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Is HR the best place to lodge a discrimination complaint?

Before you go to the human resources department complaining that you are experiencing discrimination issues, think carefully about your claim and what HR will do about it.

Depending on the nature of the problem, HR may or may not act. Furthermore, they may or may not keep your complaint and the information you provide confidential. So, do you have another option?

Their reason for being

The human resources department exists to enforce rules and regulations. The professionals there have oversight over employee salaries, medical insurance and benefits. While employers encourage employees to take problems to HR, there are some matters human resources personnel will not act on. If, for example, you feel offended because a coworker is being rude to you, HR will likely feel it is your responsibility to work that out on your own. If, however, you contend that your employer passed you up for a promotion because of religious discrimination, the law requires HR to investigate the situation.

Confidentiality concerns

Keep in mind that, unlike a physician or an attorney, HR has no obligation to keep the information you provide to themselves. They will keep your medical and salary information confidential, but if the matter you bring to them is about something that could be illegal, HR must investigate, and other people will have to know about it. You may be afraid of being demoted or losing your job depending on how the investigation plays out. If that makes you uncomfortable, you might want to pursue another avenue for managing your discrimination complaint.

Seeking legal help

An attorney experienced with cases that involve employee rights can confirm there are many forms of discrimination, from crude jokes at an employee's expense to passing someone up for promotion because of a religious bias, which may be what has happened to you. If you are nervous about the way HR would handle your complaint and the possibility of retaliation by a superior, you do have the option of reaching out for legal assistance. A consultation will help you determine the next steps to take.

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