Thursday, November 29, 2007

When It Rains...It Pours

First the dog issue and now two deaths in the family. I've been at a funeral the past two nights and I'm emotionally drained. I will have new posts on Monday, December 3rd. Thanks for your patience. Remember to check back!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Providing Evidence of Retaliation

If you are under attack at work, it’s critical that you have a complete and thorough record of every action taken against you by a supervisor, manager, coworkers or your employers--as a whole. You should also have a record of performance evaluations and other performance-related feedback, policies contained in the personnel manual, and other information.

When it comes to compiling evidence that supports your claims of workplace mistreatment and abuse, you should think in terms of direct vs. circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is the best evidence to have because it is the most blatant and undeniable form of proof. An example of direct evidence is being told that you are not being promoted because you are Black or having your boss give you a memo stating that you won’t be given an opportunity to manage other staff because of your race. Direct evidence involves someone making it blatantly clear that your race is one of the factors or the sole factor in how they are treating you in the workplace.

Most people are too savvy to provide a target with direct evidence of discrimination, harassment or retaliation. But, it does happen. More often than not, a racist will simply find other ways to hide the racially motivated reasons for their actions. For that reason, it’s more likely that you will have circumstantial evidence of race-related discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc.

Let’s look at how you might prove a circumstantial case of retaliation (retaliation for complaining about race-based abuses at work). According to the EEOC, a violation is established if there is circumstantial evidence raising an inference of retaliation, if your employer fails to produce evidence of a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the challenged action (firing, demotions, suspension, transfer to a hard to reach location, being stripped of assignments, harassment, retaliation, etc.) or if the reason provided by your employer is simply a pretext to hide the retaliatory motive.

If you file a complaint against your employer, internally or externally, alleging discriminatory practices, retaliation, etc. and you suddenly become targeted with adverse actions like increased surveillance and heightened scrutiny, unjustified negative performance evaluations, denial of a promotion, suspension or other negative actions, you can link the timing of when you filed your complaint with the onslaught of abuse by your supervisor, coworker or employer.

Circumstantial evidence can come in many forms, but as you gather information that proves your point/position, you also want to collect evidence that disproves/refutes the case being made by your employer. Your employer has likely given you reasons for taking certain actions with regard to your employment. For instance, unjustly demoting you, denying you a promotion or firing you. You need to show that the reasons given by your employer are nothing but a pretext/excuse to hide their true motives, which you believe are racially-based.

You need to do two things: (1) Prove your case with an avalanche of circumstantial evidence or direct evidence; and (2) Prove that the justification provided by your employer is nothing more than a misrepresentation of facts and/or outright lies to hide their race-related motivations!

You have to be strategic. You have to think about all of the evidence that would prove, to a complete stranger, that your position is valid. Pretend that you will have to speak to a two-year old. Don’t assume someone is going to have an instant understanding of your position. Keep your arguments simple and break down all of the relevant points.

Remember, you are looking to highlight actions that directly or indirectly show potentially illegal mistreatment. Keep the word "inference" in mind because circumstantial evidence provides an inference of illegal behavior.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blogger Out a Few Days

I won't be blogging for a few days because I have a seriously ill dog, which I will likely be forced to euthanize this weekend. I can't think about anything else and just want to spend as much time with her as possible. I am in the early stages of being a full blown basketcase. I should return on Tuesday. Check back next week. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who Is Your Supervisor?

Harassment by a coworker is bad enough, but sometimes workplace harassment is instigated by a supervisor or someone in an employee’s supervisory chain of command. I think it’s important for African American workers to know that other employee’s may qualify as their supervisor, based on the role they play in assigning and monitoring employee workloads. Therefore, harassment by what may seem to be a coworker, may actually qualify as harassment committed by a supervisor, if that is the role the employee was serving—even temporarily. According to the EEOC:

An employer is subject to vicarious liability for unlawful harassment if the harassment was committed by a “supervisor” with immediate (or successively higher) authority over the employee. Thus it is critical to determine whether the person who engaged in unlawful harassment had supervisory authority over the complainant.

An individual who is authorized to direct another employee’s day-to-day activities qualifies as his or her supervisor even if that individual does not have authority to undertake or recommend tangible employment decisions (e.g., hiring, firing, demotion, transfer, etc.). Such an individual’s ability to commit harassment is enhanced by his or her authority to increase the employee’s workload or assign undesirable tasks, and hence it is appropriate to consider such a person a “supervisor” when determining whether the employer is vicariously liable.

