How to File a Complaint Against an Employer

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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Most Common Employment Law Issues:

What is an Employment Complaint?

An employment complaint is a complaint filed by an employee against their employer, supervisor, or company.  Employment complaints can be filed for a number of legal causes of action.  The most common types of employment law complaints can involve:

Other complaints may involve other issues like retirement or vacation benefits, hiring procedures, promotions, and family medical leave issues.

How Do I File a Complaint Against an Employer?

Filing a complaint against an employer usually requires that the employee follow specific steps.  First, they should file their complaint statement with the internal human resources (HR) department if possible.  Filing with the HR can often provide a temporary or makeshift solution to the problem.  However, this might not always be possible, and it might not always lead to a sufficient remedy (especially if the complaint is with the HR department itself).

Next, the employee must usually file with a government agency regarding their complaint.  There are various government agencies that specialize in investigating specific employment-related conflicts. 

For instance, if the complaint has to do with discrimination or hiring, the employee must usually file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  But if the complaint has to do with workplace safety, they must file with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rather than the EEOC. 

The government agency will then conduct an investigation into the complaint.  If they find the employer to be liable for a violation, they may issue a remedy, such as a damages award, or an order that the employer change their work policies. 

If this doesn’t work, the employee can then file a private lawsuit with a civil court.  But they usually must file with the agency first; only after a filing with the government agency has proven unfruitful can they lodge a civil complaint in court.

What are Some Other Tips for Filing a Complaint?

Be sure that you compile documents and written statements when filing your complaint.  The court is more likely to consider evidence if it’s in the form of writing rather than oral statements.  For instance, you may want to keep any work transcripts, hiring/firing forms, wage stubs, and receipts that might be relevant to your claim.  Also, if you’re going to obtain a witness statement or admission, it’s always best to get it in writing.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Filing a Complaint?

Filing a complaint against an employer can often be challenging.  The process can take some time, and may involve several different steps.  You may wish to hire a qualified lawyer for help during the process.  Your attorney can guide you through the steps you need to follow, and can represent you during hearings.

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Last Modified: 06-16-2014 11:35 AM PDT

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