, the HR investigator is looking for violations of company POLICIES rather than the law per se. Your Company should have an EEO Policy, for example. Ideally, the Company then uses the results of the investigation to make changes so that discriminatory behavior no longer continues. This might include training, discipline for the offender up to and including discharge, job changes, etc.

In contrast, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is a federal government agency that investigates employment discrimination charges. Their role is to enforce federal LAWS prohibiting employment discrimination. Although you may consider them to be the "big guns" you should also understand that they are backlogged and s-l-o-w. On average, a charge of discrimination -- a complaint against one's employer -- takes about a year with the EEOC, although I've personally been aware of some that stretched out to about two-and-a-half.

A person who files with the EEOC can choose to interface directly with the Agency on the charge or hire an attorney do so for them (at their own expense, of course). The complaint is administrative in nature, meaning this is not a trial. However, if you want to sue your employer for discrimination you MUST first file a charge with the EEOC. Most EEOC investigators don’t re-investigate the case by visiting the worksite and interviewing witnesses. Instead, EEOC investigators review submitted documents and resolve “sticky” questions via phone interviews with Company representatives.

The EEOC on some occasions chooses to take a complainant’s case on and sue the employer. This is rare, obviously. Alternatively, the EEOC can issue a right to sue letter so that the complainant can sue the employer, or they may mediate a case, if parties are willing. Note that there’s a variety of potential solutions depending on the type of discrimination at issue, including but not limited to monetary penalties, job reinstatement, and promotion.

Other points that you need to be aware of include the following:

• Some states, cities, and local jurisdictions have anti-discrimination laws that go beyond federal protections, thus workers find it helpful to file with both the EEOC and the Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA).

• Not all federal anti-discrimination laws apply to small businesses (although state laws may apply – always check your specific jurisdiction). Here is the EEOC’s listing of which federal anti-discrimination laws apply to which businesses based on their number of employees:

• There are strict filing deadlines.

Does all of this sound complicated? You betcha! However, it shouldn’t dissuade you from seeking justice for yourself.

Question: When a harassment complaint is filed, does HR have to keep identifying information of the complainant confidential? If the complainant specifically asked not to be identified to the person complained about, will this be honored? I was told in my follow up that they immediately told the accused my name and verbatim complaints.

Answer: The quality and trustworthiness of HR representatives vary significantly, as do company practices for handling complaints. What you have is a process question, so take a look at your company policy for investigating complaints to see if it sheds light on how complaints "should" be investigated in your company from a confidentiality standpoint. (Smaller companies may not have such policies.) You also should be able to ask HR general process questions in the form of what-ifs before you register a complaint (or just because). Maybe you did that and weren't told accurate answers. Maybe HR can justify immediately sharing your complaint with the accused in this way?

It's my experience that professional HR representatives who honor neutrality wouldn't take the lazy way out and just vomit the name and verbatim complaints to the person complained about (PCA). Good HR representatives actually have an investigation interview, and based on the line of questioning, the PCA may or may not become aware of who likely filed the complaint or even what the complaint was about specifically. Employees make assumptions about a complainant's identity and are often WRONG. However, when HR TELLS them outright, they're unwittingly paving the way for possible retaliation claims.

You might consider asking for a specific explanation regarding WHY HR immediately went directly to the accused in the way you described, particularly if you were explicitly told otherwise earlier. Your expectations and trust were violated. If you felt you were lied to, you could potentially challenge the HR investigation itself by filing a complaint against the investigator. Yes, people do that, but it's uncommon.

I'm sorry you had a bad investigation experience on top of whatever you were complaining about initially. That must feel like a double whammy.

Question: Can I withdraw my verbal complaint of harassment?

Answer: Once you make a verbal complaint of illegal harassment (harassment based on a protected factor such as race, sex, national origin, disability, etc.), typically Human Resources departments will not let you simply withdraw the complaint. (I assume you intend to stop any investigation.) The reason for this stance is that the company is legally obligated to investigate such a complaint, and now that you have reported it, they must proceed. Although you can try to withdraw the complaint, my experience is that withdrawing such a complaint is like unfiring a gun, can't be done.

Question: What happens at an appointment with HR when you are accused of something?

Answer: HR will tell you some initial information about why you are there. You may or may not be told of exactly what you're alleged to have done. They'll advise you of your rights and responsibilities regarding telling the truth, not retaliating, whether you can discuss the matter with others, and if so, with whom. They may also provide you a copy of important documents such as relevant policies (e.g., nonretaliation policy, investigation policy, EEO policy, etc.).

You will then be interviewed and the HR investigator will typically take notes. (Do not take notes yourself, or ask before you do.) It's often a one-on-one meeting but not always. If you belong to a union, your union steward will obviously be there. Sometimes HR brings in other HR employees as witnesses or co-interviewers.

At the conclusion of the interview, you'll usually be reminded about nonretaliation and other responsibilities. If HR does not describe the investigation timeline/process or give you direction regarding whether you can return to your regular job and work as normal, ask. If you have information to offer in your own defense, by all means, do so. Also, be sure to get the name and contact information of the interviewer so you can follow up if needed.

Question: I raised a complaint to HR against my manager. According to HR, the case was already closed. HR said that the investigation result and any action taken against the manager is not allowed to be shared with the complainant. Is this correct? How would the complainant know if HR takes the necessary disciplinary action if the resolution was not shared with the complainant?

Answer: When HR completed its investigation, they should have let you know whether your allegations were substantiated or unsubstantiated. HR does not necessarily have to let you know what specific actions they took, if any, for reasons of privacy. However, if your allegations were substantiated, HR should at minimum tell you that the situation was handled appropriately.

Look at the company's policy on investigations and see if they outline their policy on investigations regarding closing out complaints. Through email, consider asking HR for clarity regarding whether your allegations were substantiated or unsubstantiated. You should have also been advised regarding non-retaliation.

Question: I've been employed with my company for 25 years and have had an excellent employment record with no prior complaints. How could the company fire me now?

Answer: While your lengthy employment with the company and lack of prior complaints against you certainly work in your favor, some workplace behaviors are so serious that they may warrant discharge even after 25 years. Based on my experience, some include:

• harassment based on sex, race, or another legally protected factor

• workplace violence, or threatening the safety and health of other employees

• theft or fraud

• lying, particularly to management or during workplace investigations

Companies handle these compliance violations differently so don’t assume that every company will automatically terminate the employment of every first-time offender. Also, don’t assume that these are the only reasons that someone with such a lengthy employment record will be discharged following a company investigation.

If you have concerns that you were discharged unfairly, you can try to appeal your discharge through the company first and then through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state human rights board. You may also think about filing an unemployment claim and talking to an attorney. If a union represents you, your first call will want to be your union steward to file an appeal.

Question: Is office gossip considered an HR issue?

Answer: You might consider requesting HR involvement in an office gossip situation if it's interfering with getting your work done, the graphic content of the rumors is making you feel uncomfortable (e.g., rumors are sexual in nature), if the rumors involve allegations of policy violations (e.g., harassment, theft, etc.), or you have already tried unsuccessfully to deal with the problem yourself (e.g., addressing it with your management). You can alert HR anonymously if you don't want to attach your name to the issue. Try to link your concern to a policy that's being violated.

Question: I submitted a grievance over two weeks ago, but have not heard back from HR. Should I follow up, or will it look like I'm pushy?

Answer: If you're part of a unionized workforce, there are established timetables for the company to respond, so check your collective bargaining agreement (union contract) or ask your union steward. I suspect, however, that's not your situation. In that case, you should first check your company's policy on employee complaints to see if they have a formal process and timetable for getting back to employees about complaints.

Two weeks seems like ample time, and even if HR is bogged down or currently looking into the matter, they should at least let you know they've received your complaint and will be getting back to you within some specified period. You deserve to know it's been received and is not in some black hole.

It's therefore not pushy to follow up on the status of your complaint. Try saying "I'm following up on the status of a complaint I filed two weeks ago." Be polite and professional, and document who you talk to and when.

Don't apologize for wanting to be respected as an employee. You have every right to be treated well by being heard and answered. Your HR needs to do its job and communicate.

Your second follow-up, if you do not hear anything after two additional weeks, should be via email and should include a review of the poor service and broken promises, dates, names, a copy of the complaint, and should be addressed to the HR manager or director.

Question: What can I do if HR displays favoritism during investigations?

Answer: This is a frequent concern. It is in everyone’s best interest, however, that HR does a thorough, unbiased, and neutral investigation, and it is HR’s role to do so. There could be potential legal jeopardy if they do not.

If HR favoritism is what you’re finding, however, then you have some options, but you need to be specific and detailed regarding your allegations of HR bias in investigations. Sorry, but basing it on a “hunch” won’t work. Instead, what specific behaviors or evidence are you basing your claims of bias on? Is the HR investigator a personal friend/social media friend/relative of the complainant? Was the investigation result predetermined without you giving your side (and how do you know that it was predetermined?) Did HR falsify documents?

You can make your complaint at any time

1) before your investigation starts (if there is a glaring conflict of interest, for example)

2) during your investigation (based on intolerable and unprofessional behavior of the investigator), or

3) after your HR investigator has wrapped up his or her investigation.

(Note that doing so after the complaint is decided, however, may make you look like you just didn’t like the result.)

Use your company’s procedures for filing a formal complaint. First take a look at your company’s HR policies to see if they have language that says they will provide a neutral, unbiased investigation (what they were supposed to give you). Reference your HR representative as having violated that policy in your complaint. Then lay out how they violated it.

Typical alternatives for filing a complaint include filing the complaint with your HR investigator’s manager, director, or VP; contacting the employee compliance/complaint line (if your company has one), and complaining through your management chain. Consider doing so in writing so you can document your complaint. HR tends to protect their own. Make sure you indicate that you want to file a formal complaint rather than simply complain.

Question: Is it appropriate for HR to read a letter of complaint out loud to another employee?

Answer: This, of course, depends on context. If this confidential complaint was shared in a gossipy way, then it's absolutely NOT appropriate. If it was shared in the context of an investigation, perhaps it may be appropriate. It depends on who that other employee was and what their relationship was to the investigator (friends, fellow investigator, or a person involved in the investigation as a witness/person complained about). Also critical is what the purpose was for sharing the information -- whether there was a need for the confidential information to be shared. For example, the investigator may have been read it aloud to his or her supervisor or to someone s/he was training. I'd be less inclined to excuse reading it to a witness or person complained about during an investigation. That's lazy and isn't really investigating.

