Join Club

Legal Insider: 10 Tips for Dealing with Workplace Problems


This is a biweekly sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

We often advise employees on how to best handle their employment problems in the workplace either while they are developing or after an adverse employment action. It is important for employees who are experiencing workplace problems to stay focused and calm while issues are developing. Here are 10 tips to follow if you are dealing with problems in the workplace.

1. Relax and Stay Calm.

When facing employment issues, don’t get visibly upset in the workplace. For instance, if you are meeting with Human Resources (HR), it is important to remain calm during the HR meeting. As difficult as it may seem at the time, it is important to stay calm even when dealing with significant employment issues. It generally is not helpful to argue with HR or a supervisor over an employment issue that arises. Doing so can put an employee at risk for discipline, placement on leave, or even retaliation. Listen to what HR or the supervisor has to say, remain non-committal about any allegations, but indicate a willingness to cooperate and work out any employment problems, if at all possible.

2. Don’t Post About Employment Issues on Social Media.

It is highly recommended that an employee not post his or her employment problems on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). Employees often forget who they have friended in the social media realm or haven’t adequately set privacy settings. Despite having set privacy settings adequately, there still may be an extended audience (e.g., friends of friends) who are privy to the employee’s posts. Our firm often sees insubordination or misconduct cases involving posts that employees have placed on their social media accounts about issues in their employment (or about a particular supervisor) that have somehow been forwarded on to the employer or supervisor involved. Employers and their attorneys have simply become more adept at obtaining this type of information on social media.

3. Keep Your Legal Plans Private.

Employees often get understandably upset with supervisors and HR about a particular employment situation (e.g., Letter of Warning, Performance Improvement Plan, Suspension, etc.) and state that they are going to take legal action. Do not let a supervisor, HR, or anyone in the workplace know about your legal plans prior to consulting with an attorney. It is important to keep employment issues and legal plans private. We have seen many instances where an employee informs a supervisor that he or she is seeking legal assistance on an employment issue, which then leads to retaliation by that supervisor. It is important for an employee not to inform a supervisor or anyone in the workplace about any legal plans early in the process and until the employee has sought legal advice from an employment attorney.

4. Be Wary of Your HR Department.

Don’t necessarily trust the HR department. Employees may think that HR is a neutral or safe forum to raise employment issues, but this is generally not the case. Any employment issues that are raised by an employee may be shared with the supervisor and can lead to retaliation. HR departments work for and tend to be loyal to senior level supervisors as opposed to working to properly enforce company policy. It is important to be careful when bringing workplace issues to HR’s attention without first consulting with an employment attorney.

5. Let an HR Investigation Run Its Course.

If a complaint has been filed against an employee (i.e., by a co-worker alleging some sort of misconduct) and the allegations are serious enough, the employee may be placed on paid or unpaid leave while an investigation is being conducted by the employer. However, many HR complaints do not result in the employee being placed on leave. An investigation will likely follow the HR complaint, and it can be short (a few days) or long (a few months) in duration. Investigations can be conducted internally by HR or by in-house or outside legal counsel. At the conclusion of the investigation, an employee will typically be notified of the outcome. If the outcome is negative, the employee may be proposed for suspension, reassignment, or termination. If the outcome is positive, the employee may or may not be informed of the outcome. For instance, HR may just inform the employee that the investigation is over. In such case, there may be no adverse impact on the employee if he or she simply lets the investigation run its course.

6. Don’t Use Your Work Email Account for Workplace Issues.

In general, employees should not use their employer’s email account to send personal or private information, especially related to their employment issues. It is often very easy to use an employer’s email account for private or workplace issues, but it can later adversely affect an employee’s employment claims. When an employer begins to notice or suspects problems with an employee, one of the first steps the employer takes is a review of the employee’s work email account. Employers often archive old emails for each employee, so it is very important to be careful when using a work email account. Any work emails, even if they contain private information, can potentially be used against the employee. The employer may further potentially claim that the employee misused his or her work email account or obtain private information related and damaging to the employee’s workplace claims.

