• S. Anne Marie Archer

When Should I Report Discrimination to my Manager & Human Resources (HR)?

One of the questions I am often asked by clients and potential clients is when to report discrimination at work to management and Human Resources.

Often when potential clients come to me, they have reported nothing. They may have documented many instances of problematic behavior but they have not reported it to anyone.

Sometimes they admit fear of retaliation as the primary barrier to reporting and other times they say they were not sure whether it was something they could or should report. I am hoping this blog post and this video on YouTube forever lay this question to rest.

The time to report any act or action at work that you deem discriminatory is as close as possible to when it occurs.

Document it (more on that in a future blog post), and report it right away! If you are unsure of how to appropriately report and to whom you should report, READ your employee handbook, most of them will have Equal Employment Opportunity provisions that include reporting of discrimination. Also look for policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, whistleblowing, and bullying. All of those policies will usually include reporting sections. Read them and follow them. If you cannot find any of those policies in your handbook (your employer is a problem) report your concerns to your manager IF s/he is not the wrongdoer. Do the following:

· Report your concerns verbally and then follow up in writing (email is good).

· Give them time to act and respond (2 weeks is reasonable).

· Follow up with them about your concerns, if there is no action on their part.

· If there is no action, or their action does not resolve your concerns, or there is any retaliation against you, go to Human Resources with your concern and report it to them.

Follow the same process with Human Resources (HR) and document everything that happens. If HR opens an investigation, it can take longer to get a resolution so keep track and stay in touch with them if they opt for a full investigation into your concerns.

By escalating these issues timely to not just your direct manager but HR you are creating a record and trail for future action if it is needed.

If your manager retaliates against you in any way, document and report those actions to HR as well. Retaliation could be in the form of demotion, taking key projects away from you, making problematic comments to you or about you in meetings with others, or behind your back. Dealing with retaliation at work can be very stressful but, in many ways, it can be a gift, as it often violates your companies’ written policies, it can support a future claim of discrimination and/or a request for separation with severance. Don’t let retaliatory actions scare you, just document and report each occurrence.

Do this for EVERY incident you experience. If matters are resolved appropriately that is a good outcome and your employer is doing the right thing. If they are not, that is where I come in.

If you cannot get your employer to appropriately resolve acts of discrimination in your workplace, enroll in my 4-part Hostile Work Environment Escape Strategy Webinar Series. It will walk you through each step needed to identify, document, report, request, and negotiate separation from an employer with severance based on discriminatory actions. If you’d rather work with me 1:1 you can book a Hostile Work Environment Escape Strategy Discovery Call with me HERE. Participants in the webinar series receive a 10% discount on 1:1 consultation packages.

If you need advice to resolve other HR issues or concerns, book an HR consultation discovery call with me HERE.

Discrimination in the workplace in the United States is illegal and you should never keep it to yourself. Document and report incidents immediately. Give your management and HR department a reasonable amount of time to resolve them and if they do not, ACT.

I hope this advice is helpful.

I am your HR Lady and I am here to help.


No information provided on this page or website should be construed or interpreted to be legal advice neither does any information received on this page, on this website, in webinars or 1:1 consultation(s) create a lawyer-client relationship.

If you wish to determine whether you are a victim of legally defined discrimination in your state or jurisdiction, consult a licensed attorney promptly.

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