It is accurate to say that at one time or another every employee is unhappy or annoyed with what goes on at work. These problems can come from the owners, managers, supervisors, co-workers, the amount of work to be done, or any irritant. Even the building where the work is done may cause problems. The employee must evaluate the problem. Is it an issue that can be resolved by an attorney? Does an attorney even need to be involved? Is it a health issue? Is it a legal issue? Is it something that can be fixed?
I receive many calls from employees who believe that they have legitimate legal grievances against their employers only to find out that the grievance is not covered by any current laws. This could be due to the employer not having a sufficient number of employees or that the unfair action is not considered to be discrimination by the law. Many times these issues involve departments where one group of employees gossips about another group who are all the same in age, sex, race, etc. Or it can be an issue of certain employees being friends with some people and not with others. These may be issues that not only are not covered by the law but are not even covered by the company rules.
For most employees, once they find out that their complaints cannot go anywhere in the court system, they drop the fight and go on working at the same company. However, there are some people who continue to fight even when there is no legitimate way to resolve their issues in a legal venue. The continuation of fighting may include filing lots of internal grievances, writing memos, spending time concentrating on the problem rather than work, or merely telling anyone who will listen about the issue. Or the continuation of fighting may include meeting with several attorneys until the employee finds one who is willing to sue the employer.
From the employer’s standpoint it is difficult to keep an employee who spends time being disgruntled and spreading his or her negativity to other workers. It is hard on the employer to have an employee who will not let go of a problem, especially when the problem has no real solution. This snowballs into poor reviews, promotions not given, and other lost career benefits, which in turn gives the disgruntled employee additional issues to complain about.
We are living in an economy where employers can outsource thousands of jobs, lay off entire plants, or terminate large numbers of people without any warning and without any employment law consequences. Employees must keep this in mind every day. There is no guarantee that work will ever be a fun place to be, and there is no guarantee that your boss will be fair. Once you have looked at all your options and have been told that there is nothing that can be done about the problem, you need to let it go and get back to work. I will leave you with what an Illinois appellate judge once told me: “In employment law, unfair is not always illegal.”