Question of the Week

A reader writes:

What do you do when HR lies to an employee and continually avoids phone calls and questions? What do you do when HR lets the supervisor of the shift do whatever he pleases, especially when your own supervisor is being 
unethical and lies to employees?

Hmmm …

What are
 we talking about here? A generally unresponsive HR department or an HR professional dodging a particular complaint? Without knowing the specifics, it’ll be hard to give intelligent advice. (That won’t won’t stop me from trying, however.)

First things first. It sounds to me like the culture of your company (or at least some portion of it) stinks, and there isn’t much you can do about that. Perhaps I’m off the mark, but in my humble opinion, unethical, lying managers and a shifty HR department speak volumes. Someone in authority is sanctioning this behavior.

So, aside from initiating a culture coup (which I don’t advise), what can you do?

Again, that depends on the problem.

You aren’t responsible for the performance of anyone who doesn’t report to you, and that includes your supervisor or anyone he or she manages. However, if any of these parties is violating company policy or the law, and a direct confrontation is undesirable or impossible, you’d be within your rights to complain to HR. If HR is unresponsive, then you can try and complain to someone in authority above HR, but again, it just depends. What is the problem and who is affected?

If your rights are being violated and no one with authority within the organization will do his job and respond to your complaint, then you may have to go outside the organization to find satisfaction, if the problem is important to you. The EEOC, Department of Labor, and your state human relations commission exist for this purpose.

If the problem doesn’t affect you directly, but perhaps affects the common good—such as Medicaid or Medicare fraud or misuse of public funds, then whistleblower laws may protect you if you report the wrongdoing.

If the troublesome behavior is not illegal but nevertheless having a marked, negative affect on you, then I’d advise you to think carefully about the importance of your health and sanity and act to protect both. Ignoring the problem in the hopes that it will get better is most likely a misplace of hope. Is the behavior causing physical problems? See a doctor. Is it causing psychological problems? See a therapist. Most important, do whatever the professionals tell you to do, without regard for your workload or what your coworkers or boss will think.

And, oh, at the very least, you should consider updating your resume and begin seriously looking for another job.

Here’s the bottom line. You can’t make people deal honestly with you, and you can’t direct the behavior of people over whom you have no authority. What you can do is take care of you—whether that means seeing a doctor, a therapist, or a lawyer or contacting a state or federal agency to assist you in protecting your rights.


  1. A culture coup? That sounds like a revolution Cyrstal! Sign me up! lol...I would love to see a post with some more of your insights on that term...when you have time of course.


    1. Ha ha, you're funny, Ernie! I'll see what I can do!