When HR Fails to Take Your Complaint Seriously

Most people have had a workplace issue; for many, the first attempt to address the problem is contacting the Human Resources Department. If you have complained to HR, but they have done nothing and are failing to take your issue seriously, you may feel frustrated and unsure of what to do next. For many workers, there is a need to pursue a more formal HR process outlined in your employer’s policy manual or to file an agency complaint.

Steps for Addressing Workplace Problems

  1. Read your Policy or Employee Manual. Your first step is to take note of your employer’s policy regarding employee complaints. There may be a progression of steps, from informal verbal counseling to a written complaint. These steps will help you form a plan of action.
  2. Know your issue. It might be discrimination, harassment, unequal pay, FMLA, retaliation, or other workplace mistreatment. But write up your issue and describe what has been happening. Remember to be specific, detailed, and factual when describing your situation. Instead of saying, “Bob harasses me,” include facts and say, “on Thursday of last week, Bob yelled at me in a meeting and referred to women being unsuitable for my position in front of several witnesses.”
  3. Follow the Steps in your Policy or Employee Manual. Your employer may ask for a formal written complaint on a particular form. Try to follow the policy as closely as possible, even if some steps seem unlikely to be successful. Many issues can be resolved at this stage, but even if your employer does not address an issue, your failure to follow the policy can harm a later complaint or lawsuit.
  4. File a Complaint with the EEOC, the CCRD, or another agency. If your complaint to your employer does not fix the issue, you may wish to file a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD), the EEOC, or other agencies that address worker rights. Livelihood Law has extensive experience before the CCRD and EEOC and can help guide you through the process.
  5. Consult the Right Attorney. At any step in your plan of action, you may find that you need help. Use care to hire an attorney experienced in workplace law who can fully understand the complexity of your claims.

Strategies for Success with HR

  • Document everything. Save all paperwork and take notes of any conversations with your employer concerning your complaint. Consider using a personal cell phone or tablet instead of your office computer.
  • Don’t lose your temper. As hard as it is to keep your cool, try to be respectful and calm when dealing with HR and management.
  • Know your rights. Remember that your employer has an obligation to investigate and address many issues and must prevent retaliation for pursuing or filing a complaint.
  • Be mindful of time limitations. If your HR complaint is not progressing, do not wait weeks or months – contact an attorney.