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Do’s and don’ts of voicing complaints

Employees often author their own workplace misfortunes.  Few takeadvantage of this country’s lenient labour laws and fewer challengetheir employer’s decisions, however unjust.

Employees often author their own workplace misfortunes. Few take advantage of this country’s lenient labour laws and fewer challenge their employer’s decisions, however unjust. Most will just complain. But if you have an inclination to fight back, here are some key do’s and don’ts:

Do not expect that promotional decisions will be made fairly. There is no legal requirement to promote the longest serving or most meritorious employee.

Do protest your employer’s decisions that you disagree with, such as a poor performance appraisal, and do it in writing. Failing to respond simply conveys to your employer that you agreed with its decision or at least that you did not care enough to complain.

Do not sign contracts without negotiating first. Employers deliberately prepare employer friendly agreements, since most people will just agree to what they are given, happy to get anything at all. Contracts are always negotiable – so push back on one-sided terms.

Do be wary of skeletons in your closet. Just about every employee has one. If yours is so bad you can’t risk it being exposed, then do not challenge your employer’s decision to discipline or dismiss you, however unjust. Some workplace skeletons, although not harmful to your case, will ultimately be harmful to your career.

Do not leave agreements to handshakes or memory. Employers conveniently “forget” about oral agreements once employees leave and courts often refuse to intervene without written evidence of a deal. If there is something important enough to agree to, then put it into writing or you risk it not being enforced.

Do not assume your position is safe. No job is. Employers maintain the right to restructure, without an explanation, as long as some notice or severance is provided.

Do pick your battles prudently: In one recent case, the employee lost because he refused to complete an important assignment, mistakenly believing it was not part of his job. Do not expect a court or your employer’s sympathy when you challenge whether you should perform your work.

Daniel Lublin is an employment lawyer with Whitten &?Lublin LLP.

Daniel A. Lublin is an employment lawyer with Whitten & Lublin LLP. Reach him at dan@toronto-employmentlawyer.com. Follow him on Twitter @danlublin.

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