Maybe it was something a supervisor said that made you uncomfortable, or maybe something another worker did, whatever the case may be documenting your experiences is the first step toward retribution. Good documentation creates credibility for the worker by showing that their experiences were not being exaggerated, dramatized, or made up entirely. At CWC we have seen entire conversations shift based on if a worker had proper documentation, so we wanted to put together a quick guide on how you can keep powerful documentation.

Common Mistakes

Let’s start with some of the more common mistakes that workers encounter while documenting their experiences at work which include:

  • Making vague, unclear statements about what occurred.
  • Adding personal attacks or subjective comments. 
  • Providing little or no evidence to support worker’s claim.

Creating Powerful Documentation

Describe worker’s expectations based off the company’s internal culture and Federal and State Labor Laws and. Clearly state what the job description or the company policies require. Don’t simply mention an Employer “broke the law.” Instead, say, “Employer made workers work overtime and withheld pay.” 

Describe the behavior or performance that must change (or that you want to continue). Describe the actions of the individual, not the individual. Avoid making broad judgments using words such as “always” and “never,” which can be easily disputed by the Employer’s attorney. Best practice is to record specific dates to show when and where the unwanted behavior occurred. Keep your observations job-related. Don’t forget to include positive comments as well, those can be helpful in comparing the unwanted behavior with a more accepted behavior.

Include any explanation from the Employer for why expectations aren’t being met. Having a two-way conversation shows the worker’s attempt to be fair and learn how to help. Rushing to judgment can backfire on anyone. It can be helpful to also include any feedback or resources shared with the Employer to correct the behavior. This is a great way to show the many steps the worker took on their own to correct the problem before taking it to a labor agency.

Our final tip: Remember to prepare documentation with the intention that a third party (another worker or the Employer’s law team) will review it. Include enough information so others know what happened and what steps were taken to put the employee on notice and offer the individual an opportunity to correct performance.

Note that the contents of this guide are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. Contact the Cannabis Workers Coalition for employee-side employment attorney referrals.