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SPLF Employment Blog

Anonymous Complaints

Here’s one more thing to think about. In the real world, many companies don’t like employees who complain of illegal activity. Yes, your company may have a nice glossy website encouraging employees to report known wrongdoing. Maybe your company means it. Maybe it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, it means that, as soon as you report something, the clock is ticking on your job. And many human resources departments leak like a sieve.

Call your company’s “anonymous” hotline to report that your colleague has been grabbing your ass, and all of a sudden, your boss stops coming by your desk. This is fine, except that she also stops sending you good sales leads, and your numbers dip. Eight months later, you are let go for poor sales. “Isn’t that illegal retaliation?” you ask. Most likely, but it will be almost impossible to prove. First, you made a call to a hotline. Nothing is in writing. Second, your boss is not the one harassing you, and no one will admit that someone in human resources told your ass-grabbing colleague, who then told your boss. (It turns out he was sleeping with her.) Now the company has the excuse of eight months of dropping sales numbers as cover for its decision.

I wish I had a solution to this dilemma. If you are thinking, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, you’d be right. Welcome to the jungle of the workplace. As a lawyer, I prefer that employees always report suspected discrimination in writing. For those people who end up in my office, it gives me a lot more to work with. But blowing the whistle is rarely without risk. So, if you report wrongdoing, stay on your toes for a while, and, to the extent you can, document everything.

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