If you are involved in a workplace dispute, there are several steps you can take toward seeking a resolution for your situation. While you might be advised to contact your local Human Resources representative, it can be hard to approach them if you have a dispute with a higher-up employee.
If you are unsure of what to do, consult a workplace dispute lawyer for guidance.
Read the Employee Handbook
If you haven’t already, you should review your employee handbook. Employee handbooks typically contain information on the company’s policies and procedures and how they apply to various work-related topics. Information typically found in employee handbooks may include:
- Sexual harassment policies;
- Alcohol and drug use policies;
- Pay, salaries, and any bonus-type information;
- Health, medical, sick leave, and post-employment benefits;
- How and where to file complaints with the company;
- Attendance policies; or
- Professional behavioral expectations.
The purpose of including policies and procedures within an employee handbook is to protect employees and protect the employer. All policies should be enforced consistently and comply with local, state, and federal requirements.
How to Speak with Your Employer About the Workplace Dispute
In many situations, directly speaking with your employer is a fast way to resolve a workplace dispute. Contact an employment law attorney if speaking directly to your employer does not work.
Before taking your concerns to your employer, be sure to review all relevant material about the policies and procedures of your company. It’s a good idea to get everything about the situation in writing before voicing your concerns. Summarize the problem, state the facts, and bring your complaint to your employer.
It will help if you already have a possible solution or outcome in mind – for example, being moved to a different office area or changing shifts, so you do not run into the other person. If you can bring a workable solution instead of just a problem, you have a better chance of quickly resolving the situation.
If possible, try to reach an agreeable resolution to the problem before the conversation’s conclusion. If you and your employer cannot agree upon a solution, you may want to contact an attorney for further guidance.
How to Respond to Disciplinary Actions
It is much better for anyone on the receiving end of disciplinary action to respond rather than react. It is quite easy to have a strong reaction to something like a write-up, especially if you feel it is in error or from information taken out of context. If you want to challenge a disciplinary action against you, do so professionally.
Tell your employer that you disagree with its contents when handed a write-up. Remain calm, state only facts, and be direct. It may be possible to discuss the matter on the spot without going through formal filing. If you are feeling emotional and do not want to discuss it then and there, it is okay to tell your employer that you disagree and submit a rebuttal the following day.
Be sure to gather all of the facts and supporting evidence for your case. Check emails, calendars, and anything else that could defend yourself, and demonstrate that you are not at fault. If possible, find any witnesses who can corroborate your side and ask them to write a letter of support that will accompany your rebuttal.
Do not let nebulous comments go without being challenged if the write-up is related to a performance review. For instance, if your boss says, “You’re just not trying hard enough,” ask for specific examples. If they cannot provide specifics, record it in your feedback. Provide documentation for any accusations of failing to meet company expectations. Address every point and provide evidence, if possible.
Failure to sign a write-up in some companies could lead to more disciplinary action. If you disagree with disciplinary action, ask for time for a rebuttal or sign the document and make a note that your signature does not indicate agreement with its contents.
Workplace Disputes Involving Wages and Overtime Pay
Workplace disputes involving wages and overtime pay may involve several legal issues. For instance, a wage garnishment case could include another issue, such as child support payments.
Disability and discrimination wage disputes are common and complex. If you have a wage and overtime dispute, you may need to file a claim with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor. If doing so does not remedy the situation, contact an attorney for assistance.
How to Handle Workplace Disputes Involving Discrimination
It is against federal law to discriminate against employees based on the following characteristics:
- National Origin;
- Sex or gender;
- Disability; or
- Medical conditions, such as pregnancy.
These are protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Based on these characteristics, any employment decisions that include termination, hiring, pay, promotions, etc., based on these characteristics are prohibited. There are many protections for these individuals in both state and federal law.
However, the law is not always applied, and small companies may be excluded. What is considered “small” varies from state to state. A state like California considers a small company excluded from the law as having less than five employees. An employment law attorney will explain your rights and assist you in protecting yourself from workplace discrimination.
What Documents and Questions Should I Bring to My Employment Law Attorney?
Employees who are involved in workplace disputes should bring the following documents when meeting with their employment law attorney:
- Evidence proving a dispute or violation occurred, such as e-mails, text messages, recordings, videos, or complaints submitted to human resources
- Financial statements like pay stubs or timesheets if the dispute is a wage and hour issue
- Employment documents like employment contracts, company policies, or an employee handbook
- Written accounts of what happened during the dispute or how long the issue occurred (e.g., documented incidences of sexual harassment in the workplace)
- A list of witnesses or other workers who either saw the dispute occur or have experienced the workplace issue themselves
If you have a workplace dispute, you should also prepare a list of questions to ask your employment lawyer. The list should include questions about workplace dispute cases for the attorney. Ask the attorney about their billing rates and past track record with cases similar to yours.
Ask questions that pertain to the case itself, too. Discuss your chances of winning the case, the type of remedies available, and the consequences of losing the case.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Workplace Dispute?
If you are dealing with a workplace dispute, you should contact a local workplace lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will review your case, advise you of your rights, and assist you in the process of resolving your case. If necessary, your lawyer will also represent your best interests in a civil lawsuit if you choose to file a complaint against your employer.
You should especially consider hiring a workplace dispute attorney if your employer is a large corporation and has in-house resources to defend themselves in court. An insurance company will most likely insure your employer. It is extremely difficult to defend yourself without an experienced attorney in such cases. Use LegalMatch today to find the right lawyer near you.