When Should You File an HR Complaint?

No matter what industry or company you work for, you will face difficulties in your workplace. When that happens, you may feel in need of an advocate at work to help you navigate through those issues. While the human resources department is used to handling uncomfortable work situations, they are not able to handle all work conflicts.

So how do you know when to go to HR? It’s important to differentiate between difficulties at work and when your rights are being violated.

When to File an HR Complaint

The scenarios below are examples of situations that warrant an HR complaint. Make sure you have well-documented proof and know your rights as an employee.

[READ: Reasons to Quit Your Job.]

You are being harassed at work.

Harassment at work includes sexual harassment and harassment based on your religion, race, sex, nationality, disability or age. If this has happened to you or is happening to you currently, the HR department has a legal responsibility to investigate. In this case, you should approach your HR department and make it clear that you are filing a complaint. Making a complaint clear will help to ensure that the HR department puts in motion a formal investigation. Since the HR department is trained on how to handle harassment investigations, they will be aware of any state or federal laws that deal with your particular case.

You are facing discrimination at work.

This is another time when it would be appropriate to report to HR. It is against the law to discriminate based on race, religion, sex, disability or another protected class. And in these cases, the HR department will know the laws pertaining to your particular case of discrimination and will know what is required.

Your company rights are being violated.

In cases of furloughing, being laid off or taking time off due to illness, make sure you are aware of your rights. If your boss is asking you to do something that is against company policy, such as asking you to work while being furloughed, this would be something to go to HR about.

Your benefits are being withheld.

If your employee benefits (such as bonus payments, health insurance, vacation time, etc.) are being withheld or have changed while you are under a contract agreement, it’s best to take your concern to the HR department. They can help you understand your benefits more fully and help you make any claims if you determine that you aren’t receiving the correct benefits.

Your boss is abusive.

If you work for an abusive boss, you can file a complaint with the HR department. Actions such as yelling, manipulation or intimidation are indicators that your boss is abusive.

You are asked to do something illegal.

If anyone in the company has asked you to participate in something illegal, you can go to HR for assistance. If you feel unsafe being a whistleblower, you can discreetly inquire how to submit these types of claims anonymously.

As you can see, the situations outlined above are quite serious. If the person causing your problem is your boss, you may wonder how you can complain about your boss without getting fired. Make sure that what has happened is well-documented and take it as proof to the HR department. When filing your complaint, make sure to be accurate with your wording. Don’t exaggerate, but don’t minimize what happened either. Make copies of everything, including your complaint, and look into your rights after making a complaint. You may also find it useful to look for additional legal assistance.

When You Shouldn’t File an HR Complaint

There are times when work complications don’t warrant a stop at the HR office. While the following scenarios still make for an uncomfortable workplace, you likely won’t gain anything from filing a formal complaint to HR.

[READ: What Is an Exit Interview?]

When you haven’t tried to fix the problem yourself.

In some cases, the HR department will ask you if you have already tried to resolve the issue with the other person. It may not always be safe or appropriate to do so, but in some cases, if the person continues to create problems after speaking with them, this shows the HR department the seriousness of your complaint.

When you have a disagreement with a co-worker.

While you may want to get someone in your corner, this isn’t something you can file a complaint about. In some cases, your HR department may be able to provide you with some advice about how to handle work relationships, but generally speaking, this is not the case. Consider if getting the HR department involved will make the disagreement with your co-worker better or worse. In most cases, it’s best to approach your co-worker directly about what happened and learn how to create a better working relationship.

When you dislike your boss.

If you dislike your boss’s management style, communication style or you generally don’t get along with each other, you should not file an HR complaint. Unfortunately, none of these are valid reasons for submitting a formal complaint against your boss. You may find that this backfires on you and worsens your relationship with your colleague. Instead, ask yourself if there are things you can adjust to get along.

[Read: 10 Tips to Quit a Job After Only 3 to 6 Months.]

When you have already filed a complaint about the issue.

Unfortunately, submitting multiple complaints about the same issue won’t help to remedy the situation. Keep in mind that it will take the HR department time to complete their investigation. Ask them for regular updates about your original complaint. If you find that they haven’t done their job, it may be better to seek legal assistance elsewhere.

More from U.S. News

Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance

The Best Jobs That Help People

16 Low-Stress Jobs

When Should You File an HR Complaint? originally appeared on usnews.com

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up