Do you feel you are being unfairly treated at work? Unfair treatment at work is a serious issue that can destroy morale and destroy even the best of teams. It creates a very uncomfortable workplace environment that sometimes leads to an increase in sick days and reduced productivity. In some cases, this kind of unfair treatment can even be illegal, and workers may have a reason to sue for unfair dismissal if they are forced to leave their job due to abusive treatment at work. The first step to identify unfair treatment at work is learning the many forms it may take.

Extra Work But No Pay

This kind of unfair treatment is sadly very common, and it can be pretty difficult to identify as it usually starts with just a few extra hours, until after a while the extra hours seem to become part of your routine. It is illegal in many states to ask workers to work through their breaks or put in extra hours routinely without pay. If you are being given extra work, but not the means or tools to accomplish it then that could also be considered unfair treatment. This happens often during economic downturns, as companies try to make the most with as few employees as possible.

Raise your voice if you think this is just accidental, and your boss is just not aware of the extra strain he is putting on you. Otherwise you risk it becoming just something that is expected, and working extra hours every day can lead to damaging health issues, commonly known as job strain.

Bulling In the Workplace

Bulling is not acceptable, but it’s more common that it would seem in many workplaces. Being yelled at, screamed at or attacked verbally is clearly unfair treatment at work and should be reported to your superiors before it becomes a bigger problem. A bad boss can create an environment that is unproductive and stressful in just a few weeks if his approach to management involves abusing his team, so it’s in the best interests of your company to prevent this from happening or stop it on its tracks.

Differential Treatment

Bosses who play favorites also open themselves to accusations of unfair treatment. For example, a boss that prioritizes particular team members over others in terms of choosing days off, or one who prevents some members of the team to take holidays while letting others go easily. Being asked to train your boss (or workmates) without it being reflected on your pay or promotion possibilities can also be classed as unfair treatment at work, though it’s something so subjective it is sometimes difficult to prove.

Abusive Terms

Black out days (days when employees can’t take holidays) that aren’t perfectly justified by business reasons can also be seen as abusive, particularly if they force employees to take holidays only during a couple of months of the year when the company has low levels of business. Any contractual terms that would deny a worker the rights given to him by law would also fall under this remit.

Contract changes that make the contract unfairly sided with the employee, such as a notice period that is much longer for the employee than for the employer, can land the company in a world of legal trouble.

Harassment After Taking Sick Days

If you are sick, you should see a doctor and do whatever the doctor says to get better, even if it includes taking sick days and staying home. Bosses who don’t understand this and harass their workers about coming back to the office early are exposing the rest of the workplace to potentially dangerous contagion. At the same time, since a worker pays for a health plan, sick days are a right and not allowing a worker to take days off on medical advice is plain old unfair treatment.

Harassing a recovering employee by calling him at all hours to bring a sick note to the office (this can wait until the employee is back at work) or asking them to work remotely or disclose the exact reasons why they took sick leave is also illegal, and no employee should just take it and comply.

What Can You Do About Unfair Treatment At Work?

If you are subjected to unfair treatment at the workplace, your first point of call should be your union, if you belong to one. They can help you fight for your rights and ensure you don’t suffer from retribution from your boss. Unions fight for the rights of the employee, and their task is to ensure basic worker rights such as breaks or overtime are respected.

If you don’t belong to a union, contact your HR department but be prepared to document the abuse and be clear and calm when explaining your grievances. HR are there to act as mediators (and they want to protect the company from legal issues or a demotivated, abused workplace) but you will need to keep your cool and be specific if you want them to take you seriously.

I some cases, particularly small companies where your boss is also the owner, you may need to find another job. Despite being unfairly treated, keep in mind that your boss may be asked for references so take the higher ground and avoid telling him how much of a waste of breathable air he or she is. Always put your health first, and don’t just let suffering from unfair treatment at work affect your personal life.

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