I wish you had included more information about the circumstances surrounding the reading of this letter of complaint. I suspect that if you're hearing about this, you possess grave concerns about a violation of confidentiality. If that's the case, gather as many facts as you can and report the unprofessional behavior of the investigator to the HR Director or VP of HR. It would be even better if you could also cite a policy that the investigator violated. Some companies have policies about how they conduct investigations or handle workplace complaints and there are statements about HR maintaining confidentiality and only sharing the information based on a business need to know.

Question: I filled a complaint against my boss and requested a transfer, but it was not granted. I'm 66 years old. Can the company fire me?

Answer: Filing a complaint and requesting a transfer are two separate personnel issues and should be treated that way. The company should give you a legitimate reason for refusing your transfer, and they may or may not have that (e.g., no vacant positions, poor performance in your current role, you don't have the necessary qualifications for the role you seek, etc.) Of course, you may disagree with that reason, but they shouldn't cite your complaint as a reason for not transferring you.

Check your company's anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy, assuming they meet certain company size limitations and are thus obligated legally to abide by anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws for employees. (I'm assuming that if you're requesting a transfer, then you work for an employer of decent size.) Filing a complaint against your manager should NOT result in retaliation against you. Unfortunately, however, you may be stuck working for him/her while the investigation is ongoing. That happens frequently. If they're trying to make you go away, let it be YOUR choice. While you CAN theoretically be fired like anyone else, most HR representatives review such cases carefully when they involve 1) an older employee 2) who has previously filed a complaint and 3) has worked with the company for a long time. (Bonus points so to speak for having a disability -- perceived or real -- or for being female or minority.) This is your golden time, so do your job but don't let them push you around.

Question: My partner won’t go to HR about the sexual harassment she is putting up with in the workplace. Would I be able to call HR and inform them of this anonymously?

Answer: Although it is possible to write an anonymous letter or contact HR confidentially, this issue belongs to your partner rather than you. You'd be violating her trust by doing so. You'd be better served to support and empower her to report this herself. She has to deal with any consequences, investigation, and stress, not you. Your heart is totally in the right place, but she needs to tell this person to cut it out or report their behavior.

Question: Can I get the written disposition of my employee complaint?

Answer: If all you're wanting is a confirmation of case disposition (open/closed and substantiated/unsubstantiated) then simply email the investigator a request. You should say, for example, something along the lines of "For my records, can you provide me a written confirmation that the investigation has been closed and the matter was unsubstantiated?" A simple email back should suffice.

If you're asking about an internal report on the complaint, you also can request that from HR. They may or may not write that as a part of their investigation and they will probably resist giving that to you unless required by state law. There's no harm in asking for it, however.

Question: My new manager has stated that she wishes that California was an at-will employment state so that she could fire people at will. When we complain about the safety of workloads, she dismisses concerns. There is also a consensus among employees that she is low key racist because she hires and promotes Caucasians, and all disciplined employees except one are nonwhite. My hospitals' HR and compliance office are untrustworthy. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: You have several options available.

1) Make sure her direct manager is aware of the issue and give him or her a chance to address your concerns. The new manager sounds like she has may either have little management experience or she's unskilled with leading people. Once you alert her direct manager that there is a performance issue, then their failure to act means that that manager also becomes part of the problem.

2) Take these important safety and employee concerns to your union if you are currently unionized, and if you are not unionized, consider organizing.

3) Make an agreement among coworkers to litter HR and compliance with individual employee compliance complaints regarding race, safety, and other employee issues so that the trend will cause great concern among management. This is especially the case if it comes from a variety of employees, including those who have never complained before.

4) As a group, go to HR or to executive management to complain about her. Present a list of concerns. Your concern about "low key" racism may not be low key at all. Present a list of the last x number of hires and disciplines and their apparent races. (Please be aware that you don't know how someone self-identifies. You'd be really surprised sometimes!) Also list disciplines and apparent races, plus any examples of situations where minorities should have been disciplined but were not. You want to show a trend of different treatment based on race. Note that you must complain internally to a company before you go outside to a government agency like the EEOC.

5) Confront the new manager in a group setting using the data described above. It may jar her into changing her behavior.

6) Write an anonymous letter to the manager describing the impact of her crushing leadership style. Make sure not to threaten her.

7) If there are workers who get along with her or seem to understand how she works, talk with them to get some insight into how to address the issue with her.

8) Look for a transfer within the hospital or find another job altogether.

Question: Can I refuse to participate in a workplace investigation or "cancel" a complaint once I raise it?

Answer: Understand what a complaint is -- a good faith allegation that a company policy and/or the law has been broken. Examples include discrimination and harassment, wage and hour issues, fraud and theft, and health/safety/environmental issues. We say "allegation" because employees suspect there's a violation but may not have all of the facts or may not know how to apply the policy or law.

HR has a LEGAL DUTY to investigate such compliance matters on behalf of the company. Therefore, refusing to participate in an HR employment investigation may interfere with the company's obligations to uphold its legal responsibilities. Cooperation and truthfulness are usually expected and required of employees during investigations. You're starting to get into the territory of insubordination if you refuse to participate or are dishonest during the investigation.

For similar reasons, once you raise a complaint, you can't simply say "never mind" or "I take that back." HR has a duty to investigate and see it through. The desire to "unring the bell" is more frequent than you'd think.

Question: When an entire department lodges a formal complaint with HR regarding gross mismanagement can we expect HR to be on the side of employees against a newly hired, incompetent manager?

Answer: What you should expect from HR is a fair and neutral investigation, not favoritism.

Question: A coworker used the F word 5-6 times back to back. I spoke up through our cubicles and asked, "Do you have to be so loud, and do you have to be so vulgar all of the time?" For a moment she was silent, but then she and two other coworkers began to giggle, and she proceded to say, "I don't give a F***". I got up and walked over to her area and asked her the same questions. I was later suspended for confronting her! I was told by HR that it is never ok to confront a coworker. Is this legal?

Answer: This is just unbelievable. Unless you believe you’re being discriminated against on the basis of some illegal factor such as race, gender, etc., your HR doesn’t appear to have broken any laws. (However, I would want to know what company policy I violated and how. Also, I’d want to know should have been done instead? In addition, I’d want to know what the company plans to do to address the co-worker’s offensive cursing that must surely violate some company policy (find out which one and cite it). If you’re a salaried exempt employee there may be FLSA implications that your company didn’t think through when they suspended you.

Question: If someone in another department has shared with me all of the hostility and inappropriateness that is going on, should I share that with HR?

Answer: If the "hostility and inappropriateness" includes alleged behavior that violates company policy or the law (illegal racial or sexual harassment, for example), you probably should. You could also do it anonymously. Note that if you are a management employee and become aware of alleged misconduct of any type then you must notify HR; you do not have a choice because you are an agent of the company.

Question: I filed a harassment complaint against my supervisor. I have been told that it has been resolved and won’t happen again. My boss won’t look at me or speak to me unless he has no one else to ask. The rest of the office notices and now no one will speak to me. Is this considered retaliation?

Answer: Different treatment because you complained is what you are allegedly encountering. That's illegal retaliation. File a follow-up complaint and give specific details regarding who won't talk to you, specific dates and times this has happened, etc. Your HR rep didn't do a full job the first go-round in explaining at the conclusion of the investigation what the expectations were: no retaliation. He or she should have ideally given you both a copy of the Company policy in addition to verbally reviewing expectations. Tell HR that you're facing a department of pervasive hostility aimed squarely at you because of your complaint, engineered by your supervisor.

Question: I want to make a complaint against my District Manager, but I am not sure how to go about it. My District Manager is constantly critical, negative, unhelpful in training, etc. Should I write a complaint or move on?

Answer: As an employee, you have a right to receive adequate training and feedback so that you can perform your job. I'm wondering, however, whether you seek to complain about your manager's 1) skillfulness at training, 2) his/her brash management style, or 3) both? Be clear about what you're complaining about as well as what you're seeking from this complaint (e.g., to be listened to by HR and upper management? retraining? a transfer?).

HR likely will ask you what steps you've taken to address the issue with your manager directly, so be ready for that question. For example, have you discussed your feelings with him/her before complaining to HR? Have you objected to his/her tone of voice, suggested alternative approaches, asked him/her to give you specific examples of what you're not doing correctly, and/or requested that s/he demonstrate the correct way of performing an activity?

Describe in detail what proactive steps you and others have taken and what the (presumably failed) results have been. Be specific about the offensive behaviors your manager engages in, and describe the personal, team, customer, and overall business impacts. To make HR care about this, you have to show them how it's affecting you (and potentially others) NOW, and if not addressed how it will ultimately impact the bottom line negatively in the future. You're sounding an early warning bell regarding a manager who needs immediate attention. You can even tell them that.

I certainly don't want to dissuade an employee with a legitimate issue management style concern from complaining to HR. I just want you to be prepared so you can present your complaint most effectively. If the company fails to address the issue, at least you know where you stand having raised the issue, right?

Question: Can a supervisor inform an employee that you made a complaint and give them your name?

Answer: This is not the way an employee complaint system is supposed to work. Your supervisor risks setting you up for potential retaliation by your coworker. I would wonder what their motive is. Incompetence? Talk to your HR representative.

Question: I reported threatening behavior by a fellow employee who is the supervisor's uncle. The supervisor ignored my complaint, so I went to HR the next day to file a written complaint. Within 30 minutes, the supervisor wrote me up. I felt retaliated against and wasn't comfortable working with the employee. I expressed my concerns of retaliation to my supervisor, his supervisor, and to HR. Two weeks later, I was fired after he made a false claim I used profanity. What should I do?

Answer: File an unemployment claim with the state ASAP to keep the money coming in. You may have to go to an unemployment hearing if the company tries to deny you unemployment. I suspect they will. You do not have to hire a lawyer for this proceeding, although some people do. You can effectively represent yourself if you wish, but a lawyer can guide and assist you through a wrongful discharge claim if you seek to pursue it.

