It’s not a secret that unfairness at work is an absolutely frustrating problem.
There can a lot of issues like getting no credit for your work or your boss may have some favorites, or something else.
In any case, it is difficult to overcome, stressful and really annoying.
Despite which situation you may face, it still can be hard to confront your boss and resolve the problem.
If you think that you cannot do anything to overcome unfairness, this article is for you.
Of course, very often your boss has the last word and you can do nothing about it but sometimes it is possible to change the situation.
If the situation is genuinely unfair, you need to confront your boss about these problems.
It won’t be something easy to do but if you are doing everything properly, you can do it.
In this article, you can learn about various situations that can be considered as unfairness.
Sometimes, when you are right in the middle of the problem, you cannot identify it.
You and your colleagues not always can understand that there was some unfairness.
In the list below, you can find some examples of the unfairness at a workplace that you even cannot think about.
After it, we will observe some possible ways to resolve these situations and confront your boss.
You should know that there are some steps and options you can use in order to overcome the unfairness at your workplace.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 What Does Unfairness at Work Mean?
- 1.1 My Boss and a Coworker are Friends
- 1.2 Unfair Criticism
- 1.3 Scapegoating
- 1.4 Discrimination
- 1.5 Taking Credit Unfairly
- 1.6 Breaking Promises (Bonuses and Promotions)
- 1.7 Unfair Pay Structure
- 1.8 Only Getting Bad Shifts
- 1.9 Refusing Holidays
- 1.10 Excessive Punishment
- 1.11 Unrealistic Workload
- 1.12 Unfair Dismissal
- 2 Tips on Confronting Your Boss if You are a Victim of Unfairness at Work
- 3 Ways to Report Unfairness at Work
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4.1 What is an example of being treated unfairly by a workplace boss?
- 4.2 Can you sue for being treated unfairly at work?
- 4.3 Who do you call when you have a problem at work?
- 4.4 What qualifies as discrimination at work?
- 4.5 What do you do when your workload is unmanageable?
- 4.6 How do you prove unfair dismissal?
What Does Unfairness at Work Mean?
The main question is how we can identify unfairness at work?
In fact, there are lots of ways to identify it but some of the unfairness examples can be easily identified if you have a brother or a sister.
It may sound strange but sometimes unfairness at work can be really similar to family life.
So, let’s learn some examples of unfairness at work in order to help you understand what does it mean.
My Boss and a Coworker are Friends
Favoritism is one of the widest and clearest examples of unfairness.
It is the situation when your boss likes one of the workers more than others and appreciates his or her work most of all.
It may result in various types of unfair behavior but in any case, it means that your boss treats one of the workers much better than anyone other.
Unfair criticism can be a result of favoritism.
For example, your boss may intentionally look for faults in a project that you worked really hard on.
It is a situation when your boss doesn’t pay attention to your hard work and a good job you’ve done.
It happens because their aim is to find the disadvantages of your work that can demoralize you significantly.
At the same time, the boss’ favorites continue getting praise even if their projects are bad.
Scapegoating can be considered as one of the parts of narcissism.
It is exactly the situation that everything that is wrong, it is only your fault.
If you are constantly the one who is blamed, it is discouraging and hard as there are always some other people who are responsible for such a result.
Nevertheless, you are always the one who is blamed for any failure.
Discrimination can be considered as one of the highest forms of unfairness.
You can be discriminated because of your physical size, gender, religion or beliefs, gender, and color of your skin.
In fact, whatever the reason for the discrimination, you can do nothing about it.
You should know that discrimination is not only unfair but it is illegal as well.
According to research, discrimination is still a significant issue in the USA.
Taking Credit Unfairly
One other form of unfairness you may face is when your boss or any employee take credits unfairly.
For example, you’ve been working hard on some projects but it is someone else who told your boss about it and got all credits.
Sometimes, these people can not even mention you while reporting on the project.
It’s not a simple unfairness as because of it, you can miss out on bonuses, promotion, or salary rise.
