I Think I'm Being Treated Illegally at Work: What should I Do?
There are several ways to approach this problem. Each choice depends on the company culture, your personality, and your job and financial situation. I will lay out several paths you can take. There may be a totally novel way to approach this from what I offer. Begin Collecting Information.
What types of lllegal Activity Are ThereDiscrimination occurs when you are treated negatively at work because of a protected class you belong to. The list is long, but there are several main categories. Discrimination based on Race, Color, Religion, National Origin, Sex, Disability, Age, Prior Convictions, Weight, Age, Health, Language, Sexual Orientation, Grooming and Dress, Pregnancy, Genetic Information, Retaliation, Veteran, Credit, and probably even more based on State or Local laws.
Workers that fit one of these protected groups cannot be discriminated against because of belonging to that group or class. Not all the above are available everywhere. Some are Federal (Everywhere), State, only in the state(s) where the law is part of the state code, city or county (only for that particular locale).
Other issues concern not being paid fully or classified as exempt from overtime or working conditions that are not safe or illegal activity at work.
Where Can I Obtain an Overview of These LawsYou can use search engines (google, bing, yahoo, other). If you don't have access to a computer or smart phone go to the public library. They will have excellent free internet services as well as books on employment law and discrimination and unfair pay or labor practices.
You can search for: eeoc.gov, dol.gov, findlaw.com, justia.com, cornell law project, and describe in a few words your situation. Go to section C and look under Additional Sources.
See Section C for additional Sources of Information" at the end of the Sections
What Steps Should I Take if I Suspect MistreatmentFirst there is no law against a just plain bad boss who is a jerk. No such thing as general harassment. If he or she is just plain mean to everyone, well that's why unions form or turnover is high.
Now that that is out of the way what should you do:
You should keep a copy of any emails that involve your potential problem.
You should keep a journal. Use ink, sign and date each entry. The journal should be in a bound composition book that cost about $2.00. Never remove a page. Journal as soon as you can after the event occurs. Timeliness is very important. You can start your journal by recording a summary and sign and date it.
Keep a copy of your performance appraisals and pay records.
Now based on your corporate culture, your personality, and what treatment is going on you can go to HR and ask them about it. Go to your boss unless he is the cause. Go to your boss's boss. You can go directly to the EEOC or DOL or state agency. Or you can go to an employment lawyer, for a short "free" consultation. Visit at least two different plaintiff's lawyers.
Before visiting the lawyers or right after you should read at least one of the two publications I list under Additional Sources. Another publication that covers the same topics will do. You are looking for broad information to do a reality check.