If you're part of a union or have access to an official method for appealing the job termination, file a grievance, some people write to the VP of HR and the CEO of the company to voice their complaint. Be specific about what the threatening behavior was, and mention dates, names, and details. Describe what company policies were violated by whom, who lied, and who were witnesses. Be aware that any such letter should be entered into evidence for an unemployment hearing and any subsequent legal proceedings.

You'll also need to look for a new job. Since the professionalism of the company is in question, I'd want to know what information is provided about an employee/former employee when checking references. A smart company should only verify dates worked and job title. What they say could potentially keep you from getting a new job.

Question: I had a conversation with a woman who visited my store through asset protection. They opened an investigation accusing me of stealing. Although I verbally told her one thing I was manipulated into writing another. We literally went back and forth because she was telling me what to write, and it wasn’t true. What can I do to fix this?

Answer: If you feel like you were manipulated into signing a false confession by an unscrupulous company investigator, then IMMEDIATELY file a complaint against her with your company and detail her precise behavior. Examples of behavior she might have exhibited include threats, saying that failing to confess will lead to even worse consequences, failing to listen to denials of guilt, dictating exact wording of a confession, and investigation interviews that last many hours.

Obviously, a person should never confess to something they did not do. You realize that now. Recant your confession ASAP in writing and tell the company that the investigator dictated the confession to you. Your complaint and withdrawal of your confession are both very important because usually company investigations involving theft or fraud are turned over to the POLICE for prosecution when they are concluded. Whatever you allegedly admitted to stealing in writing may be a matter for the courts if you don't act NOW. You'd be wise to seek counsel of an attorney.

Question: I made a complaint against my supervisor so they hired an external lawyer to handle the investigation. HR was in the room during my meeting. How can I participate in the investigation interview when I feel like I can’t trust HR in my company?

Answer: If there is a specific reason that you don't trust the HR person, then it's important to speak up immediately. For example, if the HR representative and your supervisor are personal friends if you complained to the HR rep but they did nothing about the complaint, if the HR rep violated your confidentiality by sharing the complaint with a person without the need to know, etc. However, if your reluctance stems from just a general distrust or discomfort with nothing specific to back it up, you may be hard-pressed to alter the way they do their investigation. You can still try by. Ask to talk privately with the investigator about the investigation process and surface your concerns.

Question: How long does corporate have to respond to a complaint by email and phone?

Answer: If you're referring to an initial allegation of misconduct, each company has its own process for investigating. However, my experience is that the first formal step after receiving an allegation is that the investigator assigned to the case typically reaches out to the complainant to acknowledge that the Company has received their complaint, advise them of their rights/responsibilities and the investigation process, and introduce themselves as the investigator. They also make arrangements for an investigation interview either in person or by phone.

You said you placed both an email and phone call to the Company. For future reference, during such phone calls, if you report allegations, usually it's a good idea to ask what the next steps are and the Company's time frame if HR doesn't offer that. That'll let you know what to expect. Unfortunately, that information was not offered to you, so you're left waiting and wondering, and it's understandably frustrating.

The company has the responsibility to do a fair, neutral, and prompt investigation. I assume you provided your contact information and have checked your voicemail messages and spam folders just in case. If you've heard nothing in a week of your email or phone call, forward your initial email complaint to whomever you initially contacted in HR and indicate that you are following up on your complaint of harassment, discrimination, fraud, or whatever the noncompliance issue is that was reported to them via the email below on xx date, since you have heard nothing from the Company. Also, mention that you made your complaint known to the Company via phone call on xx date, then reference who you talked to, their department, and that no follow-up from the Company has been provided to your complaint. Indicate that the complaint is important to you and you would like to see it investigated and resolved promptly. Give your contact information again.

Give them a few days to respond, then if you still have heard nothing, forward your email chain to the HR Director or person in charge of investigations. You want an email chain that shows the initial contact email and each follow-up email. Keep taking your complaint up the ladder until it's addressed. You might have to look at an organizational chart in doing this.

I'd like to think that the reason you haven't heard back is due to a simple, fixable mistake and that they're sorry, but this should run more smoothly.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 15, 2020:

astriks - Sure, you can mention it if you think it is related to your case. Good luck to you and your friend.

astriks on August 14, 2020:

thank u for your response.

my friend decided to transfer to a different department because of fear that he will have to watch his back all the time.

Can I still mention this incident to the HR as a related investigation?

Thanks again.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 13, 2020:

astriks - Rather than getting wrapped up in that, encourage your friend to simply state the facts and give the scenario as a possible motive for a false claim. If there is zero evidence backing up the claim against your friend, they have nothing to worry about. Mention the related case to your investigator and indicate retaliation and bullying as a concern.

astriks on August 13, 2020:

Hi, I complained about a misconduct and now the accused friend

complained the same thing to my friend.

Can this be considered retaliation?


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 09, 2020:

unnamed Wisconsin employee - Tell your friend that Wisconsin is an employment-at-will state, meaning that employers can discharge employees for any reason -- good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all -- as long as it's not for an illegal reason such as discrimination, for example, or it's not in violation of a specific contract (such as a labor contract). Complain immediately using the employer's procedures regarding wrongful termination and cite a violation of a specific employment policy. Often, employers have a policy that outlines how it lays off employees, how it manages performance, how it conducts investigations, etc. Which is your friend alleging wasn't followed? When complaining, reference a company's own policies/rules rather than a general sense of indignation. Also file for unemployment and reference wrongful termination, providing the same details. Good luck to your friend.

on August 07, 2020:

asking for someone i know who was recently let go for a performance problem as a excuse. She was later told by a friend whom was a co-worker before her termination. That the real reason why they are firing people are based off of "not enough desk space" and "anyone who has contacted HR for whatever reason for the past 6 months". What would be the correct course of action to take? Also, being in Wisconsin, i know a workplace is allowed by law to say that "x" person has been let go and is to not allowed back on the premises. But, what if that company also included on the accusation of termination as well?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 10, 2020:

Tricia - Don't overreact. If you didn't violate any work policies, then you have nothing to worry about. Tell legal that whatever allegations have been made against you, you hope that you'll have a chance to answer questions and present your perspective. Don't gossip, question co-workers or your boss, etc. The company is obliged to investigate the complaint even though you might believe it is preposterous. Be honest, forthright, factual, and full in your account when you have your interview.

Tricia on July 09, 2020:

I was called today by Human Resources and my manager stating I would not be on schedule that I had a complaint against me I asked what for I was told over and over we will do investigations and let you know I then called Human Resources to ask what am I being accused of and was told my Human Resources they are out of it it was in legal hands my god what could I have done for this

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 23, 2020:

Daniel - There's no need to counterfile because it seems like what you'd be complaining about is their filing the complaint and that's not harassment per se. However, since they allegedly told other employees that they are trying to get you fired, you need to be able to tell the investigator which employees were told this and exactly when and how you came to know about it. Be factual, write it all down. Let the investigator take it from there.

Daniel Pimms on March 23, 2020:

I have a complaint against me filed by a worker. I knew the complaint was coming because the worker told other employees they are trying to get me fired. Can I file a report against them for harassment . Or no because it looks like retaliation?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2020:

Shirley - Her threat to open a civil case is most likely just a bunch of hooey. Anything is possible, but I would ignore it as bluster.

Shirley on March 20, 2020:

Hi I complained about a coworker to our management. The complain was truthful. She is now threatening to open a civil case against me? is that possible?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 14, 2020:

kristina123 - Do only what you think is wise. Good luck.

kristina123 on March 12, 2020:

Thank you. I really appreciate it. I do not know who's advice should I listen to.

Finding this page/website made me more confident in what I am dealing with right now.

You will be blessed a thousand-fold

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 12, 2020:

kristina123 - No one really knows how another person will see the situation, especially because they will have a full set of details and context whereas I do not. However, two people complained about this coworker. HR either substantiated the complaint or they didn't. If someone files a follow-up complaint against this employee, then it suggests a pattern of troublesome behavior, plus a failure to appropriately manage issue. Unless the business conditions change or they want to retaliate against you, you should not have your transfer revoked.

kristina123 on March 12, 2020:

I was approved to be transferred to a different department with the same manager in a couple of months from now.

I complained about a co worker's behavioral misconduct to our manager recently. I am not the only one that complained nor I initiated it.

Despite the management's intervention, they continue to behave the same way.

My question is, what will be the HR's take on this, if I bring this to their attention? Is my upcoming transfer going to be an issue?

Thank You

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 10, 2020:

k123 - Thanks for your comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 09, 2020:

kristina123 - Report it to HR because now it's decidedly a failure to supervise issue, too, plus a potential safety and retaliation issue. Don't let this get worse.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 05, 2020:

Sudjadi - Regarding your two physical confrontations with your coworker and your company not taking the issues seriously, go to the company's policies regarding workplace violence and/or safety in the workplace. I assume that your coworker physically aggressed against you (and not the other way around)? Write the complaint up in vivid detail, including time, date, place, who saw, who did what, who was told, what they said/did. Reference a policy violation. Say that you fear for your safety and this behavior interferes with your work and the work of others. If the person made any threats against you, make sure to include those. Document any injuries with photographs and email the complaint to the HR manager. If the facts warrant it, report the individual to the local police and consider a restraining order. Good luck.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 26, 2019:

LisaEB - First, I am sorry about your breast cancer and encourage you to stay focused on what is MOST important in life: your health.

Second, on your job issue, alleged "ongoing incompetence and persistent neglect of duties" infers that this is a performance issue and thus has been going on a long time. As a result, your manager (assuming they are competent) should have gone through a process notifying you of the performance deficiencies and giving you a chance to attempt to fix them. If this did not happen, at the termination meeting or in an email before, tell HR that your manager has not notified you of performance management deficiencies and hasn’t provided job training.

If you are alleging discrimination based on your disability, gender, age, or any other legally protected factor, then do so at that time as well and be prepared to provide evidence to support your claim. (Note that someone who is an “equal opportunity a-hole” helps to seriously disqualify your manager, however, so beware of the statement.) Check out your company’s severance policy and see what it would stipulate for you. Don’t be afraid to negotiate for severance. Since you’re being fired and don’t want your job back regardless, what do you have to lose? Be sure you ask at the discharge meeting whether you are being fired for 1) performance or a violation of company policy; and 2) if it’s a policy, which specific one (and get a hard copy of it).

