Thursday, March 29, 2007

Reporting Harassment

According to the EEOC, an employer should make clear that it will not tolerate adverse treatment of employees because they report harassment or provide information related to such complaints. An anti- harassment policy and complaint procedure will not be effective without such an assurance.

Management should undertake whatever measures are necessary to ensure that retaliation does not occur. For example, when management investigates a complaint of harassment, the official who interviews the parties and witnesses should remind these individuals about the prohibition against retaliation.

Management also should scrutinize employment decisions affecting the complainant and witnesses during and after the investigation to ensure that such decisions are not based on retaliatory motives.

So, if you have reported harassment or some other form of illegal misconduct, the onus is on your employer to ensure that you are not subjected to retaliation because you’ve spoken up about mistreatment. This means that management should warn those you are making complaints about, as well as other staff being interviewed as material witnesses, that you are not to be targeted in any way shape or form for making a complaint. Your employer’s anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies should be sent in reminder emails to ALL STAFF—periodically—but, particularly after an incident of potential harassment has been reported.

Your employer should not name you or call you out in any communication being sent to all staff. Employees that are serving as witnesses should be warned not to repeat anything that is discussed during an investigation of harassment. Steps should be taken to shut down the rumor mill—before it gets started!

If an employee has made a complaint of harassment and someone with authority to recommend employment actions makes a sudden recommendation to suspend or to demote or to fire, etc. that employee, the employer should automatically question the employment recommendation to determine if the motivation is legitimate or simply a pretext to fire the employee for making a complaint. Employers should not simply take the word of a supervisor, etc., when they are aware that the supervisor is recommending action that could be intentionally retaliatory, may be meant to scare the employee out of opposing illegal mistreatment, and may be meant to intimidate other employees in order to prevent them from opposing illegal mistreatment or from participating in an investigation against the company.

Employers can’t claim deniability by blaming a supervisor for taking action against an employee as though the supervisor were a rogue employee of the company. Supervisors rely on the authority given to them by management and can’t execute a vendetta or any adverse actions without cooperation or intentional ignorance from higher up within the company. The law will not diminish the responsibility of employers to examine all employment actions, particularly against employees that have opposed mistreatment.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Types of Information to Track - Instructions and Procedures

Try to develop the habit of always maintaining a copy of instructions and procedures that you’ve been provided at work. Having a clear record of what you were asked to do and how you were asked to accomplish it will make your life easier down the line. This is especially true if you are provided instructions by a person that later makes an accusation of poor performance against you.

The ultimate fault for any wrongdoing will be with that person—so long as you followed their instructions to the letter. Having a copy of instructions and procedures may not stop a coworker or manager from saying that you should have read between the lines and taken some undocumented steps, but it does go a long way in showing that you followed the proper course of action. Remember not to skip any steps in someone’s procedures or instructions. If you think steps are unnecessary, ask before not deleting them! If the person gives you the go-ahead to skip steps, get it in writing! Send an email confirming they’ve okayed your revised procedures. This will avoid confusion later and will help clear up ultimate accountability for any problems that may develop later.

If you are given instructions verbally, write them down and read them back to the person before they leave your office. After that, follow up with an email that will give that person the opportunity to point out any steps you’ve missed or any misunderstandings with how you should proceed.

Having a copy of instructions and procedures may be very important for a complaint that may develop at a later time. For instance, if someone is accusing you of incorrectly performing your job or of simply not knowing your job, copies of official instructions and procedures can help demonstrate your compliance with the requirements of your job and can show that the accusations against you are blatantly false.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Your Employer May Be Engaging in Discrimination If...

-- African Americans are rarely assigned as task leaders, project managers or project directors that will lead mid-level or high-level assignments.

If there is a glass ceiling regarding job classification, titles, etc., your employer may be engaging in discriminatory behavior by intentionally stifling the careers of Black staff. At my previous job, Blacks couldn't get to a level 5 job classification--out of 7 possible levels. It was nearly impossible to reach a level 4 classification because that was the unwritten high-point for Black staff. As a result, level 3 employees (Black) that were due for a promotion would conveniently begin to hear about "performance deficiencies" as talk of promotions were floated around. In my tenure working at the company, only one Black employee was promoted to a level 4 status and this move was made by a White manager, who was in the process of resigning. My Black coworker believed that he only promoted her because he wouldn't have to live with the fallout of her promotion to a level 4. And, that is how it is for many Black employees around the country. There's a constant battle to break through these barriers.

