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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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).


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