Tafep officer often deals with emotional people
Case officer Hema Sri gathers facts regarding workplace complaints
She has been called useless and a waste of taxpayers' money. And she has been accused of being biased when dealing with workplace complaints.
The irony is not lost on Ms Hema Sri, 35, a case officer at the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep). Her job is to gather information to determine if a company or employer has displayed discriminatory behaviour against employees or groups of employees.
Ms Hema told The New Paper: "Sometimes, there are cases where either party withholds information, whether knowingly or not."
It comes down to her and her colleagues to establish the facts.
Her job also involves engaging the company or employer to ensure it reviews and rectifies any problematic areas to better adhere to Tafep's guidelines for fair employment practices.
Some examples of discrimination include unfair hiring practices that exclude individuals based on age, sex or race.
Ms Hema said one of the biggest challenges is convincing both employee and employer that she is a neutral party looking out for both their interests.
She said: "It can be a challenge to manage the emotions of the complainants, who can often be upset, agitated and frustrated by the time they come to us."
She recalled a case where an employee felt he had been discriminated against when a co-worker was promoted instead of him. Her investigation revealed there were reasons the other person was better promoted.
When she tried telling him that, he got agitated and was verbally abusive towards her.
Ms Hema said such cases are rare, with most people helpful and cooperative.
She added that she has received calls from individuals involved in past cases who still turn to her for help and advice, even for unrelated issues.
Ms Hema, who used to work in the social service sector, said: "Even if I can't help them, I make it a point to refer them to someone who can, or simply just listen and provide any information I can. Just hearing a 'thank you' makes it worth it."