Some employers have unwritten, yet specific standards/requirements FOR BLACK EMPLOYEES that are unattainable or nearly unattainable. This can also be done by creating specific standards/requirements that are higher than the standards/requirements for White staff. This would naturally result in a longer time frame being required for Blacks to make the same career moves that Whites are able to make. And, it creates hurdles for Blacks that can impede their progress—altogether—towards moving up within the company.

My former employer used manufactured performance deficiencies as justification for denying promotions. But, another way to achieve the goal of not allowing Blacks to work at higher levels is to intentionally marginalize the work and contributions of Black staff and junior level managers in order to state—unequivocally—that they are unqualified for more challenging work, supervisory roles or other top level assignments/roles.

If most, if not all, of the Black workers at your job are in entry level or junior level jobs (with a few Blacks in the mid-level job categories), your employer may be engaging in discriminatory practices. You should take a serious look at the demographics at your company by examining the jobs and levels/classifications of Black staff. Ask around. If other Blacks feel that minorities are being denied job opportunities, etc. simply because of race, start tracking unequal conditions, requirements, etc. and speak to your Human Resources staff. Doing this as a group would be best because there is power in numbers.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Try to Weaken or Destroy Your Employer's Credibility!

One of the tactics you can use to defeat the lies and false accusations of an employer is to attack their credibility—the same as your employer will attack yours!

There are four basic components for looking into who is or isn’t credible: inherent plausibility, corroboration, motive to falsify, and past history. These are the same components that your employer will try to use to show that you—and not they—lack the credibility to be taken seriously.

Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself regarding the four basic components. These components are also helpful in shaping your overall arguments and positions regarding your complaint and any actions taken by your employer.

Inherent plausibility

--Are your employer’s arguments and positions believable at face value? Why or why not?

--Do their statements and evidence (real or fabricated) make sense?
Why or why not?

--Are the actions of your employer justified/appropriate based on allegations or has your employer overreached or overreacted?
Explain your position in detail.

--Do the actions of your employer adhere with written policies and procedures or are there violations?
For instance, does written policy state/suggest that you should have first been placed on oral warning, but your employer jumped 3 phases and suspended you? Or, was your complaint automatically supposed to be internally investigated (based on your complaint), but your employer did not look into the facts/blatantly ignored your complaint? Provide specifics, provide copies of written policies and procedures, and explain how policies and procedures were violated.

When it comes to inherent plausibility, your goal is to shoot holes in every one of your employer’s arguments and positions. You should be thinking of cross examinations at a trial, when the defense is trying to shut down and destroy prosecution witnesses. Attack! Attack! Attack!

Motive to Falsify

--Does your employer have a reason to lie?

If so, show how your employer's cover story is simply designed as a pretext to hide their real motive--discrimination, harassment, etc. Use your employer's arguments against them to expose contradictions, violations of policy, etc. Use circumstantial or direct evidence to show the false case that was built by your employer.

--Do your employer's witnesses have a reason to lie?

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, ‘If you think they’re out to get you, they probably are?”

Well, I’m aware of a case of race-based retaliation, where an employer tried to cover up activities against a Black manager by essentially bribing the Black staff in her department to make statements against her or to pretend they did not know what was going on within the department.

Suddenly, there was a market review conducted of salaries within the department and all of these underpaid Black employees received increases. Additionally, Black employees that were willing to sign false statements against the manager were also given a separate salary increase. There was suddenly a performance award given out with a $1,000 bonus. Coincidentally, a Black person in the manager’s department won the award. The award was touted as being a new annual award, but the award was NEVER given out again!

In my case, my two main witnesses received harassing treatment and were calling me to tell me about sudden performance issues they were being alleged to have. They both felt that they were being told to shut up about what they witnessed and heard being said to me.

These are the things you should try to expose because they show people’s motive to lie on you. Some people do not need money to lie. They will lie simply to win favor with your employer and they will HOPE that lying provides them a benefit somewhere along the line. These types of people may feel lying just amounts to office politics and smartly playing the corporate game, so they will take down anyone that may present them with a problem and they will do whatever it takes to show they are a team player.

Some people have a motivation to lie in order to protect someone in the workplace that is highly valued, that they have a close relationship with, etc. You can help prove motivation by showing the links between staff, managers, important business deals, etc.


--Is there witness testimony?

--Is there physical evidence?

