We all know that life is not fair, but when that unfairness creeps into the workplace it can be a major problem. Unlike other situations, you cannot simply walk away from a problem at work. Unfortunately, dealing with those kinds of issues can be touchy – not to mention perilous for your career. Making the wrong move could leave you on the outside looking in, but not dealing with the problem head on could mean lots of extra stress.
If you feel you are being treated unfairly at work, the first thing you need to do is identify the problem. You cannot deal with an issue until you know what it is, so making a list of those perceived slights is a critical first step. Unfairness in the workplace can take many forms, from blatant favoritism on the part of a supervisor to personality clashes between coworkers. Identifying the problem will make it easier to deal with – and make your case a stronger one.
Keep Careful Records
If the unfairness you perceive at work comes to a head, it could very well boil down to your word against someone else. Keeping detailed records will make it easier for you to prove that you have been harassed or otherwise treated unfairly.
Make detailed notes about incidents you perceived as unfair, from not being invited to an important meeting to your boss piling more work on you than your coworkers. Be sure to record the date and time of each incident, and make a list of people who witnessed those events.
Research the Law
Researching the employment laws in your state is important as well. Understanding when workplace unfairness crosses the line into harassment and bullying will make it easier for you to defend yourself.
Each state has different laws regarding behavior in the workplace, so it is important to do your homework. Do not simply take the word of a coworker or friend. Actually look up the law. You might even want to consult with an attorney who specializes in workplace matters.
Talk to Your Supervisor
If the problems you are having stem from a coworker, it is a good idea to set up a private meeting with your supervisor to discuss the matter. Your boss may not even be aware of the situation. Keeping them informed is important, especially if you need to press your case further.
If your boss is the one being unfair, try to seek out an understanding colleague. Ask your coworker if he or she perceives the same unfairness you do. Others may have a different perspective on the matter, and seeking impartial advice can be a big help.
Research Your Options
If your boss is willing to listen to your concerns, you may have a good chance of dealing with the unfairness issue in a constructive manner. A good supervisor can often defuse problems between coworkers and bring peace to the workplace. It does not serve the interests of the company to drive away its best people. If you have been a good worker and a loyal employee, the company should want to keep you around.
If the company is unwilling or unable to deal effectively with the situation, you may need to explore other options – from legal action to quitting. If you are contemplating legal action, you will want to consult with an employment law attorney first. There are laws to protect workers, but the specifics of those laws vary from place to place.
If you feel that the best option is to seek other employment, now is the perfect time to polish your resume and start gathering your references. Speak to your friends in the office and confidentially ask them to be references. Then grab your resume and start looking for greener pastures.