“If I file a complaint against a colleague, can HR turn it around and blame me?”

Question: Recently, I filed a formal complaint about an individual on our team for verbal abuse. To my surprise, I am being told that it is I, not he, who is “in conflict.” I think that this may be HR’s way of choosing him over me, because I am an engineer, and he is a geologist, and geologists are the ones who really run our division, and HR always supports them. 

While they have made him apologize to me, it seems they are now turning this around, and making a case that I am at fault. I have never had a single complaint against me, for conduct issues, for performance, or for anything at all.

I have submitted everything in writing I can think of to support myself and my version of events. Is there anything else I can do?

        Sarah             
        Calgary, Alberta, Canada     

Answer: The facts you present make out a case of possible retaliation for filing the complaint in the first case. These are the things I suggest you do now:

1. Find out if your Employer has an Anti-Retaliation Policy. You might start with the Employee Handbook, the Company Policy Manual, and the company’s website. 
2. Find out if your Canadian province or federal law prohibit retaliation for filing complaints of hostility, as most states and the U.S. federal law do.
3. Raise the issue of “retaliation” for exercising your own rights, that is, filing a complaint.
4. The “retaliation” issue should be sent not to HR, but to the Division President, CEO or Board of Directors, because it seems it may be HR, itself, that is doing the retaliation.
5. Of course we raise these issues in the form of emails, so it is written, and it can be proven that it was sent and received.
6. Make sure you note the obvious: it was only after you filed a complaint, that a complaint was filed about you: that looks like the very picture of “retaliation.”
7. You may also want to consult with an experienced employment attorney in your locale.
8. In all events, hang in there. That cannot be underestimated. 

Hope this helps. I really do.  I hope, too, you’ll let us know how it goes for you using our “Feedback Invited” form.

          Best, Al Sklover  

P.S.: Been retaliated against? Use our “Model Memo Objecting to Retaliation on the Job” to stop it and have it reversed. “What to Say, and How to Say It,™ just [ click here. ] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.