What employees can do if HR doesn’t have their back

| Dec 12, 2019 | Workplace sexual harassment

When people have problems at work, they often take their matters to their company’s human resources department. Unfortunately, not every HR team has been good about handling workers’ complaints, even in light of the MeToo movement.

A recent blog post from a former Uber engineer discusses her interactions with the rideshare company’s HR department. She says her claims were covered up to protect high performers, even if they were sexually harassing others.

Those in human resources often get caught in a standstill about who to protect, the workers or the company. In many instances, they end up siding with the company due to fear of retaliation from executives, who, in some cases, could be part of the problem.

However, even if an HR team is too afraid to act, an employee shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. While they may feel like they don’t have a voice, they can take matters into their own hands.

When HR doesn’t handle harassment complaints

These are some options employees have available to them:

  • Independently document what’s happening: Depending on the situation, HR departments may have more incentive to act if they see documentation of the alleged misconduct. Workers may also want to consider documenting their conversations they have with HR to further help their claim if they have to take legal action.
  • Begin looking for another job: Someone who is a victim or discrimination of harassment in the workplace may be in a dysfunctional environment. If a worker feels nobody supports them and that their situation has gotten worse, it may be time to find a new job.
  • Look for outside assistance: If the employee doesn’t have some to defend them inside the company, there are other places to assist them. For example, the employee facing harassment can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If matters get worse and their work environment becomes hostile, they can take their case to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Putting blind trust in HR can be problematic

No one should expect a human resources department to be perfect. But if a worker feels the company is ignoring their sexual harassment claims, they may have to take matters into their own hands. In these instances, employees who are victims of sexual harassment may want to seek legal assistance.