Many times I have met with clients who felt like they were being harassed or discriminated against in the workplace long before coming to see me. However, they failed to complain to their employers for fear that they would suffer retaliation or even termination if they complained. They felt that it was either better to try to handle it themselves or just ignore it and hope it passed. Ultimately, the harassment and discrimination just increased or the harasser found a way to have them terminated anyway.
It is important to understand that complaining about discrimination in the workplace is itself generally protected by law, even if the person complaining can’t prove they were actually being illegally harassed or discriminated against in the first place. The only caveat is that the complaint should preferably be made in writing and directed to human resources or other management personnel. It should specifically allege discrimination or harassment that is protected by law. Discrimination or harassment that is protected by law includes acts based on your race, sex, age, disability, national origin, pregnancy or religion. Thus, if your boss is harassing you because you embarrassed him or her in a meeting or is discriminating against you because you foolishly told a coworker with loose lips that you think your boss is stupid, then you’re not protected.
As a general rule, however, if you feel you’re being discriminated against or harassed, it is best to complain because the complaint itself provides you with a layer of legal protection you would not otherwise have should things get worse. Of course, when in doubt, always consult with a lawyer who specializes in employment law.