7. Be Wary of Using Your Employer’s Computer for Employment Issues.

Along with work email usage, it is important to be careful about using an employer’s computer or internet browser for non-work-related issues. Often times an employer disciplines an employee for spending personal time at work on the internet or allegedly misusing company resources for maintaining personal information (e.g., photos, resumes, personal documents, etc.) on a work computer. Employers can monitor internet usage and what seems acceptable to an employer one day (or common in the office) can turn unacceptable when employment problems later develop between an employee and the company. Be especially mindful if the employer maintains and has made its employees aware of company computer or internet usage policies.

8. Avoid Conversations With Co-Workers About Employment Issues.

It is important to be careful in conversations about employment issues with co-workers, even if conversing with friends inside or outside of the workplace. It is often the case that an employee tells his or her private information to a coworker who then provides it to a supervisor or others at work where it eventually makes its way back to a problem supervisor or HR. We have seen this occur even among close friends at work who may not intend to turn this information over to management or HR.

9. Be Patient.

Resolution of employment issues could take time. Employers and HR are not required to conduct quick investigations or reviews into HR complaints. In fact, the longer an HR investigation or review takes, the greater the chance that the employer or HR department will forget about the issue and drop it. However, we have seen some employees who are so eager for the investigation or review to be complete that they actually cause HR to complete its investigation or review quicker than usual. If an employee reminds HR or inquires about the status of an investigation or review, it can increase the chance that the employer will actually complete the investigation or review when the issue would have otherwise disappeared or resolved itself over time.

10. Consult With an Attorney Early and Before Employment Problems Worsen.

When an employee begins to experience employment problems with an employer, he or she should consult with an employment attorney as soon as possible. Consulting with an attorney gives an employee peace of mind as to his or her legal options and assists the employee with sound strategy and legal advice and, often times, without the employer ever becoming aware of the specific workplace problems at issue.

Our law firm represents and advises federal employees on employment-related matters. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at to schedule a consultation.  Please also visit and like us on Facebook at

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Recent Stories

Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 10000 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

Police are investigating the first reported homicide of the year in Arlington. According to Arlington County police, a man was found dead in an apartment on the 100 block of…

3 Car Detached Garages

Last week, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to allow homeowners, builders and developers to convert or build new 2-6 unit homes throughout the county.

Synetic Theater Camps are a wildly fun, highly accessible choice for young people who love moving, playing games, and making memories. Registration is open now for Summer Camps (sessions June 20-August 25) and there are even a few spots left for Spring Break camp, April 3­-7.

Located in National Landing, these performance-based camps are designed for students of all ages – no theater or performance experience required.

Led by professional teaching artists, campers learn acting, movement, and technical theater skills through the lens of Physical Theater. Physical Theater incorporates acting, movement, dance, mime, and acrobatics. If you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, you’ll find many similarities.

Most first-time campers are new to the performing arts, and teaching artists are well-versed in engaging students at all levels. Parents and campers report that one of the best parts of Synetic is the community, with many families returning year after year because they feel a strong sense of belonging.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

EDBS Dental Billing Solutions is pleased to announce that it has achieved compliance with the federally mandated standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) through the use of Compliancy Group’s proprietary HIPAA methodology, The Guard® compliance tracking software, and HIPAA Seal of Compliance®.

The HIPAA Seal of Compliance is issued to organizations that have implemented an effective HIPAA compliance program through the use of The Guard, Compliancy Group’s proprietary compliance tracking solution.

Clients and patients are becoming more aware of the requirements of HIPAA compliance and how the regulation protects their personal information. Forward-thinking providers like EDBS Dental Billing Solutions choose the HIPAA Seal of Compliance to differentiate their services.

“Since the nature of our business being exclusively remote, we take HIPAA compliance very seriously. With the help of Compliancy Group, we are able to take steps to fortify our systems to protect PHI information and familiarize each employee about HIPAA and how we can further safeguard PHI data.” said EDBS Dental Billing Solutions founder Goldie De Leon.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

WHS Spring Festival

Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!

Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and

District 27 Toastmasters 2023 Virtual Conference

District 27 Toastmasters invites you to its annual conference where you can hear phenomenal speakers, attend professional development and personal growth seminars about leadership, negotiation, communication, teamwork, and mentorship. Learn how to develop your personal story and how to improve


Subscribe to our mailing list