Breaking Promises (Bonuses and Promotions)
One other point about salary and promotion, in some cases, your boss may promise you something for a certain job but after it is done, break the promise.
In other words, they just make promises to make you work hard.
They may promise you that you’ll get some great position in the nearest future but when you complete your work, they never try to keep their promises.
At the same time, others continue getting a promotion without any specific reasons that are absolutely unfair.
Unfair Pay Structure
Some companies have a taboo on discussing employers’ salary but it may happen that you learn about the salary of someone who performs the same duties.
Of course, it can an unpleasant surprise when you learn that this person has a higher salary.
It can especially hard if this person has only started to work or you’ve been discriminated.
In most cases, it is often based on gender discrimination.
According to the latest data, women still earn a lower salary than men and the difference is about 20% in the USA.
Only Getting Bad Shifts
If your work is based on shifts, it can be really unsatisfying when you get only bad shifts.
It may mean that you are the one who constantly gets late shifts.
Or, you may have no day shifts while continuing working only during mornings and nights.
You should know that it can have a bad impact on both your mental and physical health.
If you constantly work during bad shifts, it’s for sure an example of unfairness.
You cannot get your holidays when you really need it?
Does your boss constantly refuse to give you holidays because of no reason whenever you ask about it?
Of course, anyone had such a problem but if your boss’ favorites get holidays every time they ask about it, it is for sure unfair.
If you are punished because you broke a rule or did something wrong, it is something you should accept.
But if your punishment is too strict or even beyond the guidelines of the company, an others involved in the accident aren’t punished, it is unfairness.
Also, it is absolutely unfair, if you are punished for something that you haven’t been doing or it was not your fault.
It is especially unfair when you are punished for something that requires no punishment at all.
It often happens when bosses pile a huge workload on those workers they don’t like.
As a result, the work cannot deal with the work and fail so the boss can take his anger out on this worker.
If you want to understand whether you have an unfair workload, just compare it with the amount of work others do.
Do you have more duties and responsibilities than someone else who has the same position?
You are a victim of unfairness at the workplace.
One of the most significant examples of unfairness is dismissal because of no good reason.
If you were dismissed unfairly, you can always take some legal actions to resolve it.
You just need to know that it can be a challenging pass so you need to think this decision over.
In fact, you should try to talk to your boss first of all.
Tips on Confronting Your Boss if You are a Victim of Unfairness at Work
So, let’s pay attention to one of the most important questions: how to confront your boss about unfairness at work?
Of course, it’s not a simple issue as you cannot just come to your boss and ask them about your problem.
You need to fulfill some steps and follow a certain plain, to be able to resolve the issue.
Below, you can find a guide that will help you to confront your boss properly.
Contact HR to Ask for Guidance
The best decision is to resolve the issue just before you two but it is not so simple and likely it won’t work.
If you want to overcome the problem, you need to get in touch with your HR.
Just keep in mind that each company has its own recommendations about unfairness.
You should learn what you need to prove that your boss was unfair to you, use proper methods of resolution, and so on.
Get in touch with your HR to learn about proper procedures that will let you resolve the problem.
Make a Record of What’s Unfair
In most cases, HR may tell you to prepare some prooves of unfairness such as various records.
You need to make records any time you are shouted at with no reason or unfairly criticized.
It will give you an opportunity to build up a whole picture, see the unfair behavior and collect the evidence.
It is necessary if you want to be able to prove your story.
Have an Informal Chat with Your Boss
Before giving your records to HR, try to discuss the problem with your boss.
There is always a possibility that you’ll be able to resolve the problem.
Sometimes, it can be that your boss doesn’t even realize that he or she is unfair towards you.
If you are able to discuss the issue in a non-confrontational and genuine way, your boss might understand you.
It’s a great option if you want to help your boss understand that they did something wrong.
Make an Official Complaint
You need to learn how you can complain about your boss to his boss.