Regardless of whether you pursue any of these options, note that you owe it to yourself to file for unemployment in your state. The money will help you while you look for other employment and it will increase the employer’s insurance rating (i.e., it’ll cost them money). I hope this helps you.

LisaEB on November 25, 2019:

I was subject to meetings one stating -ongoing incompetence and persistent neglect of duties and investigatory meeting pending concerns regarding an anonymous complaint made about the program's process. The description of the concern clearly involved and "insider". The first meeting resulted in 2day suspension after initial counseling meeting with administrator (about 4 days & came from different administrator). Investigatory meeting notice was less than 24 hrs, was held in same day of notice. Investigation was based on complaint (that did not reference me specifically). Administrator asked a few questions based on visit from complaint & unannounced review, asked if i had anything to say (i respectfully did), ran down a list of "charges" of not yet substantiated findings from the review and then gave me notice of 2 week 2 suspension pending termination. I have only been w/ the org 2 years. 7months in i was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had surgery, endured months of treatment and still came to work because i felt it was my responsibility to learn the job since i had not worked in the program before. i never received specific training for my job responsibilities, lost staff that could help me, had a micro manager boss who threatened all during months of treatment with job performance...i felt bullied then and disrespected since. Never heard or given ample time to correct any concerns all the while handling other matter. I feel i am being wrongfully terminated. i don't want my job back, but i want these concerns to be noted and exposed. What should I do?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 24, 2019:

Eduardo - Thanks for sharing this disturbing and unfortunate account. Good luck to you, and I'm glad you have an attorney.

Eduardo on November 23, 2019:

I made a complaint about an executive making a racial slur and him being intoxacated in the workplace wich there were witnesses in both events but hr and uppermanagement are turning it around on me i did talk to an attorney and made it aware i had one and they offered me three weeks salary to quit or i could stop sreading gossip and respect and work for the regional who called me a fucking spic in front of other employees and uppermangaement and they want me to sign a memo agreeing that i will stop gossip wich i feel like it wasnt cause i wemt to management about this . They told me i coundt record and its there policy but my attorney said in this state i could record so i still recorded the conversation . I feel like this is retaliation and they just want me to take money and leave wich isnt fair because i got bills and holidays are coming up there is more like assistant managers tried to help me cause they know his actions and they put things in my file after i made compaint that wasnt there before wich i have it texted her saying this but she tried to stick up and they wrote her up any advice

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 10, 2019:

Victoria Cruz - You don't say what kind of complaint it was -- for example, a harassment/discrimination complaint, unprofessional conduct, etc. At minimum the HR Director apparently violated your trust and handled the issue poorly. However, she may also have set you up for retaliation, not to mention failed to solve the initial content of the complaint. See whether your company has a policy on how it handles complaints. Did she follow that policy? If not, you can file a complaint about how the HR director handled your initial complaint. If she's doing this to you, chances are, you are not alone.

Victoria Cruz on October 09, 2019:

I made a complaint against a colleague and asked to remain anonymous to my HR Generalist. The complaint was made aware to the Director of HR and then to the persons boss of whom the complaint was about. I didnt know the company wasnt going to perform an investigation, just assumed one would be performed because i made it clear that i could not prove my allegation, but was firm enough to have it recorded. The same day i was outed, the HR Generalist required us to "hash it out" in a mediated session. It did not go well. She was pissed and i was pissed and defensive. It was not productive and now we're in a position where i feel HR is the creator of a hostile work environment. I dont know what to the point my original claim is irrelevant...the poor handeling of my "anonymous" compliant is now the issue. Im in Texas. What can i do??

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 20, 2019:

Rina - Absolutely, ask again ASAP. This is money you're owed that you are losing. You're asking too low in the organization. Make a written request (i.e., this is a complaint) via email to the HR manager and describe your problem. Be professional but straight forward. Include names of who you dealt with in HR, dates, other relevant facts, and a link or copy of pertinent documents (e.g., the company's policy on paid time off). Request that the company remedy the mistake to your PTO immediately and just as importantly, request to be made whole (as if the mistake never happened). If you don't get results, go higher and don't give up. Use email to track all communications on this issue. If you do not get results within the company, make a complaint to your state's wage and hour division.

Rina Bipindo from Irvine, CA on September 19, 2019:

I informed HR 2 times to updated my PTO based on length of service. I have been working with the company for 12 years,since 2018 my PTO never been updated. According to company policy, length of service 10+ should have 240/year (or at least 8 hrs/paycheck). I asked 3 full time employee who have been working there for 10+ at least get 8hrs/paycheck. I only get 6hrs and never been change since 2 years ago. 4 weeks after report, still has no respond from HR. Should I ask for the 3rd time?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 12, 2019:

Yashia Houston - Usually there are multiple channels for reporting an employee complaint, such as HR or Compliance, any member of management, the Company's Compliance Officer, etc. See if your company has a policy on Employee Investigations that describes the complaint/grievance procedure. If you haven't gotten what you need from HR, go higher in the chain to a director or VP. Alternatively, you can try to report the issue to your management and ask them to advocate for you. Obviously, if are a union-represented employee, then you'll need to go instead to your union steward.

Submit your complaint in writing and email it so there is a record. Succinctly describe the behaviors the offending employee has engaged in (dates, who was involved, witnesses, what happened, etc.) and cite the policy you believe she is violating/has violated. For example, if you believe she is treating you differently because of your race, then cite the company's Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. (Read and understand the relevant policies and use the name your company calls the appropriate policies.) Persist and be heard.

YAshia Houston on August 12, 2019:

I have complained and also filed a grievance against an employee to my HR dpt. I do not feel comfortable working with this person. This has been going on for approx 2 months. We have to work close with one another i do have to reprt this to her. As long as there are people around she is pleasent, but if no one is around she gives me attitude thru her tone and body language. She tells other employees things about me. I've reported all this and nothing has changed. What should I do now?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 28, 2019:

Jessy Torres - He is taking advantage of your situation and the fact that the company hired you and other workers illegally without proper I-9 documentation. I don't know what state you're in, but I'm including two links that specify that wage and hour laws like the taking of breaks, for example, applies to BOTH documented and undocumented workers: and

Consider contacting Legal Aid which is free legal advice for people unable to afford it.

If you prefer not to take this route whatsoever, you can get another job, but that's difficult to do, as you know. If the Company denies you breaks and fires employees in retaliation for complaining, my concern is that they'll do other things to take advantage of you as well. I hope this helps.

Jessy Torres on May 26, 2019:

Hi... I have a Question I know a Company that is reducing all the 15 minutes Brake off of all employees... I know that the only unpaid Brake is the lunch Break... but this Company is unpaing every Brake and if anyone said something about it they get Fired or threatened to loose their Job if anything it’s talked about it... supervisor Trying to pick on any of females Workers and if she reports him she gets fired... people it’s scared about to lo loose their Job because most of them don’t have Legal Papers to work and that’s why they take advantage of their situation....

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 22, 2019:

David - It's unclear whether the complaint refers to comments you allegedly made regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, or both? Therefore, it would be a good idea to go into the interview clearer on a couple of issues:

1) Know the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. Briefly, sexual orientation refers to "patterns of emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction" and includes heterosexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality, as well as asexuality and non-binary categories (e.g., pansexuality). FYI, we used to refer to sexual orientation as "sexual preference," but now it's generally acknowledged this is not a choice. Gender identity refers to one's own sense of being male or female.

2) Know what your company EEO, anti-discrimination, and anti-harassment policies say. Do they specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity? While sexual orientation and gender identity are not currently federally protected statuses under Title VII they are protected by some state and local jurisdictions. (Check your employer's legal bulletin board or look up your jurisdiction's information online.) Also, key court decisions have ruled that gender identity and sexual orientation can be actionable as sex discrimination. Bottom line here: err on the side of taking it seriously, even though you are confident you didn't make the statements.

3) Know what type of LGBT-deragatory comments or behaviors are generally regarded as discriminatory. The EEOC lists some of these: Some of these examples may surprise you if you're not well versed in this area (i.e., if your employer has done a poor job in training employees). For example: repeatedly failing to use a transgender employee's name and gender pronoun.

Although yes, it is possible to lose one's job over a substantiated harassment allegation, you are confident you did not make the comments so you have nothing to worry about, right? Tell your side, provide names of witnesses to any conversations, and be calm and respectful throughout the process. And whatever you do, don't retaliate against the person who complained.

David on May 21, 2019:

Got an email about an eeo complaint against me. They were not clear if I am the witness or the actual person complaint filed towards. Meeting with me next week. Told me the complaint is about “gender orientation”. I am a physician and the complaint might be from a staff. I am not sure. I am 100% confident I am not such comments. I am worried. Can I loose my job?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 17, 2019:

Moya vill - Facts are important.

Moya vill on May 17, 2019:

Need to report but no facts on hand

Robert Sacchi on May 03, 2019:

Thank you.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 02, 2019:

Bob - Each state's eligibility for unemployment benefits varies somewhat but broadly speaking, you have to have become unemployed through no fault of your own (no misconduct violations or voluntary quits), you need to have earned a minimum amount in wages from the current employer before becoming unemployed (thus speaking to your length of time at the job issue), and you have to be available for work/actively seeking work. There are, of course, exceptions, so people need to check the specific guidelines in their particular state before they file their claim. They are easily available from the state employmentment commission (aka department of employment security).

Robert Sacchi on May 01, 2019:

Granted it varies from state to state. Could length of time at the job and whether the person quit the previous job to take the job they get terminated from affect how the unemployment office rules?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 01, 2019:

GITA - At this point, your employer has already terminated your employment, so consider filing for unemployment with your state employment office. State what you did above -- no training was provided, no coaching or counseling regarding necessary corrective action, just job discharge. You'll likely have an unemployment hearing. Make your employer defend their decision. Having to pay you for unemployment hurts them financially because they pay into an insurance fund based on an "experience rating" -- the more unemployment they have to pay, the higher their rates. Plus, if you are owed this as you say, then you have it coming.

GITA on April 30, 2019:

I was terminate for store condition when i never given any coach or retrain in any matter of results need to be corrected , no sit down one on one, can that be ground for termination with action plan, and one final warning?

