There’s no law that says life has to be fair, or even that your boss has to be fair, but there are laws to protect employees against the worst kinds of employment malpractice. Not sure if what your boss is doing breaks the law or represents a breach of contract? The best way to be sure is to ask a lawyer.
Let’s suppose that your lawyer says you have grounds to sue your employer. Should you go ahead with a lawsuit right away? Chances are, you should do a little thinking first.
Still Holding the Job? This is Going to be Uncomfortable!
Let’s be realistic. While openly retaliating against you because you filed a lawsuit is illegal, there are lots of little ways to make you uncomfortable at work. An adversarial working relationship is never pleasant. True, the dust may settle eventually, but “this employee once sued us” is always going to be the elephant in the room, even if you’re fully justified in having done so and won the case. Ask yourself whether you can take the pressure, and ideally, get another job!
Maybe “Let’s Talk” can be a Workable Solution
You know that you have a valid complaint, and that you could ask a law court to settle it for you. Nevertheless, it’s better by far to talk things through. Give your employer a chance to resolve the problem. There should be an in-house grievance procedure that you can follow. If there’s actually been a transgression of employment law, they’ll know that you have grounds to take legal action and the chances of getting them to accede to your demands are pretty good. Of course, you’re keeping the pressure low, so “I’m not quite comfortable with this,” and “I’d be glad if you would,” is a polite place to start.
Is Anyone Willing to Support Your Complaint?
Supporting your grievances during a coffee break and doing so in a court of law are worlds apart. Will your colleagues be willing to act as witnesses? The sad truth is that most of them will prefer to keep their heads down and stay out of the line of fire. That leaves you with your testimony and any supporting paper trail you may have been able to scrape together. It might still be enough to win your lawsuit, but things are going to be a whole lot tougher.
You Might be Seen as a Potential Troublemaker When You Apply Elsewhere
Take it from me, sifting through resumes is an arbitrary business. Gap in your employment history? Red flag! A dispute with your former employer? Big red flag! If you’re a really good applicant, they might be willing to hear you out, but to be honest, it’s going to place you at a disadvantage. My advice? Gloss over the whole incident if you can! You were taking a “career break,” or you had “family responsibilities.”
Sometimes, Justice Must be Done
Suing your employer is a big decision, but there are situations in which it’s the right thing to do. Apart from any compensation you might get from taking your unethical employers to court, you’re also telling them that they can’t get away with infringing employee rights. They might think twice before doing so again! It’s not going to be easy on you, but there are times when you absolutely should sue, both for your own sake, and for the sake of your successors.
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