You might hardly find a person who has never worked in an unfavorable working condition. There are various factors which violate any company’s working atmosphere, like office politics, stress, long working hours, or a more serious one—harassment. The off-repeated advice in such situations is to look for another job as very few have the strength and resources to fight against their employers. However, this doesn’t mean that you should back off. You have a right to sue your employer.
Is there a reason to sue the employer?
The first thing that you need to figure out is whether you have a case or not. What you think is a violation of rights, may not be recognised by law. Like, if your boss yells at you or doesn’t give you leave on your birthday, then it cannot be termed as a violation of rights and thus, do not qualify to take up before the court.
To find out where you stand is to check the provisions of labour laws, like the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923. However, note, all these provisions may not be applicable. For instance, the Industrial Dispute Act mainly covers labour class working in factories. However, the Workmen Compensation Act covers managerial class also and therefore, provisions will be applicable to you as well. For instance, as per the Workmen Compensation act, an employer is liable to pay compensation if an injury is caused to a worker by accident arising during employment. However, if the employer refuses to compensate the employee, he/she can file a legal case against the employer.
Along with labour laws, there are some fundamental laws which are also given under the Constitution. Like, if you face discrimination in the workplace on the basis of your gender, caste, or age, you can sue your employer in respect of violation of fundamental rights. Similarly, the company is liable to pay you what has been written in the job contract. In case the company fails to do so, you have rights to take legal action. Another common ground is wrongful termination. However, before shooting the gun, make sure to read your contract carefully.
How should you take up your case?
Now, when you know that there is a violation of your rights and your case is eligible to be taken to court, next is to approach the human resource (HR) department of your company. In some cases, your problems will get solved at the first stage only if you take them to your HR department who is there to address your grievances. You can lodge a written complaint with the department and give them sufficient time to respond to your situation. You can also go through the ‘employees’ handbook’ to get an understanding of the company’s policy.
In case you are not satisfied with their response, you can file a court case.
Know about the court proceedings
If there is a violation of contract, you can approach a civil court. Similarly, cases of mental harassment can also be filed, in both civil court and criminal court, if criminal charges are also added. For the smooth court proceedings, you can consult a lawyer.
For the successful contesting of a case in court, prepare yourself for it. It would be good if you maintain a record of all the incidents that you considered a violation of your rights. If possible, note down time and date as well as incident as well. For instance, you should note down the time and date of the accident for which the employer refused to compensate you as per the Workmen Compensation Act. It will be useful for your lawyer who will be able to find if you have a case or not. The information will also come handy while discussing the matter with the HR. Next, try to speak to the co-workers and see if they will support you or not.
The path is not easy
When you file a case against your employer, you expose yourself to a painstaking scrutiny. Your employer will keep a watch on your daily schedule, including your work and interaction with co-workers. Even a minor mistake can go against you. The company may also dig into your previous employment records to see if you had similar issues in the past. Also, your personal life can be examined to prove that it is only the problem in your personal life that you are stressed at work and it is due to that you are filing a case. Remember, it can affect your career also.
It would be good to properly weigh all pros and cons before dragging your employer to the court. You can also check old records and try to connect with those employees (current and ex) who might have also faced the same problems.
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