An individual who is temporarily authorized to direct another employee’s daily work activities qualifies as his or her “supervisor” during that time period. Accordingly, the employer would be subject to vicarious liability if that individual commits unlawful harassment of a subordinate while serving as his or her supervisor.

Someone who merely relays other officials’ instructions regarding work assignments and reports back to those officials does not have true supervisory authority. Furthermore, someone who directs only a limited number of tasks or assignments would not qualify as a “supervisor.”

In some cases, an employer may be subject to vicarious liability for harassment by a supervisor who does not have actual authority over the employee. Such a result is appropriate if the employee reasonably believed that the harasser had such power. The employee might have such a belief because, for example, the chains of command are unclear. Alternatively, the employee might reasonably believe that a harasser with broad delegated powers has the ability to significantly influence employment decisions affecting him or her even if the harasser is outside the employee’s chain of command.


First printed 8/06

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IN THE NEWS: Commentator Pulls on Eyes to Show What a Chinese Suspect Would Look Like

Former Detective Rod Wheeler (Black) appeared on Fox News Channel in a segment on whether the police were using racial profiling, when describing a rapist as Hispanic. When speaking, Mr. Wheeler said that the witnesses didn’t describe an Asian and he pulled on the corners of his eyes. Clearly, this was a very ignorant thing to do and would rightly draw attention.

To see the video that’s making news, check out this YouTube link:

Mr. Wheeler was on a roll, so he also made a bad West Indian accented “ganja” reference to say that might be a way for someone to indicate that a suspect was Jamaican.


IN THE NEWS: Study Reveals Income Gap Between Black and White Families

According to a Pew Research Center study many Black people are more pessimistic about racial progress than they’ve been in the past 20 years. In fact, many Blacks say they are worse off now than they were just 5 short years ago.

The Pew study also found that there is a growing gap between the income levels of Black and White families. The findings include that:

-- Black middle-class families seem to be less successful than White middle-class families at passing on their economic status to their children;
-- Income for Black men has declined over the past 3 decades, when income is adjusted to reflect inflation; and
-- Most Blacks believe race discrimination is pervasive, when applying for a job.

To read the full Associated Press article, click here:

Other Source:


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Building Blocks for a Promotion

A friend of mine (Black) was a manager at our company. She went from having a diverse department of subordinates to being placed in a position where she only supervised Black junior level staff. This was not of her doing. The director of her department and our Human Resources manager simply began to make personnel decisions that resulted in all of the staff in this support division being African American.

Regardless of the racial makeup of her staff, this manager always pushed her subordinates to learn new skills and to increase their knowledge about their jobs. She conducted lunch-time trainings, brought in other staff to conduct informal trainings, and passed on information about other training opportunities. Whenever possible, she ensured that her subordinates performed some work that was typical of the work being performed in positions that were one grade higher than her subordinates. By doing so, she took away the argument that her staff had not shown they were capable of performing higher levels of work and she made her staff more competitive for future promotion opportunities by improving their knowledge and skill sets.

Her approach to managing her staff wasn’t appreciated by our employers. In fact, during conversations about her encouraging staff to look into opportunities to advance, this Black manager was told, “You know, some people like to be in the same job for 20 years.” She was also told that she shouldn’t “push” her Black subordinates to want to excel or move up within the ranks of their department. Finally, she was told that the only reason these Black workers had any thoughts about being promoted was because she was putting the idea in their heads.

This manager was told to back off of encouraging her staff to excel and advance.

The manager’s response was that she would be negligent in her job as a manager if she didn’t train her staff, didn’t expose them to more advanced work, didn’t help them improve their knowledge of their job and field, and didn’t encourage them to seek advancement opportunities.

Although she was told that the ideas her subordinates had about promotions weren’t her problem, the legal decision in Bryson vs. Chicago State University supports her management style and the encouragement she provided her employees. The 1996 decision of the 7th Circuit court specifically reasoned:

“Depriving someone of the building blocks for…a promotion…is just as serious as depriving her of the job itself.”

If you are working in a job where you aren’t being provided with the basics that would lead to a promotion, you can legitimately raise serious concerns about the lack of opportunities and training at your job.

Don’t be afraid to express your desire to learn more about your job and to seek out future advancement opportunities. More employees than not want exactly the same thing—to be promoted, to receive significant pay raises, and to have a livelihood that their families can depend on.

