When you work for an employer, you are general under that company’s control. This means that you have to work the hours that you are assigned, conform to any dress code that may be in place and other adhere to company policies. However, an employer may not institute rules or take other actions that may discriminate against you or create a hostile working environment. How do you know if your company has violated the law?
1. You Feel Uncomfortable Around Your Colleagues
If you fear coming to work or dread working around certain people, it may constitute a hostile working environment. In other words, your working conditions are hostile to your best interests as they pertain to being a productive employee. This may occur because someone is sexually harassing you, is threatening your physical safety or is spreading rumors about you to others.
2. You Get Questionable Written or Verbal Warnings
It is possible for even the best employees to find themselves on the wrong end of a verbal or written warning. However, if you are admonished after reporting harassment or otherwise complaining to management, it may be an act of retaliation by your employer.
This is generally illegal, and you should use it as evidence if you file a formal compliant with a government agency or decide to file a lawsuit. An employment lawyer may also wish to see your personnel file to help bolster your wrongful termination or unfair dismissal case.
3. Your Employer Won’t Let You File a Formal Complaint
As a formal complaint could be used as evidence in a case where you believe that your work rights were violated, a company may simply refuse to let you file a complaint. It may also try to alter any complaint that you do make in an effort to make it seem like it has any alleged workplace issues under control. In the event that you don’t think that your employer would let you file a complaint, ask someone to come with you as you make that attempt. That way, you have proof that your efforts were rebuffed.
4. You Aren’t Allowed to See the Company’s Written Harassment Policy
An employer is generally required to have a harassment policy in writing. However, this doesn’t mean that the company is going to let you see it. In many cases, it is designed to protect management from liability in a lawsuit as opposed to being a meaningful policy to help protect workers. Therefore, not being able to see this policy should be a red flag that something is wrong.
5. Your Manager Gives an Illegal Reason for Termination
If you are lucky, your employer will give you a reason as to why you were terminated even if employment law in Canada forbids it. While most employers will try to give a generic reason as to why you may have been terminated or dismissed, some may believe that they are above the law. In some cases, they may not know the law well enough to avoid making such a mistake. If possible, try to record or get transcripts of any conversations that you have with HR or anyone else who gives you an official reason for firing you.
If your employer violates employment law, you could be entitled to compensation. You may also be entitled to have your job back if you want it. Punitive damages and other relief may also be available. Ideally, you will file a lawsuit or take other action as soon as possible to resolve the matter in a timely manner. You may be interested in Whitten & Lublin if you want more information.