You need to create and maintain a list of witnesses that can back up your story of workplace events. If employees resign, that have witnessed your mistreatment, get their contact information or—at the very least—snoop around and find out what company they’ve gone to work for. You can always look them up later.

If possible, get your witnesses to write statements about what they’ve seen. Ask them to get the statements notarized. Someone close to you may be willing to do this! If you think someone would be hesitant to provide you a statement or even to write down what happened in an email, trap them. Yes, I hate to go there, but sometimes you have to trick people into telling the truth. Just see if you can get the person to engage in an email conversation with you about the incident. You can be like, “Can you believe she called me a ------ ?” And, keep the conversation going as long as possible to show that you were called an offensive name, as per this example, and that someone else heard the slur.

As far as physical evidence, document everything, save all hard copies of important and relevant paperwork (e.g., administrative forms, timesheets, etc.), forward important email, memos, etc. to your personal internet account, and if there has been physical violence—take pictures. If there has been physical violence, you should also call the police and make a report. You can also secretly tape record conversations and meetings. Even if it’s not admissible in court, you can use it to convince an investigator, lawyer, etc. to understand that your case is with merit and should be investigated.

Past Record

--Does your employer have a history of similar behavior and allegations?

You saw how they did Michael Jackson at his trial. Right or wrong, when there is an accusation, there is also an attempt to show a pattern of bad behavior. If you are under attack by your employer, you already know what I am talking about. In my case, one false allegation led to another and another. Before you knew it, my employer was trolling through my previous performance evaluations from years before and they were taking a sentence or two from the section about improving performance. They added this information to my current review and then wrote, in my latest review, that I was habitually and continually having these problems. This was a lie, but they were smart. They needed to make me a problem employee. They could only do that by pretending that I was consistently engaged in negative behavior. They twisted feedback on minor improvements that any employee could make and made them into a federal case that allegedly warranted me being targeted for HR attention.

This is what employers do, when they’ve committed to a course of action against an employee (e.g., setting a person up for termination, demotion, etc.).

You have to take the same tactic and show how your employer has a past history of engaging in mistreatment, misconduct, not investigating allegations of race-based abuses, or how they’ve previously engaged in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc. Ask questions and snoop around. One of your coworkers may have information you can use. Or, you may already know about how someone was dogged out by your employer, but you were uninvolved in the incident. Write down everything you know about that case and any others that are similar or show the same corporate dysfunctions you believe to be a problem in your case. Show the patterns!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Three Components of Circumstantial Evidence

According to the EEOC, the most common method of proving that retaliation was the reason for an adverse action is through circumstantial evidence. A violation is established if there is circumstantial evidence:

1) raising an inference of retaliation - Because you don't have direct evidence you have to show the implications of your evidence by building a thorough case against your employer and its arguments/positions;

2) 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.) - Are your employer's reasons for its actions against you plausible/believable? You have to focus on exposing their lies and destroying their cover story; or

3) if the reason advanced by the employer is a pretext to hide the retaliatory motive - You can show pretext by demonstrating that your employer treated you differently than similarly situated employees (similar jobs/titles, location/job site, job levels/classification, etc.).

Also consider that an initial inference of retaliation arises where there is proof that the protected activity and the adverse action were related. Typically, the link is demonstrated by evidence that:

-- the adverse action occurred shortly after the protected activity; and

-- the person who undertook the adverse action was aware of the complainant's protected activity (opposing discrimination, participating in an investigation, etc.) before taking the action.

So, 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, etc., you should link the timing of filing your complaint with the timing of a quick response by your employer that included adverse actions. Point out that those engaged in executing the performance action knew of your complaint/oppostion to discriminatory practices.

Even if your employer waits to execute adverse actions, you can still prove retaliation, etc. through other circumstantial evidence.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Heightened Scrutiny and Increased Surveillance

If you file a complaint of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc. against your employer, your employer may respond by producing what appears to be evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for whatever employment action was taken against you. However, legally, a violation would still be found if the explanation provided by your employer is a pretext designed to hide the true retaliatory motive.

Typically, pretext is proved through evidence that an employer treated a complainant differently from similarly situated employees or that the employer's explanation for an adverse action is not believable. An adverse action is any action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding.

If you have complained/opposed discrimination, etc. in the workplace, you want to begin tracking and documenting your employer’s pretext(s) by exposing how the so-called legitimate evidence is nothing more than a cover story to justify the real reason they are targeting you—discrimination, etc.

