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Chief Operations Officer has instructed all department managers

and supervisors that they inform...
Chief Operations Officer has instructed all department managers and supervisors that they inform all of their employees that they cannot go to HR and all problems will be handled by chief operations officer and managers or supervisors of the respective departments. The Chief Executive Officers was not aware that this had been done.

Never encountered this nor have my fellow HR colleagues I've contacted. Can a manager or supervisor legally deny an employee the right to go to HR if they have a problem or question, especially if it is the manager or supervisor who is the problem?

Thank you,
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8/23/2013
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I bring nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines.

They can, because HR is not created by any operation of law. What I mean by that is that there is no statute or regulation that required employers to create HR.

Many people mistakenly believe that HR works for the employees. That is not actually true. Nothing told to HR is confidential simply by nature of it having been told to HR. HR is actually in the business of protecting the employer, not the employees.

So, there is nothing inherently illegal about a manager telling people to go through them rather than HR for internal matters.

Now, there are laws that make certain types of discrimination illegal. So, if the issue is one of discrimination due to race, religion, gender, age, disability or FMLA use, then reporting this issue to HR over the head of the manager isn't going to be a problem. Punishing an employee for doing that would be a violation of the laws against retaliation for making those sorts of complaints. But the protection is limited to complaints of that nature. If the complaint doesn't fit into one of those categories, it's not a protected activity.

Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19,344
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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