Every job has its issues; some are mere annoyances, others border on discrimination or mistreatment. Some can be illegal or even criminal. If you feel mistreated in your workplace, one option is to start looking for another job right away; no job is worth being miserable. The other option is to find the people who can help you get through it and resolve the issue.
When you're having issues at work, it helps to gain some perspective on the situation. As a first step, try talking to some of your co-workers to find out about their experiences with whatever is making it tough for you. This can help you sort out the imagined and the real troubles with the job. If you don't have any co-workers you can trust, look to a trusted friend or a colleague who may have some knowledge of what it's like to work in your industry.
The next step in the process may be to talk to your manager or supervisor. This may be the most effective way to deal with a problem, advises professor Wendy Boswell of Texas A&M University. If you're going to pursue some type of legal action or make a formal complaint later on, you need to inform the people involved that you want to see changes made. If a person isn't aware of the problem, she is not able to make changes. Ask your manager -- in writing -- for a few minutes of alone time, and then use the meeting to state the facts of the problem and how you would like to see it resolved. After the meeting, send another e-mail to the manager to thank her for her time. Creating this paper trail is a way of assembling evidence that you've tried to resolve the issue with your manager. After the meeting, also write down the content of your conversations and keep it in a safe place.
If you talk to your manager and you don't see any changes, the next step may be to move up the chain of command. Some companies have a formal grievance process; check your company's employee handbook to find out. In lieu of that, talk to the highest manager you can, or the human resources officers at your company. Have copies of your e-mails on hand to show that you've made an attempt to resolve the issue on your own. Don't be surprised if the higher-ups side with your manager or refuse to take action. Similar to your process with the manager, document as much of the process as you can.
In some cases, you may have grounds to file a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or a safety complaint with the Department of Labor. While you can do this on your own, you may benefit from having an attorney on your side. Talk to an attorney and share the facts of the case; she may be able to help you decide which avenues to pursue to resolve the problem or even whether you have a case.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.