Unfair treatment at work can destroy morale. Sometimes the unfair treatment is done accidentally, but, most of the time, the unfair treatment is a very deliberate act on the part of the management (or corporation). In some cases, the unfair treatment can actually be illegal. What is always true is that unfair treatment at work makes more problems than it solves, breeds animosity and distrust among employees, and creates an extremely uncomfortable work environment.
If you belong to a union, you have some protection against unfair treatment at work. Good unions will fight for the rights of the employees, and should ensure that certain things are done. This includes anything from making sure that employees get their breaks on time, to making sure that employees who work overtime (or on holidays) get the extra money they have earned by doing so, to forcing employers to provide their workers with some form of health care insurance. What unions can’t always help with is the unfair treatment at work that isn’t so clear cut, or so easy to prove. If you work for a large, retail, corporation, there may be no union to help you at all. In fact, if you even mention the idea of a union at some retail jobs, you run the risk of being fired, just for talking about it!
Unfair treatment at work comes in many forms. Unsure if you are being treated unfairly at work? Here are a few examples:
(1)The corporation, (or company), hires someone for a top level or management position from outside the company, passing over the loyal employee who has worked for the company for years and years. This is especially unfair treatment if the loyal employee has been doing the job the outside person has been hired for, (and even worse if the loyal employee will be expected to train the new person!)
(2)There is a new boss, and suddenly, the entire workplace is experiencing an extreme amount of “job strain”. Job strain happens when a worker is expected to do a large amount of work in too short of time, with little or no control over how, when, and with what tools said work will get done in. If you find that you are unable to obtain the tools you are required to use to get this job done in, that adds to your job strain. Job strain, and the detrimental effects it has on a person’s health is compounded by how long a person has to put up with excessive job strain. This treatment at work is especially unfair if the workers were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing before the new boss showed up, and arbitrarily changed the rules and job descriptions.
(3)When you were hired, you were granted a certain number of sick days, personal days, and vacation days. As time goes on, you find more and more rules created that prevent you from using the paid time off you have earned. For example, if you are told that no one can take vacation days during “the holidays” and learn that the holidays are defined as the entire months of October, November, December, and January, this is unfair treatment at work. If, at the same time, you notice that certain employees seem to get to take days off whenever they want to, with little notice provided, this is especially unfair treatment at work.
(4)You feel sick, and see a doctor. The doctor says that you are contagious, or simply too sick to go to work for the next few days. You, being a good employee, immediately inform your place of business that you will not be in for the next few days, “doctor’s orders”. Each and every day you are out, resting, and trying to get better, someone from your job calls you, and harasses you about bringing in a doctor’s note, to prove that you actually were sick, (making it difficult, if not impossible, to actually rest and get healthy again). This is especially unfair treatment if you are known for bringing in a doctor’s note every time you are sick on the day you return to work, if you know that not all employees are being harassed in this way, or if this was not the way things were handled in the past (and no one was polite enough to let the employees know about that change). If your workplace is demanding to know the exact reasons why you were sick (or what you had), this unfair treatment has moved from distressing to actually illegal.
(5)You overhear people gossiping, or “talking trash” about other employees, (or former employees), who are not present at that moment to defend themselves. You find that the people doing the gossiping are the managers. It is unfair for managers to pass judgement about the personal or social lives or their workers, so long as that person’s job is not affected because of what they do on their off time. Comments about how a worker chooses to raise her children, about the wild things they suspect an employee might be doing on his days (or nights) off, or how an employees marriage is going is not only inappropriate and unprofessional, but just plain unfair.
What can you do about unfair treatment in the workplace? If you feel that you will be heard, you can complain, or at least point out the unfair treatment. In a good workplace, changes for the better will be made, and mistakes corrected. In a corrupt workplace, you run the risk of becoming the target of even more unfair treatment at work, just because you spoke up and “made trouble” for the managers. Choose wisely. If all else fails, use your anger at the constant unfair treatment at work as the fuel to get you moving, to a better, more fair, job!