If you are not getting access to those building blocks, speak to your supervisor and/or manager and let it be known that you have a desire to learn more. State that you would like to know about in-house and outside training opportunities and that you would like more exposure to different skills sets within your position. If you are not given reasonable answers regarding obtaining these basic building blocks, you should consider speaking to another authority within your department or to an HR representation.

It’s your career, so you should be proactive if you aren’t seeing the opportunities you want and are entitled to at work. Show initiative and find out what you need to do to get to the next levels of your career path. You are entitled to desire success! And, you are entitled to the workplace building blocks that will help you succeed.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

IN THE NEWS: The Worse Apology in History!

Anytime you have celebrities and pseudo-celebrities doing TV interviews to apologize for saying things that we all know they really meant, it can be a very embarrassing situation. I mean, you sit there and you watch this person groveling because they fear losing their career opportunities.

Well, on cable’s Hannity and Colmes show, Duane “Dog” Chapman took his apology to an otherworldly level, when he said that he went to George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon and visited the site where Washington’s 300 slaves are buried. He says he is currently working on a deal to be buried at the site himself. I can only say…

“What the f*ck?!!!”

Dog says he wants his mistakes to be a lesson to other people. Apparently, someone in the future will know who Duane “Dog” Chapman is and will ask why this reality star is buried with Washington’s slaves. If that’s not the height of egomaniacal fantasy, I don’t know what is. Most people now don’t give a damn about Duane Chapman and they won’t care about him in the future, even if he’s buried with the slaves.

Let me be the first to tell you…

DUANE CHAPMAN HAS NO INTENTION OF REALLY BEING BURIED WITH THOSE SLAVES. It won’t happen! Period! But, I digress…So, Dog Chapman says that the answer to “Why is Dog buried here?” will be:

“Because that White man made a terrible mistake and he requested that…This is where I deserve to be, a grave without marker if they are going to be that, too.”

Well, he’d be the only person there that deserves a grave without a marker (his words) because those slaves certainly didn’t deserve to be thrown into unmarked graves.

My sister had me cracking up, when she said that it was funny hearing the Dog make those comments because he looked like an old Black man, who can pass for White. I had to look twice, but I can see what she means. Maybe, if we do his family history, Dog will realize that the idea of being buried with slaves isn’t so ridiculous after all!

The reality is that Dog should let those souls rest in the peace they didn’t receive in life. They’re probably turning in their graves right now in fear that this narcissist will be casting a shadow over them in the future.

Note to all celebrities and pseudo-celebrities: When making an apology, apologize and shut the hell up. You always make it worse, when you try to explain.


Adverse Actions: Heightened Scrutiny by Coworkers at an Employer's Request

According to the EEOC, an adverse action is an action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include:

-- Employment actions such as termination, refusal to hire, and denial of promotion;

-- Other actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance; and

-- Any other action such as an assault or unfounded civil or criminal charges that are likely to deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights.

Once again, the EEOC web site contains an example of an adverse action that reminds me of illegal corporate behavior that is very familiar to me. The example is this:

A Black worker has filed a charge alleging that he was racially harassed by his supervisor and co-workers. After learning about the charge, the Black worker’s manager asked two employees to keep the Black worker under surveillance and to report back about his activities. According to the EEOC, the surveillance constitutes an "adverse action" that is likely to deter protected activity, and is unlawful if it was conducted because of the Black worker's protected activity. The statutory retaliation clauses prohibit any adverse treatment that is based on a retaliatory motive and is reasonably likely to deter a complaining employee or others from engaging in protected activity.

Some of you may have experience with complaining about racially-based mistreatment and then suddenly having coworkers subjecting you to heightened scrutiny at the employer’s request. Some companies will go all out in their recruitment efforts to get corporate spies, particularly in race-related incidences. If the employer is convinced that someone in their employment did violate anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and/or anti-retaliation statutes, the employer may feel compelled to do a James Bond in order to find anything that can provide the company with cover.

All many employers can think of is how they can pull a bait and switch. Instead of focusing on accusations of race-based violations, the company may focus on presenting the complaining worker as a habitually problem employee. It is not uncommon for employers to come up with negative patterns of behavior to use against a complaining employee. So, they may ask coworkers to watch the complaining employee and then they may try to use anything perceived as ammunition against the employee as justification for the treatment of the complaining worker.

