This article is not a guide on getting revenge. You aren’t going to learn secret loopholes to get Janet from accounting fired because she stole your parking spot last week, or because you’re gunning for your boss’s job and he’s never going to quit.
What this article is going to cover is the proper way to handle disputes in the office, how to file grievances with HR, how to respond to harassment or discrimination, and how to clear the way for somebody to get fired if they are incompetent or harmful to the company. For any situation that leaves you unhappy or hurt, from a stolen parking spot to feeling harassed, a good first step is talking to the offender. It might be possible to resolve an issue without involving HR or management — much less escalating to termination.
Table of Contents
Ensure You Have Legitimate Grounds for a Complaint
Nothing is more annoying or frustrating than a person who complains about everything. The office is too cold, the coffee is too hot, their desk-mate gave them a mean look, somebody posted a gif of a TV show they don’t like in the company chat — all of these are examples of complaints that don’t need to be reported to HR or a manager.
Before you send that email or walk over to HR to complain about something, take a minute to really think about it. You need to make sure you have a legitimate and important complaint that requires getting others involved. This is, in part, to avoid a “Boy who cried wolf” situation when you have a real problem.
Consult your employer’s policy handbook for violations, or if you are feeling harassed, discriminated against, or bullied. These are legitimate reasons to file a formal complaint. Whether it’s somebody’s work behavior, habits, or quality of work, make sure it’s big enough for somebody to get fired over. Don’t be petty, and if you are unsure it qualifies as a fireable offense, talk it over with a neutral third party.
Document the Offensive Behavior
If you want to get somebody fired, or at least formally disciplined, you need to have proof. Simply saying that something bad happened might get management to pay closer attention, or call the offender in to talk about it, but not much else can be done. You need to document what the problem is thoroughly.
If you want to get a person fired because of incompetence at their job, find examples of bad work they’ve done, and good work from others to compare it to. Be able to clearly explain why their work is subpar and how it affects you and the company.
Similarly, if you want to get somebody fired for harassment or bullying, record what they are doing. Take screenshots of inappropriate messages/emails, try to record audio or video of inappropriate behavior, or if your company uses security cameras, see if you can get a copy of the footage.
The more proof you have, the better chance the offender will get fired. A single piece of evidence is likely not enough, unless it is incredibly incriminating. Multiple sources of proof need to be collected in order to file a proper complaint.
If somebody is incompetent or a bully at work, it’s unlikely you are the only one to notice it. Reach out to others to see if their experiences are similar to yours and gather support. If a boss is being discriminatory, talk to those in a similar relationship to the boss for their thoughts.
If multiple people back you up, you have an even stronger argument for getting them fired. You can either get them to all sign a paper voicing their concern and support, or all of you can go to HR as a group.
When getting support, be sure to stay discreet and smart. Don’t spread rumors or try to bully people into joining your cause. If somebody’s experiences are different than yours, it doesn’t mean they are wrong or against you, they simply haven’t seen the same things.
File a Formal Complaint
Once you’ve gotten some coworkers to back you up and you’ve collected a good amount of evidence, it’s time to file a formal complaint. Typically, this is done with HR, but if your company is small, that might mean talking to a manager or the company’s owner. Do this in a formal capacity so paperwork is filled out and there is a record of the complaint. Simply talking to the HR person isn’t enough. Get the necessary paperwork filled out so both you and the company have it on record that a complaint was made.
Schedule a Meeting
Don’t just push your way into HR’s office, demanding to file a complaint. Properly filing a complaint takes time, and your HR representative might be busy. Set up a time to sit down and file the complaint properly. That might take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on how big of an issue it is. Likely, the HR rep will want to get very detailed about the complaint, fully investigating it for accuracy.
Bring Your Notes
It’s easy to get flustered and make mistakes when filing a complaint, especially if it’s emotional for you. Make notes ahead of time of everything you want to cover and then refer back to them during the meeting. This can help make sure you give a convincing testimony of what’s happened and stay on track.
Don’t be afraid to request to remain anonymous in the complaint. You have a right to protect your privacy and yourself, especially if you feel threatened by somebody at work. Likely, if there is paperwork to fill out, you’ll still need to list your name on it, but then that paperwork will remain private with HR.
It’s not a cowardly thing to ask to stay anonymous, so utilize it. If you are afraid of this complaint affecting your work or employment, use it.
When you act professional, it shows maturity and control when filing the complaint. If you show a vengeful or petty side, it’s easier for HR to minimize or ignore the situation. Be professional, put in your effort to remain somewhat impartial, and state the facts.
Now, that doesn’t mean be afraid to talk about your feelings with HR. If you feel scared, threatened, insulted, abused, or hurt, talk about it. Crying is ok to do, but be as discreet as possible. Try your best to convey your emotions professionally, and stick to facts, not opinions.
How to Get a Manager Fired
Filing a complaint for a manager can be tricky. If they find out about it, and are immature or petty, it could lead to making your work life hard.
If you do plan on filing a complaint about a manager or boss, follow the steps above, but be even more careful and detailed. When going around looking for support, be careful who you talk to, so it doesn’t get back to them. Be sure to request for anonymity. You might even want to ask if you can change managers after the complaint to avoid any retribution if the manager does find out.
Complain About Your Boss Without Getting Fired
The most important thing to remember when planning how to complain about your boss is to protect your own job. HR should try to protect you, but often they fail at this. You need to take steps to prevent getting fired.
One way to avoid getting fired is to find situations where your boss might display inappropriate behavior or abilities around others, especially their bosses or upper management. That way, action might be taken without you ever point it out.
Don’t just rely on that, though. Be willing to talk to others, including HR or your boss’ boss or a union rep, with your complaint. This might not result in direct action, but hopefully it puts your boss on the right people’s radar, so they can watch them. Often, people are ignorant to what is happening, but once their attention has been drawn to something, they’ll notice and act upon it.
You have the right to feel safe and comfortable at work. If something is actively preventing that, whether by another’s incompetence or hostility, do something to fix it. Talk with HR for help, and make sure your voice is heard. Take steps to protect yourself, make sure everything is recorded, and you feel in control of what is happening.
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