One way you can show pretext is to show that your employer subjected your work performance to heightened scrutiny/increased observation after you engaged in protected activity (e.g., by opposing discriminatory practices, participating in a discrimination proceeding, etc.)

I can give you examples of my experience with heightened scrutiny and increased surveillance. After my former employer was found guilty of retaliating against a Black manager, they came after me for providing truthful testimony about what I heard and witnessed being said and done to the Black manager. I was denied a promotion, denied a justified transfer to take on a new career path for which I was working and received training, and I was subjected to heightened scrutiny and increased surveillance. A couple of weeks after my employers were found guilty of retaliation, I suddenly started hearing about everything that was supposedly being “noticed” or I was told about how things “appeared”. For instance:

-- I was told that people were noticing my hours in and out of the office and that everyone was suddenly questioning my hours. But, my employer wouldn’t accuse me of time sheet fraud, missing deadlines, etc., which would result from an employee not being at work or working shortened days;

--I was suddenly told that everyone questioned if I was really doing work, when I took assignments home. It was stated, “We see you taking things home, but even managers wonder if you really do anything, when you get there.”

--I was suddenly told that all of my emails read “defensively,” with no examples provided and no justification for why this wasn’t a complaint in the previous 7 years I was working at the company;

--I was told that I appeared to be looking for another job; and

--I was told that I appeared to be unhappy and didn’t appear to like working in my department, etc.

Everything I did was scrutinized, pulled apart, and most of it was documented as alleged performance deficiencies. Blanket statements were used to criticize me with no supporting documentation, etc.

So, one of my positions--in my defense to an outside investigating organization--was that I had participated in protected activity (assisting a discrimination investigation) and as a result I was subjected to heightened scrutiny, along with threats to my job security, intimidation, etc.

So, as you fight The Black Factor at work, always think about exposing pretext, the supposedly legitimate reasons why your employer targeted you with some employment action (termination, denial of promotion, suspension, demotion, etc.). If you are the victim of false employment actions and your employer needs to cover it up, they will begin watching you and documenting whatever they think they can use against you.

Think about the levels of heightened scrutiny and increased surveillance that you are being subjected to compared to other similarly situated employees.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Opposition to Discriminatory Practices

According to the EEOC, protected activity includes opposition to a practice that is believed to be unlawful discrimination. Opposition can be shown simply by informing an employer that you believe that he/she is engaging in prohibited discrimination.

Opposition is protected from retaliation as long as it is based on a reasonable, good-faith belief that the complained of practice violates anti-discrimination law; and the manner of the opposition is reasonable. Examples of protected opposition include:

-- Complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination against oneself or others;
-- Threatening to file a charge of discrimination;
-- Picketing in opposition to discrimination; or
-- Refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory.

The anti-retaliation provisions make it unlawful to discriminate against an individual because s/he has opposed any practice made unlawful under the employment discrimination statutes. This protection applies if an individual explicitly or implicitly communicates to his or her employer or other covered entity a belief that its activity constitutes a form of employment discrimination that is covered by any of the statutes enforced by the EEOC.

Because individuals often may not know the specific requirements of the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC, they may make broad or ambiguous complaints of unfair treatment. Such a protest is protected opposition if the complaint would reasonably have been interpreted as opposition to employment discrimination.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

My Experience With Internal Job Openings

To follow-up on a recent post about some companies not posting internal job openings, so that staff can’t get first cracks at available jobs, I’d like to share one of my experiences.

I was working with a White, mid-level manager for about a year. A job opened up, which would have been a promotion for me. This job wasn't posted because my company did not list internal job openings. They would move White staff into jobs or they would hire from outside the company--usually bringing in White staff. Well, this White manager wanted me in the position because I was already doing some of the work and we got along well.

Well, HR and others got together to discuss the available jobs at the company. Afterwards, I was told that I wasn’t a fit to work in the position because the position required a medical background. For the record, it didn’t. The position was about marketing information to medical professionals, organizations, etc. and did not entail any original writing, etc. of a medical nature.

Anyway, I was told to work with this manager until someone was hired. Well, here comes Ms. Young White Chick (not her real last name). So, I had to ask, "What is your medical background?" And, she said, “Both my parents are doctors!”

Yes, her parents being M.D.s qualified as HER medical background. The White manager later told me (the same one that wanted to place me in the position):

“Well we counted that as a medical background because we assumed she’d have a familiarity with medical jargon from hearing her parents speak.”