A harassed employee may be having problems sleeping, may be physically ill due to the stress of their work situation, may be depressed, etc. This employee may have a day or two of getting into the office late because of the dread they feel about being a target at work. Coworkers who are assigned to watch the employee may report two instances of lateness in a 2 week period, for example. An employer might then use the spies/coworkers as evidence against the complaining worker. They can do this by presenting the complaining employee as someone who’s had a chronic problem with attendance, which is a lie. And, then they can use the spies as corroborating witnesses to their position. During an investigation, even without written documentation citing a problem with lateness, an employer might be deemed credible, when making false accusations about work attendance/punctuality.

Now, accusations of lateness have nothing to do with the allegations from the employee that they've been subjected to race-based mistreatment. However, an employer would rather have that discussion (about fake performance issues on the part of the complaining employee), then deal with the realities of their work environment.

This may sound paranoid, but it’s not. I had a coworker, who couldn’t keep it to herself that she was coming into work early and staying late to spy on her manager at the request of authorities within her department. She was told to rummage through her manager’s desk for anything that could be used against the manager. Previously, this manager was accused of playing the race card and of being a race-baiter, who was only interesting in filing a race-based lawsuit against the company. So, the company wanted this manager’s office nearly ransacked in order to find out what she was up to, if she was informing anyone of her issues in the office, if she had sought outside assistance against the company, etc.

This is just a warning that you should be careful with how you judge your relationships at work. It is fine to trust some people you work with, but you should remember that many people can have their heads turned by promises of promotions, bonuses, etc. Be careful about sharing private information about your complaint and about speaking about your mistreatment with coworkers. You don’t know who is a company spy.

If you do have suspicions that you are being watched by corporate spies, you should document any behavior, words or actions that support this perception. You should be sure to include these suspicions in any report of potentially illegal behavior as adverse actions are illegal.

If you are being watched, it may be part of your employer’s efforts to stop you from engaging in the protected activity of complaining about racially-based mistreatment/violations of civil rights statutes. The use of corporate spies can also be used as a signal to other employees that they will receive the same treatment, should they ever decide to complain.


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One New Hire Can Derail or Destroy a Career

I was looking at the EEOC web site and came across a legal decision that caused an extreme sense of déjà vu because the decision contained language that mirrored a racially-based employment action used against a good friend.

According to the EEOC web site, the decision for Thomas, 183 F.3d at 62-65 denied the summary judgment for an employer because a reasonable person could conclude that the Black plaintiff’s layoff was based on racially biased performance evaluations. Specifically, after a new supervisor was hired in a department, the plaintiff, the office’s only African American customer service representative, went from being one of the highest rated employees to one of the lowest rated. The evidence suggested that the new supervisor deliberately undermined the Black plaintiff’s work, rated the plaintiff harsher than Whites, and that the plaintiff’s earlier high ratings were more accurate.

My good friend had been receiving yearly performance evaluations, which rated her as exceptional across categories. She received the highest ratings the company had to offer. TWO DAYS after a new, non-Black director was brought in, my friend was told that “a number of people” had all sorts of complaints about her job performance and behavior. FOUR DAYS after this director was brought in, my good friend was suspended. Mere weeks after that she was hit with a RIF (reduction in force). Yet, the new director was seeking applicants to consider for her position, among others. So, there really was no reduction or restructuring taking place. That excuse for letting her go was simply a pretext to hide the racially-based motive to run her out. Fake performance issues and documentation of these fabricated performance deficiencies served to fulfill the intentional purge of Black workers from this new director’s department.

It just goes to show how the hiring of one person, who is racist, can change the dynamics in an office and the direction of someone’s career. Even more, the hiring of one racist can have a huge impact on a Black worker’s future at their current place of employment. It’s horrible to be targeted for racial motives. It’s even worse to be fired, laid-off or forced to resign because of racism.

It’s a shame that some supervisors and other members of authority get away with targeting Black workers from their very first day of employment. Do you realize how racist you have to be in order to be unable to control your racist impulses during your first days and weeks of employment? If you don't even want to pretend not to be racist, you really do have it bad. Psychotic bad!

Thankfully, some Blacks report these individuals to agencies, such as the EEOC, in order to vindicate their rights and to hold employers responsible for letting racist supervisors and others with authority violate the law.

There is still a lot of fighting to be done in this struggle to end racially-based abuses.