No training from time to hire to termination on any results to be corrected

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 21, 2019:

help me plssss - To supplement your complaint, verify that your state is a one-party consent state to electronic eavesdropping (recording a conversation) AND check to see whether your company has a policy against recording employees. If you are okay under both, then secretly record the vile interaction or ask a coworker to video the interaction if they will do so. That will provide an example of what you are facing. In addition, if she is calling you names or using your race, sex, national origin, religion, age over 40, disability status, veteran status, or other legally protected status, then provide a detailed listing of what she did, when, who saw or heard it, and any other pertinent details. Make reference to specific company policies you believe she has violated. If you fear for your safety, specifically say why. Make sure you say why you think she is targeting you. Unfortunately, generic dislike is not illegal. Good luck to you.

help me plssss on April 21, 2019:

so my manger has been verbally harassing me and also threatened to fire me. insulted/belittled multiple times in front of customers and co workers. I am going to hr. but I do not want to lose my job. and my managers the type to discrimaet against me after she finds out about the complaint. I'm 100% sure this is illegal and I want that bitch fired

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 01, 2018:

Jane/Tia - There's so much content there. Why do you continue to work there? Isn't there somewhere else you can be successful and not have to put up with this garbage? This is the time to find another good paying job before we see another economic downturn. I don't know what the opportunities are in your area, and I wouldn't quit without another job, of course. You do what's right for you, but remember that this is not the only place to work.

If for some reason you think you need to stay in this extremely difficult environment with this terrible boss who is friends with HR and coworkers that you say do drugs, then I recommend distilling your complaint down to several policy-violation allegations. Number them 1,2,3 and make them crystal clear. Then write them down. For example, "I witnessed an apparent drug deal on company property in September in violation of the company Drug & Alcohol Policy. When I reported the matter to HR, it was not fully investigated, and I was later retaliated against." The big thing here is WHY you think your boss is treating you differently from other employees? Is it that he doesn't like you (a personality issue, for example)? Unfortunately, that is ok. Or instead, is it because of a reason that is protected by law and/or company policy (e.g., a protected factor such as sex, national origin, race, religion, disability, age, veteran, making a complaint, etc.)? Since your local HR person is buddies with your boss, one of your persons complained against, contact your corporate ethics line or district HR representative to complain.

Jane on November 30, 2018:

Since about April of last year, my boss has continued to harass me at work. It started when he called a meeting and made every person in the room tell him that we knew our jobs better than him. A few days later I was talking with a co-worker about what had happened. My bosses girlfriend (who is his bosses secretary) overheard this conversation and told him about it. He immediately revoked my early shift and was offish to me. (I was working an early shift because the noise levels in the office are very loud and it makes it very hard to get work done, stressful environment). Two other people on the team had/has special shifts as well. His excuse why he pulled the shift was that there was not a business need. Yet, a guy had a late shift, and there was not a business need for that. My boss Kayode is friends with a guy in the warehouse who I am pretty sure sells marijuana. I saw another employee give money to the warehouse guy; Corey in a covert way. Corey has a “gangster” type persona. Although I did not see any direct exchange between my boss Kayode and Corey but had a feeling they had dealings with each other I made a report to HR telling them what I thought, nothing happened (if they drug tested half the employees would be gone). In February, every employee does a survey and ranks how their manager is doing, I rated him based on how I felt he was as a manager (not very good) this survey is supposed to be anonymous, and he figured out it was me who rated him poorly and again continued to be offish to me. The employee handbook states that he cannot retaliate against me or probe employees on why they rated them a certain way. We had at least 5 meeting where he continued to force me to explain my reasons for the ratings. At one point I was so frustrated because he kept harassing me and raising his voice, I asked to be excused and went to the bathroom. Because of all that I was written up on ‘misconduct’. He constantly takes my co-workers aside and interrogates them if I am talking about him, which is building a hostile environment because people are very uptight and stressed out all the time. He is always gone takes extra-long lunches (2 hours) and then tells us it is not our business where he is and he doesn’t have to explain himself to us. His girlfriend is always eavesdropping and telling him things that “we are saying” which half the time it is not true. He has a friendship with HR and plays softball with her husband and his girlfriend is always talking Spanish with HR especially when other are around – ethic problem? When the hurricane was here and we had to evacuate, he and his girlfriend left work a day before anyone else on the team and they were gone for about a week, he abandoned his team during crisis. During my employee review, he scored me low because of ‘attendance’, ‘conduct’, and not completing work. My attendance was pretty good, other than the early shift sometimes I would come in late, because I always got the work done and didn’t think it mattered. Also, because of the hostile environment, stress, and anxiety it was hard to face him every day. Not completing work was a lie, I did complete the work but he was saying that I missed parts, which I did not and co-workers will vouch for that. Plus, if he said he does not have to learn our jobs, how can he honestly know what I completed and what I did not? A co-worker is deaf in his ear and he made some complaints about the noise levels. My boss said to him “you need to check into yourself to figure out what is wrong with you, that you have a problem with the noise”. The most recent event took place on 10/13/2017, a week before the entire company received an email about an offsite meeting, most of the team was interested and wanted to go, our boss only let one person go (his favorite). When asked why no one else could go – because we all received an invite he got very angry and went on a tirade about how he does not have to explain himself to us for about 30 minutes. Then he went off about when he is away from his desk it is no one’s business (no one even brought that up) for about another 20 minutes. The next day, he took each one of my co-workers (not me and my ‘friend’ but everyone else) outside to interrogate them. Another co-worker (who was interrogated) walked up to me and asked me if I will go outside and talk with him. I said ‘okay, but I haven’t done anything wrong’, he said ‘I know let’s just go outside and talk’. He told me that our boss wants him to write an email explaining what issues Will and I have with our boss. I said that I do not have any issues other than he is lazy, late, etc but you agree and already know that. He said I know but he is pressuring me to send this email and I have to send it to HR and Operations manager. I said “ I never said anything at the meeting, it was Will that asked the questions, so I do not understand why we are here’. He said “Tia we both know he wants you gone and he is really pushing for this email’. As he said that our boss walks up very angry and said ‘you both are on the clock get back inside now’. Alex said “You told me to find out what issues Tia and Will had so I could write that email”. He got even more mad and said “I did not give you permission to bring Tia out here to tell her everything.” I then said, “he is not telling me anything, he was asking what issues I have.” He was red-faced and told us to get back to the office right now. As we were approaching the front door he told Alex to stay back – I went inside back to work. About 35-45 minutes later Alex comes back in by himself and his face was red (mad or crying) and ignored everyone who talked to him including me (which is very unlike him). I sent him a text asking if everything was okay and he ignored me again. About 20 minutes before lunch I was called into the HR office with my boss, and was interrogated about why I am saying things about him (which I did not say anything). HR and him continued to gang up on me accusing me of saying bad things. Finally the interrogation stopped and I went to lunch. I later found out the reason Alex was so upset was our boss told him to stop talking to me because I will accuse Alex of sexual harassment. He was coercing/blackmailing Alex into writing that email. A couple of days later, our boss was forcing everyone to send him our work (when he never did that before) but he started to do so when complete. The project I was working on was not complete so I did not send it to him. That morning he came up to my desk and leaning close to me told me in a very intimidating way to send him my work. I asked him nicely to please stop harassing and trying to intimidate me and I will send him the work. He got mad and started pacing back and forth and went into his bosses office. When I got back from lunch I was put on a paid suspension (at the time I didn’t know for how long but 3 weeks and 1 week was a pre-planned vacation). During that time no one attempted to contact me until the day before they wanted me to return 11/16/2017, they did remove my previous write-ups. In my absence, they hired Kayode’s girlfriend’s sister (who lives with them) that is cronyism. Since I have been back he is continually being passive aggressive scheduled my breaks (when we never had scheduled breaks before and are the only department that does now) so that I am not with my team and has me doing entry-level work as a form of punishment despite the team being behind. Twice he has followed me outside when I take my break and constantly looks at his watch trying to intimidate me.

There are other instances of him being aggressive to other employees to which he has violated the employee handbook on numerous occasions and yet he is still allowed to work there. It was brought to light that while he lived in Connecticut he was arrested for throwing a bottle at a car and pulling a gun in a road rage incident, the guy Kayode Modeste has a serious anger problem.

I have notes and recordings of some of these instances, I would like to know if there is a case against him or my employer FedEx.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 13, 2018:

Emily - There has to be a lot more to the story because it just sounds really spotty. Take a look at the attendance, grievance, and discipline policies and see if they are following them. Find out what you're really being suspended for if not for attendance. Can you prove compliance with the attendance policy with timecards or other evidence?

Emily on November 12, 2018:

So, I was suspended for attendance(I don't have an attendance issue) I was never served the suspension paperwork(never given a write up) I was pulled in one day and told I would be suspended in the future for 3 days, with no pay. I have now grieved the issue and HR for the negligence. My company is not union, should my HR manager be addressing the grievance even though it is against her actions? (there is a lot more to the issue, but this is the jest of it)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 23, 2018:

Lola - It's suspicious that the investigation didn't include an interview with you, the person complained about (PCA). File for unemployment with the state, as you should learn more about exactly why you were fired and their decision during unemployment proceedings. You might also consider contacting an attorney to review your case, filing an appeal of your termination with your former employer, and filing an EEOC claim although I'll caution you that it could take years to resolve that.

Lola on October 23, 2018:

I got administrative leave with pay for accussations of discrimination and code of conduct, HR did an internal investigation with SOME coworkers almost 3 weeks later they fired me after 13 years.. and didnt get a chance to defend myself or even talk. Asked for the 40 page investigation result that hr told me they got have not receive it!! Can i just get fired just like that!!!!!!!??????

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 18, 2018:

Margarita - Your situation is sad, but this is not an HR issue. HR involves workplace investigations. You are talking about Child Protective Services with your state government. I wish the child well.

