How to Report Unfair Labor Practices

By Eric Feigenbaum
State and federal agencies can help you deal with unfair employment practices.

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Federal and state labor and anti-discrimination laws are made to protect everyone. If you find yourself in a situation where your employer is treating you improperly -- with either a wage and hour violation, or by acting in a discriminatory or harassing manner -- you have access to many resources. State and federal agencies are available to resolve your issue and to protect you against reprisals from your employer.

Call your state's department of labor for labor, wage and hour complaints. Talk to a consultant about your complaint, to make sure they address your issue. Give the consultant as much concrete information as you can, highlighting exactly where you have been shortchanged on your pay, or asked to perform labor that is at odds with your understanding of the law. If you aren't sure if your employer's practice is illegal, you can ask the department representative.

Complete and file a complaint form with the your state department of labor. Many states, including California and North Carolina, make complaint forms available online. When you complete the forms, you will need to provide a detailed statement about what has been going on, including as much detail as possible about any payment shortages or illegally-demanded hours. Include photocopies of pay stubs, bank statements showing deposits, timecards and any other tangible proof you can furnish.

Visit the website of the Federal Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division for issues pertaining to compensation and time worked. The department gives a complete listing of laws explaining federal wage and hour laws, as well as a thorough FAQ. If you aren't sure if laws pertain to your situation, the DOL furnishes contact information. The DOL also makes forms available for online filing.

Contact the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for issues related to workplace safety and the physical conditions of your workplace. Their complaint division makes information and complaint forms available online.

File a complaint with your state's department of labor or workforce development commission if your issue is a discriminatory labor practice, including preferential hiring, harassment or mistreatment based on race, gender, national origin, age, maternity status, and in some states, sexual orientation.

Use the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's online complaint site to easily file a case against your employer if you have faced any unfair labor practices related to age, sex, race, religion, national origin, maternity or ethnic identity. This encompasses on-the-job harassment, discrimination in the workplace, and hiring discrimination.

About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.

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