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IN THE NEWS: The "Dog" to do some "splaining" tonight

As I predicted, Duane "The Dog" Chapman will appear on Larry King Live to explain his racist rant, which was caught on tape. The interview will appear tonight. Larry King's shows seems to be a must-appear for anyone caught making racist, homophobic or other socially unacceptable comments. In other news, there is speculation that the Dog's son leaked the audiotape to The National Enquirer for $15,000!


IN THE NEWS: Teen Scrawls "KKK" on Sleeping Black Student

Staten Island, NY – A White teen has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly scrawling the letters “KKK” on a Black classmate, who feel asleep in class.

The Black student woke up to find that “KKK” was written on the back on his sweater and on his pants. The White student, 15 years old, says he scrawled the hateful letters as part of a “prank.” He also claims the Black student was awake, when he did it and knew it was a joke. The White student was charged as a juvenile with second-degree aggravated harassment as a hate crime.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Documenting a Rude and Abusive Coworker or Supervisor

There are some people in the workplace, who become absolute nightmares whenever they are stressed out by deadlines or other work or professional issues. When they’re not stressed out and frustrated, they may be great to work with. But, when they are feeling any kind of pressure, they may become demanding, demeaning, bullying, etc. in how they interact with everyone around them. These people make it seem as though you are working with a Jekyll and Hyde type character. While these people are difficult to work with, at least they are only problematic on a part-time basis.

Unfortunately, there are some people in the workplace, who are venomous and nasty all of the time. They like to be sharp-tongued, sarcastic and offensive just for the hell of abusing their coworkers or subordinates. If they are racist, then they are likely going out of their way to abuse members of other races.

Regardless of whether or not you are dealing with part-time or full-time abuse at work, you have to make sure to document everything that’s going on. Even if you want to try to be the so-called bigger person in the situation or you are fearful of making a complaint for fear of looking like a whiner or out of fear of retaliation, you may change your mind at some point and want to make an official complaint to a supervisor or to Human Resources.

Once you know you are dealing with someone who intentionally or unintentionally shows they have no self-control, self-censorship, compassion, empathy or professionalism, you should immediately begin documenting this individual—even if it is a supervisor or someone else in authority. Remember, as you are documenting the individual, you should also be making them aware that you find their behavior to be rude and hostile and you should inform them that their method of communication does not work well with you. Ask if you can meet face-to-face to talk about how you can work better together and to come to some understanding. But, again, you should be documenting the person despite any efforts to correct the problem without managerial intervention.

You can do this by creating a log/tracking sheet to document any incidents of abusive, hostile, harassing or retaliatory behavior from the person. This might include threats to your job or threats of physical violence, having papers or other items thrown at you, being subjecting to name-calling or racial epithets, being screamed at privately or in front of coworkers, being given menial assignments, etc. All of this negative and potentially illegal behavior should be tracked.

On top of logging incidents with this person, you should also keep a list of witnesses. These witnesses can confirm your version of events to management or Human Resources. This will provide you with credibility about your complaints and will demonstrate to management that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. When compiling a list of witnesses, also keep track of the specific incidences that each person witnessed. By tracking witnesses with incidences, you will diminish any confusion at a later time and you will make it easier for an internal or external investigator to proceed with their questioning and to come to an understanding of what’s been transpiring at work.

You must also keep electronic and hard copies of rude, offensive, and hostile emails or other written correspondence with this person. Save the electronic files and forward them to your personal email accounts online (e.g., an AOL or Yahoo! or Google email account). You can also forward rude and offensive emails to the individual’s supervisor or manager raising the issue about the lack of professionalism being displayed and pointing out the hostile/harassing tone of the communication. Ask for the supervisor to address the issue with their subordinate. Make sure they understand that you will make a complaint to Human Resources, if nothing is done.

Another thing you can do is to save rude, offensive, and hostile voice mail messages. Never delete these messages. Better yet, use a tape recorder to record the message, in case someone else inadvertently deletes the message for you. You would not believe how corporate spies will rummage through your office on company orders. I’ve had it done to me and have seen this done to a coworker. Files in my office were moved, items on my desk were examined, contents of my drawers weren’t as I left them, etc. Always assume that someone might destroy your evidence and consider ways to preserve any key evidence you might need at a later time.