If you haven’t been able to resolve the problem in any other way, it’s time to make an official complaint to HR.
After it, an internal disciplinary process on your issue will be held.
It’s exactly the time you need to present your pieces of evidence.
If you follow all guidance, you’ll be able to prove that your boss was unfair to you.
As soon as the unfairness is prooved, your company decides on the next step using the disciplinary guidelines.
Sometimes, you may be obliged o take some more steps to resolve the problem.
If you were a victim of discrimination and it was prooved, you can take it to court.
You just need to keep in mind that it is a long and challenging process, so most people prefer to avoid it.
One other option is to look for some other job options.
Of course, you aren’t obliged to do it but it doesn’t mean you cannot.
Ways to Report Unfairness at Work
At this point, you may think that it is easy to report unfairness at work, but it is not so.
You just need to keep in mind some important aspects if you want to report unfair treatment.
So, let’s see what tips and steps you should consider if you want to do it.
Give Your Boss a Chance
First of all, you need to try to give a chance to your boss.
You should try to understand your boss and see his reasons.
If you try, you may found some good reason for your boss’ behavior and you didn’t even realize they exist.
Just try to think over the issue and see the whole situation from their perspective.
Also, try to discuss the whole situation with your boss.
Approach them in Private
If you are going to discuss this problem with your boss, make sure to do it in private.
Don’t try to start a conversation when there are people around you especially if it is a co-worker or a manager.
If you don’t follow this piece of advice there can be two ways it may turn out.
In the first case, your boss will deny everything to save his face and not to look bad.
The second variant is that your boss may see it as if you try to challenge his authority.
It may make the situation even worth.
Most bosses, especially unfair ones, don’t like when their authority is undermined.
It means that they do not just try to deny it but even may try to attack you.
Iy may turn into a serious accusation and affect you badly which is really risky.
In other words, a private meeting is the best option in such a case.
Don’t Let Emotion Cloud Your Judgment
If you’ve faced unfair treatment at work, it may be considered as a personal slight.
And you are totally right as if you’ve worked hard, you deserve to get a promotion or some bonuses.
Of course, you may feel really bad if you are treated unfairly at work.
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t influence your judgments.
You should keep in mind that screaming, shouting, behaving passively/aggressively or doing something similar won’t help you.
If your HR learn about it, it may cause even more problems for you.
Also, it is a great opportunity for your boss to get some excuses for his behavior.
In some cases, HR may not even try to consider your story because of your negative behavior.
In other words, you shouldn’t let your emotions control you and affect the situation.
Keep It in Perspective
As soon as you start seeing the situation as something monumental, it becomes such.
You should keep in mind that any problem can be resolved.
It may turn out that you can just talk to your boss and you’ll find a solution.
If it is not enough, you can always address HR.
In case, it didn’t work out, try to look for other jobs and you may find some even better options.
In other words, you need to remember that you can overcome any problem if you just give it a try.
Also, try not to exaggerate the situation and stay reasonable.
If your situation is really genuine, it will be resolved positively.
You don’t need to make your situation look worse than it is as you may be found out and your story will be questioned.
It will for sure please your boss but make everything even harder for you.
Don’t Discuss It with Others
Gossips never have a good impact.
If you tell the story to your co-workers, they may tell it others and your boss will learn about it.
You should know that it may cause even more problems.
Your unfair boss may get angry and start treating you even more unfair and aggressively.
In other words, till you find the ways to resolve the problem, try to avoid discussing it.
Define Your Aims
You need to make sure that you properly understand what is the aim of your confrontation.
Think over whether you really need a promotion or some bonuses from your current employer.
Maybe, you just trying to get over your boss and nothing else.
In some cases, it is better not to complain about the situation as sometimes seeking your revenge, you may just waste your time.
Be Time Sensitive
If you want to confront your boss, you need to consider the proper time.
You need to wait and choose the best time to discuss the problem with your boss.
