About To Complain To Management? Think Big Picture First.

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

Are you gearing up to give management an earful about all the wrongs they have been committing?

Before you confront management, please give thought to the big picture. Especially if you are right, and you have proof you are right.

Being right is not enough. Say your employer thinks the sky is green, and fires you because you insist it is blue. You may be right, but you are still fired. And if you intend on proving, to the point of a legal judgment, that the sky is in fact blue, you could have several years of litigation, and years of significant expense, to look forward to. In some instances, a lawsuit is an option that can be very effective and/or affordable (e.g. contingency), but you should not assume that unless an attorney has told you that assessment.

Most companies know of the difficulties for an employee described above. When you confront their management (especially when you do not know your legal rights and don’t have an attorney representing you) they know that they hold important cards- your job and income- and that they can take them away. Abruptly. If they fire you, they know you will have no income, and that you’ll probably need income if you wish to enforce your legal rights.

Are you thinking about all these dynamics when you’re planning to confront your manager?

Now, it’s true that if you complain about your employer’s wrongdoing, there are laws that protect against retaliation. There are also laws that prohibit speeding and Bernie Madoff-ing, and you can see how effective those laws are as applied to reality. Sometimes those laws are effective- sometimes wrongdoers get caught and don’t squirm out of a significant legal penalty. But too often the real-life penalties do not turn out like the wronged person would like to think.

Before you give your manager an earful, make sure you have a back-up plan if they fire you. A real back-up plan. A new job lined up. A nest egg saved up.

Consider getting advice from a competent attorney, who tells you what potential legal claims, options and costs are at issue. You can take that information into account in deciding an appropriate course of action.

But if you assume that simply being right is enough to make things work out, you are rolling the dice. Please educate yourself and plan carefully before confronting management or considering legal action.