If the person is refusing to correct their behavior, despite your requests, seek out their supervisor and have a discussion—if you haven’t already done so. Present your evidence and state unequivocally that you won’t tolerate the abuse any longer. Ask the person what they plan to put an end to the abuse. If after a short time, nothing changes, contact Human Resources—or you can do this jointly with speaking to the supervisor. If your supervisor or manager is the perpetrator of the abuse, contact Human Resources or your supervisor’s supervisor/manager. If your supervisor is your abuser, you don’t have to notify your supervisor about your official complaint because the law recognizes the conflict with that scenario and does not force employees to report abuse and harassment to the abuser and harasser.

The nuclear option is reporting potentially illegal abuse to the EEOC, the Office of Human Rights or some other fair practice employment agency.

Remember, you do not have to subject yourself to abuse and harassment at work. Regardless of how well you are being paid, a hostile work environment is NEVER part of the deal!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

IN THE NEWS: "Dog" Caught on Tape in Racist Rant

I’ve just got some news to report on this glorious Friday.

A&E Network star, Duane “Dog” Chapman has been caught on tape spewing racist venom about his son’s Black girlfriend. Dog, the star of Dog the Bounty Hunter, was having what he thought was a private phone discussion with his son. But, the call wasn’t private. In fact, a recording of the call was released to The National Enquirer.

Apparently, Dog was angry that his son (also a bounty hunter and a star on his show) is dating a Black teacher. Dog didn’t want the woman around because her presence would stop members of his crew from using the word “ni**er.”

Dog said, “I don’t care if she’s a Mexican, a whore, whatever. It’s not because she’s black, it’s because we use the word ni**er sometimes here…I’m not going to take a chance ever in life of losing everything I’ve worked for, for 30 years, because some fuc*ing ni**er heard us saying ni**er.”

Dog even said he feared that a recording or tape of someone using the racist epithet might be turned over to the National Enquirer. Isn’t that ironic? But, there was more.

“It’s not that we use the word ni**er. We don’t mean, ‘You fuc*ing scum ni**er without a soul. We don’t mean that shit, but America would think we meant that…You can’t work here if you don’t break up with her,” Dog said. A&E immediately shut down production on Chapman’s show. Chapman issued an apology, which read:

"My sincerest, heartfelt apologies go out to every person I have offended for my regrettable use of very inappropriate language. I am deeply disappointed in myself for speaking out of anger to my son and using such a hateful term in a private phone conversation. It was completely taken out of context. I was disappointed in his choice of a friend, not due to her race, but her character. However, I should have never used that term. I have the utmost respect and aloha for black people – who have already suffered so much due to racial discrimination and acts of hatred. I did not mean to add yet another slap in the face to an entire race of people who have brought so many gifts to this world. I am ashamed of myself and I pledge to do whatever I can to repair this damage I have caused.

"In Hawaii, we have something called Ho'oponopono, where people come together to resolve crises and restore peace and balance. I am meeting with my spiritual advisor, Rev. Tim Storey, and hope to meet with other black leaders so they can see who I really am and teach me the right thing to do to make things right, again.

"I know that all of my fans are deeply disappointed in me, as well, as I have tried to be a model for doing the right thing. I did not do the right thing this time, and hope you will forgive me. We learn from our mistakes, as my story of overcoming a life of crime has proven, and I will learn from this one for the rest of my life."

My prediction is that Dog will apologize some more, meet with some Black folks, go on some show like Larry King Live and go right back into production on his reality show. Such is the American way.

Anyway, to hear the short version of the recording, check out the link:

The full National Enquirer story can be found here, with a link to the full recording:

Sources: NY Daily News, TV Dirty ‘Dog’ Shock, by David K. Li, 11/1/07 and


Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Quit You: Breaking Up with a Coworker!

Many of us spend more time with coworkers than we do with members of our family and friends. Just think about the 8 hours a day you may work with the same people on specific projects—and that’s before you consider any overtime you may be spending with these individuals.

While it’s nice and Candyland to think that we’re all going to get along, especially because we spend so much time together, there are going to be people we are forced to work long hours with who we can’t stand. And, they can’t stand us. And, that’s fine! So, long as everyone behaves like an adult and puts the company’s interests before their own. We’re paid to do a specific job and not to make friends. Any bonding that’s done is a perk. It’s not required or necessary or possible to be on very friendly terms with everyone.