Well, if that’s all it takes, I have a familiarity with medical jargon from watching Doogie Howser, M.D., Quincy, Emergency One, Trapper John, M.D., General Hospital, ER, Chicago Hope, St. Elsewhere, etc.

Give me a freakin’ break!

So, Ms. Medical Jargon (still not her last name), needed me to help her create handouts and conduct a major client presentation on work I was told she was expert in/was familiar with. Today, she has replaced that White manager in his mid-level job!

This employer never criticized me for not having strong skills, they just wanted something MORE—like parents that were doctors. Funny thing, this was the 2nd time I lost out on a non-posted job opportunity at this company. And, both times, I was asked to train the White staff that were hired from outside the company. But, they supposedly had MORE than I did. I was unqualified to do the work, but qualified to teach someone White how to do the work! It must be nice in White world!

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Refund Anticipation Loan Tactics May Be Discriminatory!

Human Rights Commissioner Kumiki Gibson is investigating some big name tax preparation companies and banks in an effort to find out if they are engaging in illegal discrimination against Blacks and Latinos.

At issue are Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs), money advanced to taxpayers based on an anticipated tax refund. These loans get a big push in minority neighborhoods. Consumers are charged anywhere from 85% to 500% in interest. A recent study by a Manhattan think-tank revealed that the loans drained about $324 million from the poorest neighborhoods from 2002 through 2005.

It has been argued that there is no need for anyone to have an RAL because the IRS can wire funds to taxpayers within 2 weeks of getting a tax return. So, based on the interest rates, etc. it is completely unnecessary to see these types of loans being heavily pushed to low-income consumers.

RALs have never been investigated as a civil rights issue, until now. The Human Rights Commission chose to investigate these loans, without being pressed to do so by consumers.

Ms. Gibson told the NY Daily News, “These products are not beneficial to people who are struggling financially.” She is looking at illegal discrimination because the RALs are pushed almost exclusively in Black and Latino neighborhoods.

Source: NY Daily News, March 15, 2007, “Shark Hunter on a mission,” by Errol Louis.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sean Bell Grand Jury "Shocker"

A last-minute witness has come forward to testify in the grand jury investigation into the murder of Sean Bell, the unarmed Black man killed on his wedding day by undercover NYPD officers.

Police say this witness initially lied to them and said he didn’t see anything. BUT, now he says he saw a 4TH MAN fire one or two shots at undercover cops and then flee, possibly running into a nearby building. The Spanish-speaking witness only came forward because his “Christian conscience” suddenly nagged him to tell what he allegedly saw.

Well, isn’t this convenient?

He shows up on the LAST DAY of the grand jury investigation and tries to turn the whole case on its head! Makes you wonder if this so-called witness was intentionally held off until this very moment. What a dramatic way to send the grand jury into deliberations—by bringing in a last-minute witness that supports the police. It’s like something off of Law & Order or a Perry Mason show.

But, there are a STILL a few problems with the 4th man story, including:

--At the time of the shooting, Police never made a single radio transmission alerting other officers to be on the lookout for a 4th suspect (armed with a gun), fleeing the scene of a police shooting and to be considered armed and dangerous.

--Police and witnesses disagree on whether a 4th man was in the car and fled.

--Witnesses that thought they saw a 4th man couldn’t agree on what he was wearing and their descriptions didn’t match the police version of the story—that the shooter had on a beige jacket.

There are other problems with the 4th man mystery. But, even more mysterious is trying to line up what this new “witness” has to say with the evidence at the scene.

You see, police investigations revealed that ALL BALLISTICS found at the scene came from police weapons. If this 4th man fired his gun, where are the bullet casings?

Can’t help but wonder if this is a manufactured witness, a crazy person trying to get attention, an outright liar, a police snitch being put into action, etc.

I’m just not buying it! Anyway, we’ll see how this all shakes out. Mayor Bloomberg says he will put out more police officers, in case the grand jury doesn’t indict the police officers and there are riots!! What does he know that we don’t know? Is the jury deliberating or has a decision already been made--beforehand?

Source: NY Daily News, Thursday, March 18th, “Last-Minute Bell Shocker” by Alison Gendar and Scott Shifrel.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Your Employer May Be Engaging in Discrimination If...

--your employer denies Black workers the same training opportunities that are provided to White staff.

At some companies, unequal training opportunities may be offered to Black workers or no training opportunities may exist at all! A lack of training in relevant areas can be used as a “legitimate” reason to overlook certain employees, when it comes to providing more challenging work, supervisory opportunities, and promotions.

