Who do you go to in your company when you can’t go to HR?

UPDATED: Nov 23, 2011

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Who do you go to in your company when you can’t go to HR?

I work for a small company and it’s also family owned. I think of myself as a hard worker and a valuable asset to the company. There are a lot of things said and done that I think are completely immoral and inappropriate. Typically you would go to your HR to discuss issues like this, lucky for me our HR openly hates me (and many others). I have never done anything to him/her to deserve the treatment. I get threatening emails when I make mistakes, disrespected, and often just hurt by the way I’m treated and there isn’t anything I can do. How do I proceed in this situation?

Asked on November 23, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Companies, whether family owned or not, do not need to be moral; they are not required to treat employees appropriately. Or rather--except as set out below, they do not need to be moral or act appropriately, and so, except as set out below, you probably do not have any recourse. The exceptions are:

1) No discrimination against employees on the basis of race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disabilty (under federal law; your state might add some other categories, such as sexual orientation or family status). If a company discriminates in this way against you, you could sue them, or else contact the appropriate state or federal agency (e.g. EEOC).

2) No retaliation against an employee for filing a protected claim (e.g. for overtime or discrimination) or using a protected benefit (such as FMLA leave). If this has happened, you could sue or else contact the appropriate agency (e.g. state department of labor).

3) If the company is doing something criminal--e.g. tax fraud; violating environmental regulations--you may be able to contact the appropriate agency (e.g. IRS).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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