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Question:  “Our office manager constantly takes aim at minorities and older employees. After we sent an anonymous letter to the human resources manager about this woman’s prejudiced behavior, he posted a notice saying only signed complaints will be investigated. If we sign our names, we know the manager will retaliate.  She has a history of firing people who protest her heavy-handed tactics, and her boss wholeheartedly supports her. If human resources won’t consider our complaint, what can we do?” — No Way Out

Marie’s Answer:  Workplace grievances always present a challenge for management. Responding to anonymous notes can encourage frivolous accusations, while requiring signatures may inhibit legitimate complaints and invite reprisals. In your situation, here are some points to consider:

•    Your unsigned document might actually have done more good than you realize. Although an official investigation may require a signed complaint, an anonymous accusation will still alert management to the possibility of a problem. 

•    Meet with the HR manager as a group to truly have an impact. If most people in your department share these concerns, management is more likely to take them seriously.  Collective action also reduces the odds of retaliation. 

•    When presenting the problem, don’t rant and rave about your bigoted boss’s personality.  Instead, provide specific examples showing how her prejudicial behavior is damaging morale and hurting the business. 

•    Discriminatory actions create legal liability for the company, so your HR manager should appreciate the heads-up.  If he refuses to listen, that may be a sign that you need to start looking for a more professional place to work. 

For other clues that a career change might be in order, see Is It Time to Leave Your Job?

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