Many employees believe that their Human Resources Department is there to help them and protect them. This may actually be true for the fairest, most progressive employers who follow the best employment practices possible. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that most Human Resources Departments exist to protect the employer against claims from the employee.
Have you ever complained to Human Resources and found that they tried to minimize your complaint, or told you that your boss was probably joking, or suggested that you should have better and more open communications with the person who was mistreating you? This can often discourage employees from complaining about workplace injustices and help the employer to insulate itself from later complaints in court.
Have you ever made a strong complaint in writing only to be later told by Human Resources that it investigated and concluded that there was no “corroboration” of your side of the story? Sometimes Human Resources seems to suggest that you are crazy because you are the only one who’s willing to stick up and say that you are being seriously mistreated. Again, this cleverly serves to minimize your complaints and maximize the employer’s defenses.
While there are very few laws that specifically target Human Resources Departments, the employer has a general duty to perform a reasonable investigation of any complaint of wrongdoing, including interviewing the employee who complained as well as key witnesses who perpetrated or witnessed the wrongdoing. The employer also needs to tell you the outcome of the investigation, although it will probably not give you as many details as you would like. An experienced employment attorney will be able to tell if the employer has met its duties and whether or not you have a good claim.