How Do I Make an Internal Workplace Complaint with HR in California?
Photo credit: AdobeStock/Adam Gregor

An employee who feels wronged by an employer may want to make an internal complaint with their human resources department in order to stop workplace discrimination or harassment in its tracks. However, many workers are frightened about heading to HR to file a complaint for a myriad of reasons; whether they feel that HR won’t take them seriously, or even retaliate against them.

While making an internal complaint with HR may be scary, it is crucial for you to stand up for your rights if you feel that your employer is violating California or federal employment laws. But what is the best way to file an internal complaint with HR? Follow these tips if you are considering heading to HR to make sure that your internal complaint is heard and responded to appropriately.

Steps for Filing an Internal Complaint with HR

  • Peruse Your Employee Handbook

While employee handbooks differ from company to company, they must all include certain sections — including one on how employees can file workplace complaints with HR. Before heading to HR, review the policy to ensure you file your internal complaint correctly. Sometimes, you may have to adhere to specific actions before making your complaint with HR. Always follow these strict guidelines or your complaint may fall on deaf ears.

  • Write Everything Down

While you should always document every instance of workplace discrimination or harassment as soon as it occurs (just in case you need to head to HR or an employment lawyer), you can always go back and retrace what hostile behaviors you have been subjected to. In chronological order, using dates, times, and names of workers involved, simply detail all actions that occurred which could warrant harassment or discrimination. Be as specific as possible and refer to your company’s employee handbook to make note of any company policies or employment laws that your employer may have violated. If witnesses were involved, include their names.

Tip: Always stay professional when describing the hostile workplace behaviors. While it can be easy to get caught up in our emotions when we feel violated, take a few deep breaths, and then write everything down.

  • Include Evidence of Hostile Behaviors

While witnesses such as coworkers, clients, or customers may be able to help your case, evidence of discriminatory or harassing behaviors are your best bet of getting the results you want from filing your complaint. In addition to documenting witnesses, always include copies of emails, voicemail messages, text messages, photos, or other documents that will support your complaint.

  • Head to HR with Your Internal Complaint

Once you have your formal complaint ready to go, along with your company’s required internal complaint forms, it is time to head to the proper HR representative who handles the complaints. If you are unsure of who the employee complaint handler is, simply ask HR. During this process, you may have to answer questions for the HR representative to determine the nature of your complaint, so be prepared by reviewing your documents to make sure your answers to these questions are the same as the details in your written complaint.

  • If HR Doesn’t Help, Contact an Employment Attorney

Sometimes, HR will not respond to your complaint appropriately or representatives may not do anything to stop harassing or discriminatory behaviors at work. If HR representatives are ignoring your complaints or being bullies themselves, it’s important to contact an expert California employment attorney who can help you navigate these and other workplace issues. Your employment lawyer can help you file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in a timely manner.

Do You Need a California Employment Lawyer?

If HR fails to help you, rest assured that our passionate Los Angeles employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz are here to fight for your rights and resolve your workplace discrimination or harassment issues. Contact us today for a free consultation.