When the economy slows as projected in 2022 and 2023, the pressure on businesses to contain costs will grow. In a perfect world, managers would make objective decisions based on business reasons. Unfortunately, all too often, managers will make employment decisions based on their personal likes and biases. Therefore, employees need to be proactive in safeguarding their rights. Below are some suggestions to help you protect your interests as an employee.
- DO YOUR JOB.Every business needs good workers, even as business slows. Don’t get distracted by the noise. If an employer is eliminating staff to save costs, they often will look first to eliminate the poor performers. It is important not to provide a valid legal reason to terminate employment, i.e., poor performance. Stay focused on what you can control—getting your job done.
- DOCUMENT CONCERNS. One way to document your concerns is to email yourself detailed notes of what is happening as it happens. These notes should be sent to your personal email from your personal email. DO NOT USE A COMPANY DEVICE OR EMAIL ADDRESS TO DOCUMENT WORKPLACE ISSUES. Many employers monitor the use of their systems and have policies that allow them to monitor your use of their systems. By documenting in your personal email using your personal device, you can create a record of your concerns and contemporaneous recollections of interactions in the workplace. This will serve as a useful record to refute your employer’s subsequent description of key events. The timestamp on your emails will demonstrate your contemporaneous recording, which increases the credibility of your version. This is also a good way to record inappropriate comments and other improper behavior.
- REPORT CONCERNS.If you believe you are being treated differently because of a protected characteristic (disability, gender, race, etc.) file a complaint with Human Resources. By making this complaint, you put your employer on notice of the illegal behavior and create a record of your report. Before doing so, you should consider consulting with an employment attorney who can help you present a complaint that also may trigger anti-retaliation and whistleblower protections.
- DON’T COPY OR TAKE YOUR EMPLOYER’S CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. When facing termination, you may be tempted to copy work files to a thumb drive. This could undermine any potential legal claims you have or even put you in the defendant’s chair of a lawsuit. Taking information off of your company’s systems for personal use usually violates a company policy and may justify your termination of employment. More importantly, if you have confidential information, like client lists, it could open you up to a lawsuit from your former employer as you begin working for another company. Even if you don’t use the confidential information, the mere possession of this information will create issues for you. There are exceptions when you are going to supply information to a government agency and even possibly to your attorney to assess a whistleblower claim. But do not make that assessment whether an exception applies on your own. First, consult an employment attorney.
- CONSULT AN ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU QUIT.If you want to protect your rights and best position yourself for a discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination claim, it is critical that you do not quit your job before consulting an attorney. By quitting you may be giving your employer an easy out to an otherwise valid lawsuit.
IMPORTANT: This information is not intended to be legal advice or take the place of legal advice regarding your particular situation. If you want to speak to an employment attorney to evaluate your situation our employment attorneys are available for a consultation.
· Frank Lopez, Practice Leader
· Rebecca A. Mastel
· Jay Hermele
· Andrew J. Felser
Keep in mind that employment law claims often have a very short window of time for you to pursue your claim. If you believe that you have suffered workplace discrimination, harassment or retaliation, protect your rights and contact us immediately to evaluate your case.