What do you do if your co-worker harasses you, while on the job? It’s a tough question; right? Here’s another question: What do you do if your male co-worker is making more money than you, and he’s doing the same job? Doesn’t sound fair; agreed? So, there are a lot of things that we need to do for ourselves. We need to stand up for our rights. At the end of the day, we all deserve to have equal pay, fairness, and treatment. To find out a bit more on how we can protect our civil rights, The Balancing Act Lifetime has met with Travis Hollifield, from the Travis Hollifield Legal Centre.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: How are you today, Travis?
Travis Hollifield: I’m doing well.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: Thank you, so much, for being here. Now, I know your law firm focuses on women’s workplace legal needs. Correct?
Travis Hollifield: That’s correct.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: Tell me, what seem to be the topmost issues that women are dealing with today?
Travis Hollifield: Well, the types of claims that we see, mostly in my office, are sexual harassment claims.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: I see.
Travis Hollifield: Other issues we frequently see are claims of pregnancy discrimination, family and medical leave act claims (otherwise known as “FMLA”); and then there’s a type of claim that we call “wage theft”, which is like an umbrella term that’s meant to cover things like unpaid overtime, unpaid commissions, and other types of wage improprieties.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: So, let’s say a woman has gone through this, or they feel they’ve been wronged. If it were my situation, I’d like to believe that I would stand up for myself. Why do you think there are women who don’t?
Travis Hollifield: Well, there’s a variety of different reasons why women would not necessarily want to report the incident to their employer. One reason is, typically, that they fear they’re going to be seen as not a team player that they’re going to rock the boat too much. In other words, they’re just trying to avoid conflict in the workplace.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: Interesting.
Travis Hollifield: By far, the number one reason that women report to my firm, is that they fear retaliation or “black balling”. You know?
The Balancing Act Lifetime: Retaliation being “Something bad is going to happen to me or my job, if I say something” or, “I’m going to be ‘black balled’”, meaning that if I ever leave here, and want to stay in the same industry, or the same geographic area, it’s going to follow me along.
Travis Hollifield: That’s right. People fear that they are going to be talked badly about, for having blown the whistle; or having complained or objected to behavior in the workplace.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: Those shouldn’t be reasons for women not to stand up for ourselves, and do something about it.
Travis Hollifield: Agreed.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: So, let’s say a woman gets legal representation; and they decide, “Ok, I’m going to do something about this. I’m not going to be fearful, and I’m going to stand up for myself.” What steps should they take to prepare for that?
Travis Hollifield: Well, the number one thing that all women need to be aware of is that if their employer has an employee handbook, you need to have that handbook nearby so that you can see what the policies and procedures are for reporting objectionable behavior in the workplace, whether it’s harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. The handbook, itself, typically, if it’s a good handbook, and if it’s well distributed, and all employees have a copy, there should be a very clear policy about how to complain, typically to a human resources department, or a similar department, or manager that will field these questions. And, it’s very important that women follow that procedure, because in many circumstances, a woman could lose her rights, later in court, if they do not follow the internal reporting procedure that’s set forth by the employer.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: Now, let me ask you something else. I actually know of one case – one friend of mine who went through this. And, I remember her comment to me was, “You know what? At the end of the day, I’m going to suffer so much, I’m going to put my family through so much, and nothing’s going to be done.” What’s your answer to that?
Travis Hollifield: Well, the answer is that that’s not necessarily true. I mean, unless you stand up for yourself, who’s going to stand up for you in the workplace? As an attorney, I can do what I can do outside of the workplace if a client comes to me and needs assistance about how best to stand up for herself to the company. But, if something bad happens after that, we get into a situation where, typically, it’s litigation, or in court, and that’s where my expertise comes into play. I can forward the client’s claim in court; but for the woman, if she doesn’t take that step, she’s just walking away from whatever remedy is ordinarily available to her.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: Great information.
Travis Hollifield: I’m glad I’ve been able to offer helpful insights.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: I hope nobody ever has to go through this. But, you know what? If you do, really, stand up for yourself. And, thank you, so much for that information, Travis.
Travis Hollifield: Thanks, The Balancing Act Lifetime.
The Balancing Act Lifetime: I really appreciate it, and if you want more information on Hollifield Legal Centre, go to trhlaw.com.
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