A question as to how and when you can complain about your boss always remains embarrassing. The reason is that unwarranted complaints can jeopardize working environment and career. However, there are situations when actions of a supervisor should be confronted. Types of complaints an employee can file depend upon a particular violation or action. The relationship between employees and managers is often fragile. An argument with your co-worker and an argument with your supervisor are two different things. So, what is the formula for a successful resolution of the argument with supervisors? The relations of counterparts are regulated by federal and state laws. Find below the list of federal institutions where you can appeal for help.
The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division exercises jurisdiction and enforces a number of labor protection laws including:
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA);
- The Family and Medical Leave Act;
- The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act;
- The Employer Polygraph Protection Act;
- The Field Sanitation Standards of Occupational Safety and Health Act and some others.
Who Can Complain to WHD:
Employees who come across breaches of the law which refer to wage/salary payments including minimum wage or overtime violations, and minors’ employment violations. All reasons are about laws enforcements that WHD administers.
When You Can Complain to WHD:
The FLSA states 2 years and 3 years for intentional infringements.
How You Can Complain to WHD:
Available options include:
- in person in your regional WHD office;
- by phone 1-866-487-9243 (toll free help line);
- using the contact form.
To complain with WHD you should provide the following data:
- full name;
- address and contacts;
- name and location of the organization you work for;
- position and processes you perform;
- form of payment.
All WHD services are not subject to disclosure, and they are provided on a free of charge basis. There are no fees for filling a complaint or WHD investigation. Do remember that people who have brought a complaint cannot be discharged, reprimanded, or discriminated.
The US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
The US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs bears responsibility for protecting workers and enforcing such laws as:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990;
- Vietnam’s Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1874;
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503);
- Executive Order 11246.
The institution also controls a number of federal guidance documents and regulations.
Who Can Complain to OFCCP:
Employees who are discriminated by federal contractors and sub-contractors based on sex, religion, race, sexual identity, color, disability, ethnic background, and status as a protected veteran.
Employees who are discharged or disciplined based on compensation disclosures, questions, or discussions. A complaint can be lodged by organizations and third parties on behalf of the person involved.
When You Can Complain to OFCCP:
Employees should complain with the institution within 180 days starting from the date of the supposed discrimination. The term can be prolonged to 300 days if it refers to disability or status as a protected veteran discrimination. Moreover, it is also possible to ask for term extension if there is a good reason, for example, military deployment or health issue.
How You Can Complain to OFCCP:
Available options include:
- in person in your regional office;
- by phone 1–800–397–6251 (toll free help line);
- using electronic form. Now it is available in Vietnamese, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and English.
To complain with OFCCP you should include the comprehensive description of the alleged discrimination along with personal data.
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is given a task to combat hazardous working conditions. The agency governs and enforces The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
Who Can Complain to OSHA:
Employees or their representatives who come across violations of health and safety norms and regulations. They can request an inspection of their working conditions.
When You Can Complain to OSHA:
At any time, but about hazards that exist at the present moment or have existed within past 6 months.
How You Can Complain to OSHA:
Available options include:
If you want to complain about hazardous and dangerous working conditions it is a must to grant comprehensive information about possible hazards. To complain with OSHA the following information is required:
- equipment used at the site;
- materials used at the site;
- processes involved;
- employees injured (if any);
- duration of hazards;
- number of employees at the sire
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a US federal agency. Its main task is to enforce the anti-discrimination laws including:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act;
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act;
- The Civil Rights Act;
- The Age Discrimination Employment Act;
- The Equal Pay Act and other.
Who Can Complain to EEOC:
Employees who think that their employment rights have been infringed. Employees who come across discrimination in their workplace based on sex, sexual harassment, genetics, religion, retaliation, disability, pregnancy, race/color, nation origin, equal compensation, and age.
When You Can Complain to EEOC:
Employees can complain with the agency within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation. In case of a sound reason, the term can be extended to 300 days.
How You Can Complain to EEOC:
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not handle complaints online or by phone. In-person meeting is required. But employees can call 1 -800-669-4000 to provide basic information. All data will be redirected to the regional EEOC office. It is also possible to mail the required data. The details are:
- your name, address, contacts;
- your employer name, his/her address, contacts;
- list of anti-discriminative laws that have been allegedly violated;
- brief description of violation;
- dates of violation.
As a rule EEOC offers 2 possible ways out: EEO Counseling and Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. In accordance with the accepted procedure, the Agency must finish their investigation within 180 calendar days from the date of filing. If you disagree with their resolution, you can challenge it in the federal or state court. You can also file a formal complaint with EEOC asking for reconsideration. Reconsidered solution is final.
Sometimes employees want to handle a complaint against a supervisor or top management directly in a federal or state court. But do remember that before filing a lawsuit in a federal or state court you have to go through the administrative compliant process. However, there are some exceptions: age and gender-based pay discrimination. In such situations you are always entitled to skip the administrative process, and complain about violations directly to the court.
We highly recommend making every effort and resolving a dispute in person without filing a complaint against a supervisor to federal and/or state agencies or starting legal procedures. You had better talk to your employer pointing out all your concerns. Try not to wash dirty linen in public. Do not forget about HR department. In most companies HR departments have policies and regulations on how to settle conflicts between supervisors and employees. They can offer a fair compromise solution acceptable for both parties. In case HR managers fail to resolve a conflict, you should turn to upper level managers who directly oversee or control their supervisors.
If you fail to settle the dispute individually or with the help of your HR department, contact to the above-mentioned agencies or file a lawsuit.
Tips and Tricks on How to Complain about any Violation at Work
- Support all your claims with clear and convincing hard evidence (audio recordings, video recordings, e-mails, office notes, journal of labor protection briefings etc.);
- Make references to the articles (or provisions of the articles) of the labor law;
- Use official style to complain about violations of labor law, you may check out how to write an effective complaint letter;
- Avoid grammar and punctuation errors;
- State clearly defined requirements;
- Document everything that happened while you filing a complaint against your boss, or writing a complaint letter;
- Complain about violations in a condensed form.
Violations of labor law incur administrative, civil legal and even criminal liability depending upon the severity of the offence. All workers are entitled to protect themselves and complain about violations. Nobody is in power to infringe your rights, honor, dignity, and reputation.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal, medical, accounting, investment, or any other professional advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.