How to Document Bad Behavior at Work – Pt. 1

This video details how employees like you should properly document bad behavior at work so you can protect yourself down the road if legal action becomes necessary.

In the video, employment attorney Branigan Robertson talks in depth about when you should take notes, what they will be used for, what you should write down, three strategies that are best for how you should write them down, and he discusses best practices.

This video gives simple guidelines that might dramatically help you preserve key evidence (facts, dates, witnesses, events, and occurrences) that will be important later on. If your boss, manager, or coworker is treating you poorly, this video is an essential watch.

This video is part 1 in a four-part series called “How to Document Bad Behavior at Work.”

This video series is especially important if you feel like your legal issues fall within one of the following categories:

If you would rather watch this video on YouTube, click here.

Be sure to watch the whole video for Branigan’s in deep dive into this important issue. If you prefer, you can read the rest of this blog to get a general overview. But be sure to watch the video for full understanding.

Is the Bad Behavior Unfair, or Unlawful?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad behavior that happens in the workspace that’s perfectly legal. For an attorney like Branigan Robertson to pursue a case, he must believe there has been a violation of state or federal law. In California, §12940 of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) states that it is a violation of law for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on several characteristics. These include race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, national origin, disability and several other classes. 

Harassment of a protected person rises to a violation of law when the bad behavior is severe or pervasive enough to alter the working environment. If you believe that you are being harassed, the quality of the notes you take can help an attorney to determine if you have a case worth pursuing.

Simplicity is Key

The first thing to keep in mind when documenting bad behavior at work is that you must keep things simple. Remember that you might be presenting your case to a jury of your peers at some point. You don’t want a defense attorney holding up pages and pages of scribbled notes in which you document your bosses’ every little misstep, perceived hypocrisy or office snub. Furthermore, you’ll want to refrain from psychoanalyzing the boss—even if he or she is a narcissistic tyrant. 

Poorly compiled notes have the potential to make you come across to the jury as a whiner, or worse. When taking notes, focus on the significant events, which by their very nature are rare. These are the events you suspect are unlawful and impact your work:

  • ­Boss called me to his office, closed the door and rubbed my shoulders.
  • Devon threatened to hit me and used a racial slur.
  • Supervisor Sara made a joke at office lunch that she only promotes white people.

The Five W’s

Once you’ve decided you need to document something at work, keep it to the Five W’s:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Witnesses

People who call our office often struggle to remember simple but key details. They’ll begin the call by telling us about the hostile work environment they’re in and all the laws that are being broken. But when asked for the date when the illegal behavior happened, or who was there when it happened, these same callers’ minds’ go blank. If you’re documenting the significant issues, be sure you can answer the five W’s.

Set Up a Free Email Account

If you’re documenting bad behavior at work, you’ll want to have an email account set up where you can email and store your notes. This ensures that the notes have timestamp information that will corroborate your facts. It’s important you don’t store this information in a company email account, or your personal email account. In the former case, your employer probably has software or other ways of monitoring the information you store in a company account. In the latter situation you don’t want to trigger discovery that could result in a a defense lawyer sleuthing through your personal information.

Call an Attorney

If you’ve watched Mr. Robertson’s videos on documenting bad behavior at work and feel that you can relate a little too much to the discussion, it might be time to give our office a call. 

While Mr. Robertson doesn’t generally take on cases while a person is still employed, he will review the facts of your case for free. When Mr. Robertson does take a case, he generally does so on a contingency basis. This means the client doesn’t pay for legal services out of pocket. Attorney’s fees are paid with a portion of proceeds at the conclusion of the case. Give the law office of Branigan Robertson a call to find out if he can help.

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