Despite facing serious problems at workplace, many employees choose to remain silent, and do not file grievances. However, a large number of those who do file their complaints are mainly women and people belonging to minorities, says a new study.
The study in Industrial Relations was conducted with an aim to examine the degree to which certain minority groups may be more or less prone to file grievances as a way to remedy particular types of workplace issues or problems.
The researchers collected self-report data from a sample of 866 blue-collar workers chosen from four unions in the north-eastern United States and examined employee grievance filing with respect to demographic variables, including gender and race.
The sample consisted of men, women, whites, African Americans, and Hispanics and it was found that the overall rate of actual grievance filing by women and ethnic minorities did not differ much from that of their male or white counterparts.
But, employee demographic characteristics significantly control the link between the severity of potentially injurious workplace conditions and the rate of employee grievance filing.
Particularly, it was found that the grievance filing of women and minorities was more sensitive to the severity of particular workplace conditions as compared to the grievance filing of their majority peers.
On the contrary, the grievance-filing behaviour of men and whites was likely to remain fairly constant despite of their perceived level of workplace injustice or injury.
Thus, it was important to expect that grievance filing for women and minorities will be utilized only when the severity of the condition is such that the failure to file will be seen as entailing even greater risks than those entailed in filing.
"Our findings suggest that for those individuals who, because of their gender or minority status, are disadvantaged in the labor market and are thus perhaps most in need of an effective mechanism by which to voice concerns regarding the workplace, the grievance system may not necessarily always provide an adequate answer," noted the authors.