Margarita on October 18, 2018:

Why if a person have a felony for

Domestic violence 3

child endangerment

Wrecles endangerment have a machete and they come and get the baby at her grandma's house and place the baby with some stranger person and when you figure the baby back to the mother after the felony the committee hello what can of Dhr worker is that my opinion is what can the law enforcement is this are y'all serious They need to do something about this human resources in guntersville Alabama play dirty puting the child and danger I'm so sad and upset y'all need investigation this folks


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 07, 2018:

Rhonda - Will your boss let you see the signed statements since they seem to be so important? If not, will she share with you what the signed statements are about? Is there an inappropriate relationship of any kind motivating the favoritism or a policy violation you need to alert the company to?

If you are unable to resolve an ongoing conflict with your manager, you can go to his or her manager or to HR and ask for help with solving the problem. Or, you can go to HR to file an employee complaint.

You need to decide whether you want to approach the issue from a complaint perspective or productive, problem-solving perspective. A lot of that depends on the specifics of what's going on. If you're deciding on the complaint route, know the solution you're seeking, the rule or policy that you're alleging was violated and by whom, and have your facts lined up, including an alleged motive for mistreating you.

If you're going a problem-solving route, ask for assistance in creating a better work environment and lay out the communication, relationship, and leadership issues that currently exist and any unsuccessful attempts to solve them.

Rhonda on September 07, 2018:

Hi I have had problems with a co worker for several months, being rude, disrespectful, and telling me how to do my job, also telling my boss when I make mistakes. My boss also has favoritism issues with this person as well as one other coworker in my department. I have talked to my boss several times about this situation and the same things continue. I have not gone to HR as I am trying to not make a big deal about this. But unfortunately gossip has gotten around about me and the coworker and my boss is unhappy with me and has talked to everyone in my department and has stated she has signed statements of some sort. I am contiplating seeking HR help at this point. What do u recommend?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 02, 2018:

Rodney - It shouldn't because that would be retaliation.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 26, 2018:

Neutered Manager - Unfortunately, you are the recipient of guilt by perception -- the perception that enough unsubstantiated complaints should equate to an assumption that you have a management or interpersonal style prompting others to respond to you in this way. This obviously is frustrating. The company seems to be placing responsibility on you in a "where there's smoke, there's fire" manner. It would be helpful if HR could indicate what behaviors of yours are allegedly troublesome so that you could change them. Try having an open conversation with HR for your personal and professional development as well as your peace of mind. Be respectful but express your disappointment and fears about your future career path with the company. They SHOULD be able to tell you what behaviors you need to work on. Be open to any feedback and don't go in angry although I'm sure you feel that way.

You could also look at the situation another way: 1) you no longer have to manage people who are malignantly deceptive, 2) the company cared enough about you that they're taking you out of this stressful situation, 3) if it's genuinely not a problem with you, then the new manager should face similar accusations. I hope this is helpful.

Nuetered Manager on July 25, 2018:

I have worked for my employer for over 28 years 19 of those in management. Recently an occupational employee and I got into a verbal disagreement regarding the scheduling of another occupational employee. the person I was speaking with threw themselves to the floor and said "Did you see that he pushed me down" loud enough for another manager to hear, now I never touched this person and never made any moves that could even be interpreted as initiating physical contact. When all was said and done they changed their verision of their story from what they said at the time it happened to "he caused me to fall down" HR investigated and found no merit to his complaint, however I was told by HR and my Director that because there have bee multiple complaints of no merit filed against me that I should consider how I interact with others. This concerns me on multiple levels

1. They are unable to provide any specifics about what I should do differently, making it quite difficult to change.

2. They are using previous complaints against me, despite the fact that their own investigations found that I had not done anything wrong.

3. My career is now in jeopardy and I am being forced to take a new position with no direct reports, so as to avoid potential future complaints.

This does not seem right to me. Am I crazy, or is it inappropriate for complaints without merit to count against me.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 20, 2018:

Mary - What you can do is complain of retaliation to corporate, noting that you've already talked to plant HR and nothing has been done. Be specific and have all your facts lined up before placing the call. You shouldn't have to put up with this.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 20, 2018:

Robert - Your questions and concerns are indeed justified. There is most certainly risk here. I have faced this situation as an investigator from multiple angles (e.g., where the contract employee is complained about or is the one complaining).

Even though your employee is working on-site at the client's business, s/he is still technically YOUR company's employee. Thus, your staffing company must think about the multiple impacts if you were placing employees in harm's way by assigning them to an abusive, harassing manager.

You must also be concerned about retaliation. The fact that the complaining employee "no longer works there due to other reasons" is a potential red flag, especially when you don't know the full story behind the investigation.

Your staffing company could be sued--as other staffing companies have been successfully sued--for failing to protect employees from sexual harassment at a client's worksite, continuing to assign them there, and permitting retaliation. You don't know what you don't know in this case, and that's the problem.

Your company may be barred by the client from talking with your client's employees, but you can take a statement from your employee and investigate the matter the best you can by talking with relevant witnesses (staffing company employees), for example.

It's important to work out your protocol on how to handle this so that you can communicate it with the company. I recommend discussing the broader issue with an attorney and also taking a look at the standard contract between your firm and your client organizations. Also be sure that your employees have received anti-harassment training.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 20, 2018:

Finn Liam Cooper - Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your perspective.

Mary on July 18, 2018:

I made a complaint to HR over how my boss treats me and other employees. I am the only female on the production floor and before my complaint, I was in training to become production manager. Since my complaint, a member of corporate came down and gave me a different job title and a huge raise. But, the person I complained on has went out of his way to make my job harder. I get berated in front of the other employees, talked to like I’m stupid, and told I’m not manager material because of my outside relationship with the guys. (Which there is none). I’ve talked to HR numerous times and nothing seems to be getting done. The other guys see it and don’t like it at all because they feel like I’m being pushed to quit. What can I do now?

Robert on July 18, 2018:

Jimmy- We have a staffing firm in which our team members work at multiple client properties and are managed by our clients management team. One of our team members has an allegation and possible harassment claim against one of my clients management team. We brought the concern and claim up to the managers hierarchy, and after a week of investigation by their HR department they told us that the investigation was completed and the handled accordingly however, will not provide us results. Our team member no longer works there due to other reasons, but showed our client provide us the results to the investigation of their management team?

Finn from Barstow on July 13, 2018:

A lot of stuff here and you have a really well organized and informative guide that covers the casual that people may not think about (HR may come across and neutral or your friend ) to the more serious (that HR will ultimately defend the company). When you work somewhere you are either an asset or a liability. You have to be cautious to avoid the latter category.

Contacting a lawyer can sometimes be risky because if you go local, you may run into a company that actually works with the organization with which you are employed. So be cautious.

Going through a process where you file a complaint (and want to retract it) can be tedious and then of course, there is always retaliation.

Ultimately the HR person, (there are various official titles for this position) is not your friend.

Sometimes though, being inspired to move on could be the best thing that could happen to you too.

Good article.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 28, 2018:

nelida - HR files are indeed company records and just because you file a complaint doesn't mean you'll necessarily know what action was taken. True.

nelida on June 28, 2018:

I recently turn in a report to HR. They are refusing to provide me with the action on that file. Is this true

Personnel & human resource files are company property & confidential.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 26, 2018:

Lilian - The supervisor shared information about potential retaliatory behavior that they probably weren't supposed to! You can go ahead and apply but chances are slim you'll be hired. When you're notified of your rejection, ask why. Don't be afraid to file a complaint against the company with the EEOC or your state's human rights board (whichever is the process in your state). Or, just accept you'll never work there again and move on, using the supervisor as a positive reference to get another job. Do you really want to work in a place with HR like that and a manager who harassed you?

lilian on June 25, 2018:

Hi, i have a question.. i am applying again to the company that i used to work a year ago.. before filing my resignation i complain file a complain to hr for a manager that harass me. that case settled and i didnt sue anyone. after two months i quit because of my own health issue and personal problem. the Hr says i can call just in case i want to come back.. and now i am applying again, the supervisor says the HR doesnt want to hire me because of that harassment issue. now i want to know if this is just right and no discrimination?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 10, 2018:

Chris - The "reasonable person" language comes from legal court cases. Your HR folks took it straight from the law. Chances are if the comments you allegedly made are that innocuous, most reasonable people would think so as well. That's my take.

Chris on June 10, 2018:

My hr department has a policy regarding harassment, inappropriate comments etc and the verbiage describes comments than any "Reasonable Person" would be offended by. I have been accused of inappropriate comments that frankly are very innocuous. How does one determine what a reasonable person finds offensive?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 02, 2018:

Anon - Your company may have a policy that this is what is standard protocol, and if you don't comply with that policy you may be perceived as refusing to participate in an investigation or interfering with the company's ability to fully investigate the complaint. Check your company policies. My experience is that more people were fired for violating the terms of the employee investigations policy (by violating confidentiality of the interview, for example) than many other corporate policies. Of course, you also can use the opportunity to restate your case.

Anon on June 01, 2018:

If I am involved in an hr complaint (acused) and have been interviewed by an hr representative, am I legally required to write a statement post review?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 14, 2018:

Lianne - You say that you have an employment contract. Are you covered by a union? Is this an individual contract? Read your contract thoroughly and look at how disputes are handled in the contract. For example, are both parties bound to a grievance system that includes arbitration as the final resolution? Your answers lie there.