There are many actions, personality traits, etc. that can make someone undesirable and difficult to work with. But, one of the biggies is dealing with someone who refuses to take an ounce of responsibility for their words and actions. These people specialize in lying on and blaming everyone around them for all manner of problems that crop up at work. They may even blame people for petty issues that don’t really require a scapegoat.

When a Black worker is dealing with a racist, who behaves this way, AND they are the only or one of a few minorities in this person’s immediate circle of coworkers, a Black worker can get an extraordinarily large bull’s-eye placed on their back. A racist, who is generally unaccountable for the consequences of his/her actions AND who has any amount of authority (and often who does not), will usually pick one of the nearest Black workers to scapegoat. If you were on a project with the person on any level, you might end up with full responsibility for a mistake.

I worked with a racist supervisor, who assigned me to a very minor task on a project—out of nowhere. This was her baby. She worked on this project with her supervisor and her favorite underling. All of a sudden, they needed me. Not even 5 business days later, I was blamed by my supervisor for the entire collapse of the project, which was withdrawn and defunded by our government client. I had NOTHING to do with the issue that caused the project to be deactivated, but suddenly it was my work on this tiny assignment that was the thorn in the client’s side. I had to send an email to our mutual director (forwarding her email of blame) and state that I found it interesting how I was suddenly being “empowered” and that I didn’t realize my status at work had been elevated to that of a project supervisor. I included my supervisor in the email to our director. She immediately raced into my office to eat her words and turn it into “miscommunication.” This was despite the fact that she directly blamed me for the client’s anger. She didn’t hint around it. The issue is that she knew the client was unhappy and premeditated a scapegoat—me!

Some people just refuse to take their fair share of the blame for anything. You can’t always resolve a situation with someone who refuses to admit their mistakes and who won’t acknowledge how their words and actions contributed to a problem. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree with people like this or you may need someone to intervene, if the two of you can’t work things out amongst yourselves.

Sometimes people simply have a tough time figuring out a way to communicate that works for both of the people involved. When you’re dealing with a racist, they may be intentionally causing any type of conflict they can engage in with a Black worker. But, if you’re dealing with someone where the two of you are just oil and water, having nothing to do with race, you may have some chance of salvaging a positive work relationship. But, sometimes it’s just impossible.

If you’ve tried different approaches with a person, sought guidance on working with them, and you still can’t foster a positive work relationship, request that you two not be assigned to the same projects.

Yes, I understand, we’re talking about work. You can’t always and aren’t always in a position to dictate who you work with. But, if a person is causing you low morale, makes you nauseous or gives you a headache when you have to work with them, is causing you to feel anxious or angry, or makes you consider seeking other employment--and management isn’t doing anything that has resolved the tense relationship--you have a right to request a workplace free of this type of stress.

One thing I can suggest is that you track your interactions with this type of person and use a log of negative incidences to support your case for limiting or discontinuing a working relationship with this coworker.

I’ve had to make this request to a Site Director. Of course, she tried to push me to work with this person, who was blaming me for every problem on her project and was continually reporting me to my supervisor (her lunch buddy) and my managing director (another lunch buddy). I was steadfast in my commitment not to work with this individual again.

I presented direct quotes of negative and offensive comments this person made to me and to others about me, I provided specific examples of problems I was blamed for that were due to her mismanagement of the project, I explained that this person never gave me an ounce of criticism, but always showed up at my supervisor’s door to complain about me, and I drilled home the point that any conversations with this woman ended up with her blaming things on miscommunication or a misunderstanding--as if I would pick-and-choose when I could understand the English language.

By the time this individual showed up for the meeting, she arrived late, the Site Director announced to her that we would not be working together again and that a consultant would be brought in--if needed to complete the work. This individual tried to defend herself by stating that I misunderstood her. A moment later she repeated that the problem was simple miscommunication. When she used the “mis” words, the Site Director looked at me and knew I was telling the truth about my work environment. I was off the project immediately.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there truly is just a simple misunderstanding. Or, perhaps, there may be some cultural differences. But, other times, there is actual malicious intent, racism, elitism, etc. that may be at the core of what has taken place.

You can’t cure the world. You are only responsible for yourself and your actions. Don’t let things build up. It’s up to you to clarify what you will and won’t tolerate--even if that means seeking assistance from Human Resources or senior management within your company.

We are in relationships with our coworkers that can be as sick and dysfunctional as those relationships we have in our personal lives. Just like that last boyfriend or girlfriend, sometimes you have no choice except to break up!

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