While working for my former employer, I began taking on assignments in the Research & Evaluation department of our company. I was offered formal training at a local branch (Washington, DC) of a major training organization in the field. However, a Black executive approached me and said, “They send all the White people out to California. Demand to go to California. That’s where the best training is given.”

When I spoke to a Black coworker, she relayed the same story. White employees were automatically sent to California for the weeklong training session. Yet, I was told that I had to train locally. When I pressed for the California training, I heard excuses about how there might not be money in the budget. YET, all the while, a couple of White chicks were going out-of-state for the same training! I ended up getting the California training, but would have known nothing about the superior training provided in California without someone clueing me in to the facts!

I had a Black coworker ask for training directly related to her job requirements. She was told that she could use the last few thousand dollars in the budget to go to this training. HOWEVER…wait for it…

Her White supervisor, the same person that told her she could go to the training, raced to put through a training/travel voucher to go to the SAME TRAINING. Now, this White supervisor previously stated she was uninterested in this training course. But, as soon as her subordinate mentioned it, she gave her the okay, but made sure the money was unavailable for her to attend.

Why did she do this? Fear!

Her Black subordinate had a Master’s degree—the same as she did. The White supervisor had received her Master’s degree a mere 2 months before the Black employee, yet she was rated as superior enough to be this Black woman’s direct supervisor. The Black employee had an additional certification that her supervisor didn’t have—meaning the education advantage actually went to the Black subordinate. Therefore, this White supervisor was not going to let her subordinate get one more leg up on her. So, she pretended to be supportive of the training and then took the opportunity for herself. She knew damn well there was only enough money in the contract for one person to attend.

The Black employee was furious because she was told that she could use the remaining funds and those funds turned out to be depleted by the next day, when the Black employee submitted her form! This is how some Blacks are undermined in the workplace. We may be promised training that no one intends on us having, may be denied training for no valid reason or we may be offered inferior training opportunities—as I was offered.

You have to wonder why a company would intentionally provide some employees with inferior training, since that brings down the skill level of the company—as a whole. In my case, I know for a fact that race was the only difference in determining who would train at which location. One can only surmise that the point was to keep the Black workers at a lower level of expertise and knowledge compared to White staff. This would continue the unwritten policy at my company that did everything possible to ensure that White staff had an advantage over Black staff.

At this same company, some Blacks were denied training opportunities that were defined as being “premature” for them! What the hell does that mean, anyway? Training is just one way that employers may intentionally discriminate against Black staff. You have to look at what is happening at your company and decide if you are not receiving equal treatment. You should address any disparities with your supervisor and/or Human Resources!

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Monday, March 12, 2007

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

A hostile work environment (included under discrimination/harassment of Title XII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. The victim can be anyone affected by the conduct, not just the individual at whom the offensive conduct is directed.

A hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment might be indicated by:

--Use of racially derogatory words, phrases, epithets or being subjected to intentionally malicious and false gossip;

--Demonstrations of a racial or ethnic nature such as a use of gestures, pictures or drawings which would offend a particular racial or ethnic group;

--Comments about an individual’s skin color or other racial/ethnic characteristics;

--Making disparaging remarks about an individual’s gender that are not sexual in nature;

--Negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs);

--Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an employee’s birthplace or ancestry;

--Negative comments regarding an employee’s age when referring to employees 40 and over;

--Being intentionally prevented from performing the requirements of your job;

--Derogatory or intimidating references to an employee’s mental or physical impairment; or

--Physical violence or verbal threats of physical violence or retaliatory actions.

A claim of harassment generally requires several elements, including:

--The complaining party must be a member of a statutorily protected class;

--S/he was subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct related to his or her membership in that protected class;

--The unwelcome conduct complained of was based on his or her membership in that protected class; and

--The unwelcome conduct affected a term or condition of employment and/or had the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with his or her work performance and/or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

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Your Employer May Be Engaging in Discrimination If...

-- Your employer doesn’t post internal job openings or disseminate a list of job openings electronically.

Most employees are not seeking strictly lateral job opportunities. Employees look to improve their standing in the workplace. Denying an employee first crack at internal jobs is a major way to stunt their professional and financial growth opportunities.

If your employer is not making internal staff aware of in-house job opportunities, they are denying internal candidates the chance to apply for positions that could bring them new skills, increase their job level, increase their salary, etc.

