Workplace harassment, a form of discrimination, is something to be taken seriously. It’s generally referred to as a pattern of behavior that causes an employee to feel uncomfortable in their workplace. So why doesn’t HR always take it as seriously as they should? In 2018, there were 26,699 cases of workplace harassment filed according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). But just because cases are reported doesn’t mean HR properly handled them.
When reporting workplace harassment, it’s important to remember that HR will most likely not be an advocate for you and does not need to keep your conversation confidential. Everything you say could get back to the person you’re accusing. EEOC also reported after a study that 75% of victims experienced retaliation after reporting workplace harassment, which is illegal. If you experience retaliation, an employment lawyer may be able to help you hold your employer accountable.
Steps to Take if HR Isn’t Helping
Before you take any of these steps, make sure you have followed all company procedures for filing a complaint, and given them time to fix the problem. If they have done nothing to correct or improve the situation, then you can start this process. In most cases, HR will give you a reason in writing why they are choosing to not take action. You’ll want to keep that document for later.
Nobody should have to endure poor treatment in the workplace. Read these steps if you feel like HR isn’t listening, and you need to know what to do next:
- Document everything you can. Documentation could be any emails you have exchanged with HR, or it could be any emails or office IMs where harassment took place. Print out emails as well as IM screenshots. Save any relevant voicemails you might have. Also document your meeting with HR so that they cannot deny that you met with them. The more documentation you have, the better!
- Read up on your company’s policies and the law. Reading the company handbook ensures you know exactly what parts of policy or law your employer or HR is violating. For example, they could be violating federal law, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans discrimination based on sex. If you work at a company with 15 or less people, they are exempt from federal discrimination laws, but they must follow state laws, so you’ll want to read up on those as well. It is important to know that the statute of limitations in the state of West Virginia is 2 years.
- Seek outside help. Contact EEOC or file an employment law claim. Bring HR’s statement with you and any other documentation you have.
- Ask for a transfer or find a new job. This might not be an option for everyone, but if you can apply to other jobs, you should. You shouldn’t have to stay in a harmful work environment. There are no guarantees that you’ll win your lawsuit, so it might be best to find a new job so you can leave the place that is treating you poorly.
If you’ve been harassed in your workplace and HR isn’t doing what you thought they should, you’ll need legal support. Contact us today and we can review your case. Your workplace should be a comfortable environment, and we can help restore that feeling.