Lianne on May 14, 2018:

My husband and I use to work with the same company on the same job site and throughout his employment at that site he was being targeted. Meaning upper management was trying to get him to quit or they kept trying to find a way to get rid of him. ( they randomly drug tested him five times in six months but in the last 4-1/2 years previous they ransomed him once. Well he decided to quit and a couple of days later he was talking to his previous supervisor who happens to be his brother and let it out that he was gonna get a lawyer and sue for the way he was treated. A few days after that a project manager approached me and asked what was I going to do about work since my husband didn’t work there anymore and I told him I was going to stay through the turnaround and that I didn’t think that my job was dependent on my husband working there. Later that day I get a phone call from the drug testing lab saying that my urine sample was unviable and that i had to go retest. So I asked the question. When I took random drug test a few days ago and instead of a random they did a wall to wall and watch my urine come out of my hoo-ha into there test cup. When the rep from the lab checked the temp and performed a drug test there on site everything was good, I passed and got the clearance from our company safety rep to go back to work, so that a couple of days later now all of a sudden it was unviable. I got shoved into a van and drove down to the lab where I told the manager that when he stopped me in the parking lot I had just come from the bathroom and that I don’t think I can provide an adequate amount of urine. So I tried three times and all three was a insifficient amount and then time was up and I was given a fail. When we got back to the job site and I went to clean out my office, the project manager stopped me and accused me of being on dope and offered me help. I said help for what, a drug problem I don’t have. I told all of this to my safety manager before I left and he said he would take care of it over the weekend because he was there when I passed the test and the lab rep confirmed it. Well I went home and waited a week for someone to call and no one did. While I was at home I was going over all my drug testing paperwork and my employee contract and the lab rep and company safety man told me to fill out my own drug testing paperwork which is illegal and they got me to fill it out for everybody that day ( 45-50 ) employees. And the employee contract states that he I was suspected of doing drugs that they would come and tell me that they suspect and then I would have to go and see a counselor and then they would determine if a urine sample was warranted. But it didn’t harm like that. And the legal definition of random is not the whole company working at that job site and then given a wall to wall drug test without having certified medical personnel there looking at your privates while taking the test. My question is : what premise would you sue for about the safety manager failure to open an investigation on the claim that I had made about being targeted.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 02, 2018:

Derrick H - Since it's a very large company, you probably you have a compliance line. One or more of you should anonymously call that and give specific details about the coworker who is slamming things around the office and behaving erratically and unprofessionally. Reference fear of retaliation and workplace violence and do NOT give your name, since this person is a relative of your manager. If he has made specific threats, be sure to mention those. Be sure to describe all of his behaviors rather than just your fear of him. Describe why you think he may become violent (e.g., Does he verbally blame someone specifically? Does he talk of weapons? Does he drink on the job? Does he yell at others in the office? Has he talked of self-harm or harm to others? Does he no longer care as much about his appearance? Has his job performance deteriorated? etc.)

If you don't have a compliance line, then write an anonymous letter with all the details and send it to the HR Director with a copy to your VP.

Derrick H on May 01, 2018:

Hi, one of my co workers announced a promotion recently. I and a few other team mates applied, but did not receive an interview. One specific co worker is really upset and has been slamming things around the office, ripping down decorations from the walls, and giving everyone the silent treatment. Despite being a very large company, he is a close relative of our manager, so we cannot go to them. Many on the team have talked about filling a complaint with hr, but are afraid of retaliation. After nearly 2 weeks of this, we are worried he may become violent. Should we file a complaint with HR? Again, there is a fear of violence, but also of retaliation from management.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 14, 2018:

Tracy - Specific personnel issues need to be directed to your Human Resources office and management. For starters, you might ask what the plan is for your career advancement is and what you need to do to be promoted. All the best to you.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 14, 2018:

Confused222 - You're obviously torn up about this. I'm sorry you've had to deal with this type of behavior at work.

When records don't exist, it simply comes down to the credibility of the accounts provided by the people involved. Rather than try to overthink it, just make the allegation and provide the most convincing account you can (e.g., witnesses, notes, details regarding dates and behavior, etc.). It's not a court of law, meaning there's no beyond a reasonable doubt type of standard. A weak investigator who is terrible at his/her job may claim it's a "he said/she said" situation, but a professional investigator will make a logical judgment call based on the facts presented. (People Complained About [PCAs] actually admitted wrongdoing fairly frequently to me as an investigator.) Even if it's unsubstantiated, there's the benefit that a complaint is on record against him. It may be part of a broader pattern, or your complaint may be the first in establishing one. If he does it again (or if he goes to retaliate against you) there's a formal record on file. And remember: to not complain is to condone. Since this continues to bother you, a complaint can help you get it off your chest and hopefully improve the workplace for not only you but others.

TRACY Edmonds on April 14, 2018:

I have been working at store 298 Smokey park highway for almost 5 years I have worked my butt off I have been manager in training on paper now ever since 2017 this is my third time being up for manager well they moved me on nights where I will soon be shift manager over the night crew they haven't yet started training me they have their farovites at the store well that's who they're focusing on to move up Matt Clontz recently moved Destiny Ann Price up to manager she walked out more times than I can count and we were very busy came in the next day still had her job she fights with everyone on the store Matt tells the other party that she's got alot going on in her personal life but anyway I am getting tired of being jerked around by MrClpntz I texted him earlier to see why I haven't been trained yet all I want is a change to prove that I can and will be a very good manager but nobody will give me a chance cause they're a lot of favouritism going on in the store I feel like he's holding that position over my head cause he doesn't want me to leave I love my job and I'm very good at it I was supposed to be manager way before 2 of the managers even thought about the position and it's just not right I am getting over looked and be little and discrimination on in more ways then one when it comes to me becoming manager and that's not right I have alot to offer to the company and like I stated above all that I ha e ever wanted was a chance and an equal opportunity I thought that's what Burger was all about equal opportunity everyone gets theirs when do I get mine

Confused222 on April 13, 2018:

What do investigators do when you don’t really have any records or proof of what happened? I didn’t say anything for months, and only spoke out when another coworker reached out to me because he’d done similar things to her and, when she understandably started ignoring him, lashed out at her and told her not to believe anything I’d said about him (even though I hadn’t said anything). She has a screenshot of him mentioning me, but I don’t really have any evidence except for things I texted friends while some of his behavior was happening, and requests for other people to come with us so I wouldn’t have to be alone with him. Is there any chance HR can dig into our skype conversations or anything? I am pretty sure he has apologized there if he came on too strong or things like that. I think he’s just going to say that I’m badmouthing him or twisting things around to make him look bad, so it just kind of feels like a he said / she said (but at least I’m not the only one complaining!). My allegations aren’t super serious, just lewd/inappropriate behavior that has made the workplace an uncomfortable place to be.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 13, 2018:

SP - You have a choice on this: 1) overlook her as a difficult person, 2) try to build the relationship, or 3) make her life as stressful as she has been making yours.

Can you talk off the record to a supervisor you trust or to your union steward about her pettiness and why she seems to be "dogging" you, especially now? Maybe they can give you some encouragement, inside information, or constructive criticism that can influence your approach.

The company has entrusted her with a management role so they believe in her in spite of past complaints. That doesn't mean that they haven't noticed issues. Have others made complaints about her poor interpersonal treatment? If she treats others like this, too, remember that one thing that gets HR and upper management's attention is lots of grievance activity, especially if it comes from multiple people against a specific person and there seems to be a unifying theme. Grievance activity signals problem hot spots. While management could write employees up for many rules infractions that get overlooked, it's also a two-way street. You and your peers could probably register lots of grievances on issues you're overlooking because you choose to.

Whether you ignore her, kill her with kindness, or make her world rain with grievances, remember that people usually respond reciprocally. You give, you get. I hope this helps you in standing up for yourself while also keeping your job.

SP on April 13, 2018:

I work in an Airline, we have a Union, and I am a Health and Safety Rep. There is a Duty Manager that I have had a grievance filed a few years back in regards to Bullying and Harassment. I have now experienced the same attitude within 2 days. 1. Counters were now busy, therefore I went to the counter phone to call scheduling department. She has asked a Supervisor to tell me to get off the phone. I later went to tell her I was on the phone with scheduling. Her answer was " you must not be on the phone while working and it is busy now and we are trying to get these passengers checked in. The counters and baggage drop off were clear. I felt that was not called for, as many other times agents are on their cell phones and or on the counter phones. Then the next day again she centered me out on 2 incidents. And again asked a lead if I asked the passenger to take off his glasses while doing a passport check, to then ask another supervisor to take out the gum in my mouth. (with that gum, I had also given a gum to my GF and she too was chewing, therefore I feel she is bullying and harassing me. AGAIN. Yes, I had grieved her twice before about the same thing. What is your opinion on this and a lot of us agents feel she needs to be either fired or take a course on how to not to talk down to her employees or bully them? Basically, I had enough of her. Regards SP

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 08, 2018:

Shanarae Daguro - While coworkers might need to know that you will gone for a specific period, they aren't entitled to gossipy details from your supervisor, especially if she is sharing information beyond a "need to know" basis. The answer to your question really depends on the reason you're not working and what she's told whom (e.g., you've received discipline, have a medical issue, are in jail, are caring for a sick family member, funeral leave, jury duty, out on workers comp, etc.). In general, however, you might try talking directly with her first, then taking it to her manager, then to HR. Try to approach it professionally even though she hasn't been professional.

shanarae daguro on April 08, 2018:

Hi what can i do my x boss likes to tell everyone everybodys bussiness

well i dont like her talking about mines so far she told 4 people why im not working i need to do something about her shes always talking about other poeple . i need feedback please

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 22, 2018:

Brandon - I'm just seeing this, as it was inappropriately marked as a spam comment. You've asked 5 times in 2 weeks so you're definitely on their radar as being upset. When they say they'll figure something out, try to get a "when" out of them, explaining that you have financial obligations you need to meet. When that falls through, chat up HR. It's likely they won't know either. During organizational acquisitions everything it often feels like building a bridge as you cross it -- not a wise thing to do, and scary certainly. You may want to fast-track a job search given the low trust environment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 14, 2018:

Em - If you have a complaint against your HR person, simply file the complaint as you would against other employees and cite the appropriate policies that you believe have been violated. HR employees aren’t exempt from complaints.

Em on March 13, 2018:

I need to file a complaint about the HR person. I have been scared to do so out of the situation becoming worse. She already retaliates by sabotaging and withholding work from me. She will not communicate with me in regards to work purposes. She continuously tried to get me in trouble without success. She told management she feels she is in a hostile environment because she thinks I want her job. So I'm being retaliated against and sabotaged because she is threatened by my qualifications and education. I don't feel like I should be treated poorly because she is afraid I'm after her position.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 03, 2018:

Robert - I appreciate the kind sentiments. Employees often don't understand many of these points unless they work in Investigations. Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 03, 2018:

Chris - No, it's certainly not ethical to fabricate evidence falsely stating that the employee was provided notice of a "last chance" before termination. However, in proving the situation you'd have to rely on either the supervisor's admission that he lied or the cell phone recording. The problem with making such a cell phone recording is that if the supervisor didn't consent to the recording, then the person who is doing the unauthorized recording may have broken state law. Check your state law on recordings. You can appeal an unemployment decision, but that just amps up the stakes. Often, it brings an administrative law judge into the process. Besides, this was during an employment probationary period. Usually an employee knows in advance what is expected. During probation, an employee is expected to meet all requirements. Look for another position and chalk this one up to experience.