When jobs are open at your company, are favored employees—always White—pre-selected for the positions? In other words, when someone resigns or retires from a job, is a White staffer selected to move into their position or is a White person hired for the job –without allowing Blacks or other so-called minorities the opportunity to apply for the position?

If that is the case, this behavior could indicate that your employer is engaging in discriminatory practices by denying Blacks and other minorities the opportunity to apply for internal jobs and to advance within the company.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Lax Performance Evaluation Standards and Guidelines

One of the easiest ways to fulfill a race-related agenda against an employee of color is to use the performance evaluation process against that person. What makes this such a good mechanism for targeting employees is that the content of evaluations, as I’ve mentioned before, is often not reviewed for accuracy by anyone outside the departmental structure.

Human Resources staff are not reading each individual review and questioning accusations or negative content. So, supervisors and managers often feel pretty confident that they can get away with formally trumping up false allegations against Black employees.

When White supervisors or managers use this tactic against Black employees, they often try to disguise the true motivation, which is race-related (e.g., to discriminate against or punish the Black employee, etc.). What they often try to do is to take racially-charged accusations and turn them into race-neutral accusations. For instance, instead of using the stereotype of saying that a Black person is angry and defensive or has a chip on his/her shoulder, etc., the White supervisor or manager will say that the Black person can’t take constructive criticism or is “unapproachable.” The reason is that these types of accusations don’t carry any racial weight with them and they sound like the types of critiques that any employee might receive.

These tactics can make it hard to prove discrimination because they don’t sound racially-loaded and could potentially be true. So, you have to reveal the motives, as I keep reminding you, behind all of the accusations being made about you.

Not only that, you should look at challenging your company’s performance evaluation process, if you believe that your employer uses lax and corruptible standards for evaluating employee performance. Here are some things to consider and argue, regarding performance evaluations at your company:

-- Does everyone get a mid-year review and/or year-end review? If every employee at your company doesn’t receive a mid-year review or a year-end review, the entire performance evaluation process is unfair and inequitable from the start. Every employee should be held to company-wide standards, as well as job specific standards. Therefore, if one employee is being held to the letter of the performance review guidelines and company-mandated standards for performance, EVERY employee must be held to those same standards or disparate treatment/discrimination is applicable. Additionally, if some staff are getting mid-year reviews, they are at an advantage because they know where they stand regarding their performance and they know what they need to improve before the end of the performance review period. EVERY employee should be treated and evaluated in the same way. Find out if some employees are getting mid-year encouragement and advice on their work performance, while others are not.

-- What standards guide the reviewers that administer performance evaluations? For instance, what training are reviewers given before they are allowed to evaluate employees? And, what reviewer errors are they warned against, if any? For instance, are they warned against recency error? Recency error means a reviewer gives a biased performance review based on something RECENT that took place, instead of based on the employee’s entire performance for the review period. This is very damaging, when the recent thing/allegation is negative.

Or, maybe there was subjective judgment error, which means that too much weight may have been placed on an incident (positive or negative). Subjective judgment error can slant a performance evaluation too far in either direction. Reviewers use subjective judgment errors intentionally, when they want to prop up their favorite staff. So, they’ll blow the most routine duties into life-saving, money-saving feats of glory in order to justify a big salary increase or promotion for one of their peons. Subjective judgment error can be used to deny a promotion or significant increase to a targeted/disliked employee. So, a reviewer may use minor incidents or fabricated incidents to ensure that a person is stifled, frustrated, punished, etc. for reasons that may not truly exist, except to serve the agenda of the reviewer.

These are just 2 types of reviewer errors that reviewers should be cautioned against prior to evaluating employees. So, find out if there were any training or reviewer cautions provided by your employer.

-- If there aren’t any official standards/criteria for conducting performance reviews and evaluating employees—there should be basic standards, even for “informal” reviews—how can performance reviews be administered in a fair and equitable manner? Every supervisor, manager, etc. must be using the same criteria for company-wide standards and job specific requirements. This is the only way to ensure equitable treatment and comparable evaluation of employees. And, this prevents some supervisors and managers from propping up desired staff based on lax standards that others don’t benefit from.

-- Can your employer produce a written copy of company-wide standards and job specific/job level/job classification expectations of performance?

-- Can your employer identify when these standards were shared with employees, so they’d know how they would be evaluated?

-- Can your employer identify when official standards were shared with reviewers?

