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Share Donna Ballman Jul 25th 2011 1:15AM I usually recommend against complaining about your boss . It can be satisfying to complain, but complaining can get you fired. There's no First Amendment in the private workplace, and even government employees' free speech rights are limited. If you say your boss is incompetent or unprofessional, you aren't protected from retaliation. Still, sometimes you really do have to report your boss to Human Resources or someone in management. Here are four times where you're legally protected from retaliation if you complain (no, I can't guarantee they won't retaliate anyhow, but you have some legal remedies if they do). 1. Discrimination/discriminatory harassment If you've been discriminated against due to your race, age, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, color, disability, genetic information, or another category that's protected in your state/county/city (e.g., marital status or sexual orientation that aren't protected by federal law), then you are legally required to follow your employer's published discrimination/harassment policy and report it. If you don't, then you may be giving up your right to sue for discrimination. 2. Wage/overtime violations If you object to the company's failure to pay wages owed or failure to pay overtime, you may be protected from retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act or your state's wage/hour laws. 3. Illegal activity of the company If the company is violating the law -- Medicare fraud, ripping off the government, failing to pay taxes, failing to pay wages, discriminating, polluting, etc., there are a host of whistle-blower laws that may protect you. You need to find out which law protects you and make sure that you complain in a way that's protected. Some laws require you to complain in writing to a supervisor. Some say that you have to report the company to a government agency. Some only require that you object to or refuse to participate in the illegal activity. If you get it wrong, you aren't protected from retaliation. 4. Collective action to improve working conditions The National Labor Relations Act protects employees from being retaliated against if they get together to try to improve the terms and conditions of their employment. So those letters that employees sometimes write to complain against unfair treatment or bullying are supposed to be protected. Your remedies under this law aren't the easiest to get or the best, but it's something to hang your hat on and wave in front of the boss if they start threatening retaliation. If you're going to complain, I suggest putting it in writing even if the policy says to have a meeting. You can present the written document at the meeting. That way you have proof that you complained about something that's protected. Otherwise, HR will likely say you complained about general harassment or unfair treatment, which isn't protected. If you do decide to complain, keep it professional and to the point. Avoid complaining about personality conflicts or incompetence. Stick to the facts that prove that what's happening is illegal. HR is entitled to investigate your complaint. That means that even if they have a policy of keeping your complaint confidential, your boss, the person you're complaining about, and your witnesses and other coworkers will probably find out about it. Be prepared for that to happen, and be ready to report retaliation. Tags can+complain+about+your+manager cancomplainaboutyourmanager complaining about your boss complainingaboutyourboss how to complain about your boss how to report your boss how to report your boss to hr how+to+report+your+boss howtocomplainaboutyourboss howtoreportyourboss howtoreportyourbosstohr reporting your boss to hr reportingyourbosstohr Read Full Story

Writing skills: Letter of complaint By Jackie McAvoy

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate Type: Teaching notes

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To encourage the use of phrases which express attitude and emotion in a factual letter.

Time: one hour, with extended language work and homework.

Target language: phrases which express attitude and emotion; phrases of place and direction; collocations connected to road safety 

Materials: Letter of complaint lesson plan, found under 'Related resources' below

Teacher's notes and lesson steps:

As a warm up exercise, start the lesson by one student describing the diagram on ‘Dangerous Road’ and their partner trying to draw it. (Fold the handout over so you can’t see the vocabulary exercise). This is a fun start, which will aid comprehension in step 4. Alternately describe the diagram yourself for all to draw. Check for differences. Hand out ‘Dangerous Road’ and complete the vocabulary exercise. Explain that all the phrases come from a letter. Ask students in pairs to decide who wrote the letter, to whom and about what. (A mother of two small children, to The Road and Safety Department of the Local Council, complaining about a dangerous stretch of Road, near where she lives.) Say that you are now all going to read the letter, but that it is jumbled up and has gaps in it. Hand out the ‘Jumbled Letter’ and allow time to fill in the gaps with the vocabulary from step 2. Monitor and, when individuals are ready, hand out ‘Language Analysis’ (the first instruction being to order the sentences). Monitor and check as they work through it. Students may want to pair up to compare answers as they finish. The ‘Language Extension’ exercise is optional and can be done individually, or, to change the pace, as a class. Make it into a game by providing teams with counters to place in the right ‘emotion box’ for each phrase, as they are revealed on an OHP / read out (keep the counter for correct answers etc.). Consolidate step 5 by completing the sentences with the correct phrase. Hand out ‘Writing Practice’ for homework.

Related Resources Writing skills: Letter of complaint: Lesson plan

To encourage the use of phrases which express attitude and emotion in a factual letter.

Author: Jackie McAvoy Level: Intermediate Type: General lesson plan