Robert Sacchi on March 02, 2018:

Thank you for this detailed article about how HR works when an employee files a complaint,

Chris on March 02, 2018:

Ohio worker 3yrs was fired for attendance on 01/05/18. Was called into office that morning for missing the day before (used call off number) supervisor presented manager and employee with 2 write ups, One saying the employee refused to sign backdated from 10/18/17 stating that the employee was going to be put on a probationary period for 90 days and If missed any days in said period will result another write up following termination , which was the 2nd write up.The employee contested the write up from Oct. stating that they never had any knowledge of it until that morning 01/05 and didn’t understand how it was leading to termination if no prior knowledge or information was relayed about the infrastructure and that supervisor never mentioned it or ever showed the employee or manager til then.Well after the employee pleaded his case to the manager,The supervisor admitted that he never addressed the issue or paper with the employee(recorded on cell) til then. Is this ethical? Was denied unemployment also.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 12, 2018:

Lateres gather - You need to go to your Payroll office and take your payroll stub so they can decipher the deductions and tell you what's changed. Could it be a wage garnishment? They'll be able to enlighten you.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 12, 2018:

Ann - I'm trying to clarify this situation, and like you, I have more questions than answers. If you're disabled, shouldn't you be already listed as such with the store's HR department? If you are accustomed to dealing with a specific person in HR, can you turn to this person for quality information? Where's the written policy on this? (Ask!)

Can your manager (or someone in his/her chain of command) step in to help you get the answers you need? Who cut your hours and why? (That seems to be the initial issue you had before they went all ADA on you. You need an explanation.) Do you have previous documentation denoting the company's acknowledgement that you are disabled? If so, then can they explain WHY they were wanting a recertification now?

I wasn't clear that you were actually requesting a reasonable accommodation from them. Were you? If not and you were simply venting your frustration as a complaint about your hours being cut unexpectedly, then I don't understand why they would make you submit medical information. Surely they didn't make non-disabled people do that. Also, medical information shouldn't be handled by just another associate, if that was the case. It's too sensitive for that, as you point out. If there's no medical department, sometimes a designated person/role in HR will handle it, but not just any associate.

You can ask to see your personnel file if you wish (you have a right to review this, typically in the presence of HR). No medical information should be in there, but if they are unprofessional it could be comingled. Point this out to them if you see it.

It's old school (1990s and early 2000s) to try to automatically argue that employees are not disabled as a way of trying to get around the ADA. That's what many companies used to do. However, the ADA was amended back in 2008 to be broad and inclusive when it comes to defining who is disabled. I'm wondering how up-to-date their education is.

Try to get the answers to these questions internally first by going higher within HR in a constructive manner. If that doesn't work, file a formal internal complaint about the way you were treated by HR. You could also consult an employment attorney and make a formal complaint with the EEOC or your state's employment or human rights commission.

Lastly, because I am myself disabled (I have MS) and had a longstanding neurologist who changed practices before retiring recently, let me clue you in on what I learned. When doctors change practices or retire, your records do NOT automatically transfer to your new provider or the doctor's new practice. This may even be the case if a doctor's practice is purchased by someone else but s/he still works there! ASK your new doctor or practice if s/he has ALL of your medical records from your previous doctor/practice. If not, then YOU go to the previous doctor's practice and ask how to get those transferred. Whether we're talking work-related issues, medical continuity of care, or claiming social security disability somewhere down the line, this step is way too important for patients to skip. If you don't do this, it's like starting over with a new doctor and no history.

Ann, it sounded like this issue started with being upset over hours being cut and blossomed unfortunately into disability-related treatment concerns. I wish you well in getting the solutions you seek.

Lateres gather on February 12, 2018:

My check atub is opp and my pay seems different it looks like it money missing somewhere. Need help in fimding out. Whats really going on

Ann on February 12, 2018:

I was declared 100 percent disabled with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, stress , anxiety and migraines in 2013 back dated to 2010 - I have worked for Ross stores since 2014. They also are aware that I have some limited physical limitations stemming from auto accident having nothing to do with my disability. Because I called the hotline to advise that I was overtly in a panic and stress because one hour before my work shift was to start, I was called and told they cut my hours and that I did not need to come.....that made my work total for the week 3.5 hrs.......I had major panic issues all day ....quickest investigation I ever saw......they gave to me a job accommodation questionnaire and the first page It asks me to sign away my Hippa rights, it goes on to "ask the doctor" to fill out the rest so that Ross can determine if I have a disability that needs to be accomodaton.......3 times I have given to them the JAN for Bipolar Employees HR called....I requested a witness to be present during the phone call between HR on phone, mngr and me and was told that no I could not have one because not Ross policy.....I advised them that they did not seem to understand the ADA nor how it works and that if reasonable, ADA over rides Ross policies and in fact requires them to change policies to accommodate. The conversation was useless and indimidating because I asked them what they did notes from the previous two years concerning my disability and they just brushed me off.........this questionnaire is something I should not even have to fill out.......I have already been deemed disabled by the state of it it also asks the dr if I have a physical or mental impairment, what is it and what meds I take.....I told them all these questions were illegal and was like I was talking to a top it off, my dr of many yrs ceased private practice to become a director of a hospital and I have only met with my doctor once......also I am finding it mind boggling that they want a dr to fill out but then tell him to give back to associate.....they ask him to sign it and print his name.......but to not ask for his lic number..........?? This all seems very illegal to me.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 28, 2018:

Leslie - It's probably a disability-related complaint, with the disability being whatever her illness is. Since you were advised of the complaint by your assistant principal, go back to that official and ask what the status of the complaint is. They don't necessarily have to tell you the substance of the complaint. Your objective should simply be protecting your own health and getting the work done. The less you know about the complaint the better because of retaliation concerns.

Leslie Hans on January 28, 2018:

I work for a school district and my secretary has filed a complaint against me. I was told about this, not by HR, but by my assistant principal a month after the complaint was filed. I was not told what the specific complaint is. I do know the secretary had been suffering from medical issues and let me know by text message that she had a non-contagious stomach illness that I have had family members contract in the past and I knew this illness to be highly contagious.I contacted my mother-in-law, a tenured nursing instructor at a prestigious university's school of nursing, to see if there was a non-contagious form and she said no. People who contract this are quarantined just like my brother-in-law and my mother, who both were exposed to this illness in a hospital and nursing home setting. My secretary continued to come to work and brushed off my questions about being contagious. I asked her if she should let the school nurse know and she did talk to her, but I do not know the content of that conversation. The day we got out for Christmas break, I went to the nurse to pick up a report for a meeting I was going to attend. The nurse asked me to tell my secretary when I returned to my office to please send her a doctor's note stating she could be at work. I asked the nurse if it would not be better for her to ask that question. She said, no, you can ask her. When I returned to my office I said in passing the secretary's desk that the nurse would like for you to get a note from your doctor that you can return to work. My secretary said, "Why?" I said you may want to call and ask her. I then entered my meeting. From that point on the health incident has not been mentioned to me. We returned to work after the break and it has been business as usual. I had and still have no idea why she filed a complaint against me. Not sure how to respond. Do I have the right to contact HR and ask exactly what is the complaint?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 18, 2018:

Confused - If it's a grievance, obviously work with your union rep on questions but my general impression is that no, you don't need to disclose specific names. However, failing to do so impacts credibility and the ability to do a thorough investigation. Good luck.

Confussed on January 17, 2018:

If I am going to file a grievance regarding issues that are being discussed about me at work, do I legally need to disclose the name of co workers that warned me of a possible set up by supervisor/Manager?

Brandon Reynolds on January 16, 2018:

I have been working with my employer for 14 years. We were recently acquired by a much larger company. 2 weeks ago my manager and one of the executives talked to me about a new position and asked if I was interested. I told them I was but would need more details on the compensation package. When I came into work the next day, I was told that my current position has been dissolved and I will now be working in the proposed position full time. That was 2 weeks ago. I have had no training at all, the job description I was given this morning was not how the position was presented to me 2 weeks ago, and I still do not have details on my new compensation package. I was told everything would remain the same, and then last week I was told my quarterly bonuses would be moved into one end of the year bonus. I of course told my CEO that I was promised to be paid the same and I can't live on being paid a bonus only 1 time a year. Also, I have no idea the metrics I would need to hit to actually get the bonus. I have asked about my new compensation package at least 5 times in 2 weeks and my CEO is telling me " we will figure something out for you!" The company that acquired us is very corporate and we have an HR representative at their company. Should I reach out to her or do you think I should contact an attorney? The company I work for is very underhanded and I am scared at this point of retaliation if I file a complaint. Thanks for your help!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 16, 2018:

Reall - She was simply telling you that as an agent of the company (a management employee), it is her duty not her choice as to whether to report this complaint now that she is aware of it. She cannot pretend it didn't happen because you are unsure about pursuing the matter. Maybe she could have said it a better way, but that's all she meant. She has no choice but to report it for investigation. You want this.

Reall on January 15, 2018:

I recently filed a complaint of sexual advances and harassments of a manager who has been employed with company for some years. I've been employed for 4 years now and experienced this type of behaver from him off and on the entire time. He recently make a vulgar suggestion in front of 2 of colleagues, which was surprising, needless to say I took that as an opportunity to report him since in times passed I had no other witnesses, i.e., his word against mine. I reported the incident to my immediate supervisor who is also responsible for reporting the incident. I recently met with both my supervisor and the HR Generalist who took an official statement and interview me and others. When I shared my reluctancny to interview, My Supervisor is an officer of the company and made it clear to me that she had an obligation as such to report. That made me feel as if she was more interested in protecting the company than correcting this issue. I read in your article that company's consult a group of individuals, 1 you mentioned was their attorney's. What I am wondering now is if I should seek my own legal counsel?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 14, 2018:

Helen - If you are going to complain, then you and your coworker are best served by complaining together and citing the written procedure for filling jobs that says they'll be posted. Strength in numbers. If you're turned town by or retaliated against, you'll have a trail of evidence of your complaint. If companies have policies they need to consistently follow them. Good luck.