Make sure, your boss has time to speak with you and he is in the right mood if you don’t want to worsen your confrontation.
The best option is to schedule your discussion and tell your boss that you want to discuss something with him.
You can talk in both formal and informal environment.
Don’t Downplay Your Experience
Most people prefer not to complain.
Of course, there are people who can and even like doing it but most people try to avoid such issues.
As a result, most people can add something like “…But it wasn’t as bad as it sounds!” when they try to complain about unfairness.
It is one of the biggest errors you can make.
It is more likely, that everyone wants to resolve the problem including your boss, HR and so on.
Sometimes, they may want to make it go away by any means.
In other words, if you say that the situation isn’t so bad, the company may pretend that there was no problem at all.
So make sure that your statement is clear and you’ve explained properly that the problem really exists.
Don’t Involve Others
Make sure you don’t involve others in your accusation.
For example, something unfair happened to you at the office party.
It means that there were witnesses that have seen your boss’ behavior.
Nevertheless, in most cases, you shouldn’t involve others in your problem.
It may happen that you inform HR about witnesses that saw the situation but these people don’t want to be involved in the whole situation.
What you are going to do in such a case?
It will make you sound like you are lying so it is better to rely on your own records.
When it is time to confront your boss, you need to reveal what you should do first.
First of all, you need to make sure you have enough evidence to prove that your boss is unfair towards you.
You don’t need to confront your boss immediately so just start collecting data that can prove your words.
As soon as you have enough records that can prove your words, it’s up to you whether you want to discuss it with your boss and HR.
Before starting the confrontation, you need to take into account such aspects as:
- Reasons to pursue the case;
- An extra plan that can be used if you wouldn’t be able to resolve the problem;
- Other job options if you don’t want to stay at your current job;
- Problem value (is it worth disciplinary proceeding?);
- Chances to resolve the issue successfully.
If you can tick each point from the list, it is better to go for it and try to resolve your problem.
But if it is not, it can be a better decision to look for other job options.
In any case, you shouldn’t avoid the problem.
Just choose the way you like and take actions to achieve your goal.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an example of being treated unfairly by a workplace boss?
There are many ways a boss could treat you unfairly at work.
Preferential treatment is one example.
The boss could promote another person instead of you, even though you were more qualified and had more experience.
The boss could give one person the best assignments and give someone else the job no one wants in an unfair manner.
Letting some get by with coming in late, but not others is another example.
Can you sue for being treated unfairly at work?
You can sue for anything, and you can sue for unfair treatment, but it is hard to prove.
Often unfair treatment is subjective, and you cannot prove the boss singled you out.
You would have to prove the treatment was intentional as well.
The unfairness would have to be related to a protected class, such as a racial minority, female, handicapped, older, or gender.
Who do you call when you have a problem at work?
Companies often have a person you can call if you have issues with another person or a boss, and companies large enough have a human relations office.
Remember, however, these people are employees and will be looking out for the company’s best interest.
You can consult a lawyer, but cases can be hard to prove.
You can call the police if there is criminal activity.
What qualifies as discrimination at work?
Discrimination at work is when you are treated unfairly because of your race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, or age.
Unfortunately, unfair treatment for other reasons is not illegal.
You must prove that the unfair treatment happened because you are one of the protected class members.
It can be hard to prove but it can be done.
What do you do when your workload is unmanageable?
There are a few options when your workload is unmanageable.
Talking with your supervisor is the first step, and hopefully, they can help you get it to where it is more manageable.
Stop saying yes when you do not have to, establish priorities, accept that some things will not get done, are a few things you can do.
Establishing what a reasonable workload is with your supervisor is one key.
How do you prove unfair dismissal?
It is hard to prove unfair dismissal.
You must prove that the reason you were given was wrong and that the firing was for an illegal reason.
Discrimination is often given as an illegal reason.
Also realize that most states are “at-will” states, meaning they can fire you with or without reason at any time just as you can quit with or without reason at any time.