Dealing with Diversity Complaints as a Person

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A discrimination complaint is an allegation by an employee of unfair treatment in some aspect of employment based upon the individual’s race, religion, age, gender, color, national origin, disability, or status as a disabled or Vietnam era veteran or any other characteristic protected by law.

What to Do If You’re Involved in a Complaint

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Gather the following information:

  • Your name, full address, home/work telephone number, email address
  • The name, full address and phone number of the person, agency or organization you believe discriminated against you
  • The details about what happened to you, including dates, times, who was involved, as well as names of possible witnesses
  • Printed copies of corporate email messages, memoranda, or any discriminatory-incident witness information
  • Copies of human resources or corporate policies
  • Facts about when you believe your civil rights were violated, or your colleague’s rights were violated
  • Any other relevant information you believe will be helpful in the case.

Go to your direct supervisor and ask for a private meeting. State your complaint. Answer any questions your supervisor or manager asks. Your supervisor may complete a complaint form or take notes, ask you to review the information for accuracy, and sign the document.  Ask for a copy once it is signed.

Understanding Your Role

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After you give your complaint to your supervisor, he or she will refer the case to human resources. A member of the human resources department typically will investigate and analyze the incident.

Keep a log of any related events that occur after you have made the complaint. Save any written materials that relate to your case. Refrain from discussing the complaint with your co-workers — or anyone else.

You can expect to be interviewed by an employee of your company acting as an investigator, or by an outside investigator, who will explain the interview process to you. The person whom you are accusing of discrimination will also be interviewed. After all the facts are gathered and analyzed, a decision will be made in the case.

Creating a Support System

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First, take comfort in the fact that it is illegal for anyone in the organization to retaliate against you because you file a discrimination complaint.

Know that the process can take weeks or months. Try to remain calm; do not let your emotions get the best of you. Remember that you are protected by the law and have basic rights in the workplace; therefore, if you’ve been wronged, there is no reason to overreact, as the process should help to make things right.

Keep the lines of communication open with your supervisor. Continue your normal work arrival and performance routines. However if you feel you need some time away from work to re-center yourself, discuss this option with your supervisor. It is very important that you not resign your position, as this might have a negative effect on your case.

It is natural that what you are going through produces stress. In order to diffuse any added stress:

  • Spend time with your family and friends
  • Try to enjoy your hobbies
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Eat well and exercise
  • Perform relaxation or stress reduction exercises.
  • Use self-talks to affirm to yourself that you have worth.

Module Nine: Case Study

Yvette watched as her manager, Shen, walked past her cubicle. She got up to tell him something, and then she had a thought and turned back around.

Shen saw her and asked, “Can I help you, Yvette?”

Yvette said, “Actually, I was wondering if I could meet with you privately to talk about something later today?”

Shen opened up his calendar. “Sure, how about 4 ‘o clock today?”

Yvette agreed to this and went back to her cubicle. She had finally decided to make a formal complaint, but then she remembered that she needed to prepare first. Yvette wrote down details about what happened to her, including dates, times, who was involved, as well as names of possible witnesses. Then, she also wrote down ideas that she had for how the situation could be resolved. Yvette went to the meeting relaxed and prepared.