For months you tolerated the questionable actions of supervisors at your workplace. But things grew worse. Mocked, belittled and bullied because of your race, gender and religion, you eventually understood that this was not questionable behavior, rather illegal behavior. Their actions were more than just slights, and their behavior represented discrimination.
Now, what do you do? Do you contact human resources? Do you consider legal action? Something inside you makes you hesitate. You wonder whether they will believe you. Also, you know you would be putting your career on the line. These are among the reasons victims of workplace discrimination decline to report such behavior.
Retaliation, distrust, troublemaker
There are several reasons that victims of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment do not report such illegal incidents. They include:
- Fear of retaliation: You suspect your employer may get back at you by firing, suspending and demoting you, or scheduling you for fewer hours and undesirable work shifts.
- Concerns on how it would affect their career: You and your family depend on that regular paycheck. You suspect termination is a possibility, so you avoid making others aware of your situation.
- Distrust of the system and the potential outcome: Do you trust your managers and human resources representatives? Many workers do not, and they may have a cynical view of whether resolution is possible or will even work in their favor.
- Having their complaints dismissed and not taken seriously: Peers and managers may scoff at your allegations, dismissing them immediately. Why go through this process when an employer does not believe you?
- Fear of getting the label of malcontent and troublemaker: Such mistreatment really happened to you. However, you may not want to rock the boat, fearing that you may become a pariah in the workplace.
In situations of harassment and discrimination, it is critical to speak up and consider taking legal action against an employer. While many employers understand the seriousness of such accusations and seek to remedy them, other employers may not and do not. Remember that speaking up will pave an easier path for the people who follow you.