-- Who at the company ensures that the standards are upheld by reviewers? What are the checks and balances for the performance review process?

The reason this is a valid question, is that at my former employer, big problems developed because White managers were targeting Black staff with negative performance evaluations that contained surprise content and false allegations that only served to ensure that these Black employees would not be promoted and would not receive a significant salary increase.

After 2 external investigations were launched, suddenly this employer changed its review process because they alleged that supervisors were ACTING ON THEIR OWN in preparing malicious reviews or inaccurate performance reviews for employees. And, they stated that they suddenly realized that far too many supervisors were not the most knowledgeable about what their subordinates were actually doing. So, instead of having supervisors go to staff or other project managers to find out how their subordinates performed the new policy was that the project manager, etc. that worked with an employee most frequently would be the person identified as the employee’s primary reviewer. A secondary reviewer would also be put in place, to add another layer of REAL input.

While we worked at the company, nothing was done, we were told the process was fair, and we were both told that none of the reviewers assigned to us would be removed. The company forced us to get reviews from supervisors that were engaged in illegal misconduct and that demonstrated clear race-related issues with us.

So, again, a question you might ask is: what are the checks and balances involved in the review process?

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Your Supervisor Should Keep You ON TRACK with Performance Expectations!

At most companies, employees sit down with their supervisor/manager and they discuss that employee’s goals and objectives for a specific performance period. This is done so that employees know the company’s expectations for them and so that the employee can be proactive in working towards the agreed upon goals and objectives. Everyone understands that it would be unfair to have someone working blind. In other words, it would be the fault of supervisors or company management, if employees do not understand what the exact expectations are for their performance and behavior or if they don’t understand the criteria that will be used to evaluate their performance during the employee review period.

If you have a supervisor or manager that hasn’t explained the goals and objectives that you will be and are being judged against, you should initiate a meeting to discuss performance expectations and how you are meeting those standards. The last thing you should want is to walk into a performance evaluation and be blind-sided by surprise commentary regarding performance-related issues that you did not know existed or to be surprised by criteria/standards that you did not know would be applied to you in your capacity on the job.

While part of the onus for knowing standards and expectations resides with each employee, clearly the bulk of the responsibility is with supervisors/managers. These are the individuals that are monitoring and guiding many of the day-to-day activities of workers. And, these are often the members of management that will conduct or oversee the performance evaluations for their department, unit, etc.

During the course of a performance review period, supervisors/managers should:

-- Keep employees on track with goals and objectives that have been predefined, discussed, and agreed upon by each employee—based on their individual job;

--Provide employees with assignments that help them work towards the defined goals and objectives;

--Provide employees with opportunities to learn new skills and increase their knowledge in their job/field;

--Keep thorough notes on the performance of each person they supervisor or manage;

--Solicit feedback (positive and negative) from those who work closely with each employee and maintain notes on those comments. Supervisors and managers need to ensure they are KNOWLEDGEABLE INFORMANTS about their subordinates. They should not make assumptions or listen to hearsay. It is their job to have an accurate idea of how each employee is performing their duties;

--Discuss performance goals, objectives, and coworker feedback—formally or informally—several times per year with each subordinate;

--Provide negative feedback to employees with enough time for the employee to show improvement during the performance period. If the negative feedback happens near the end of the performance period, it may be too late for the employee to make adjustments. However, if the behavior is atypical, the supervisor or manager should not write about any negative behaviors or incidents as though they were the standard way the employee performed or behaved during the review period;

--Avoid surprising subordinates with negative comments and accusations that were NEVER made during the review period. Something that was an issue during the first 3 months of the review period, but was never raised as an issue, should not be thrown out during a performance review because the employee was not allowed an opportunity to refute any allegations or to know there was some performance or behavioral deficiency that required adjustments in behavior; and

--Avoid making performance judgments based on the employee’s personality, race, education level, etc.

Many supervisors and managers, even those that give employee goals and objectives, do not keep thorough notes on employee performance throughout the year. Instead, they wait until they must draft/write performance evaluations before they get into deep Q&A sessions with those who have managed or worked alongside their subordinates.

Therefore, it’s important to:

--Maintain your own record of your accomplishments and achievements;

--Keep all congratulatory emails and cards from internal and external clients;

--Outline how you have met each goal and objective agreed upon with your supervisor/manager;

--Keep a log of any publications, awards, presentations, etc. that occurred during the performance period;

--Maintain a list of new skills you’ve added to your repertoire at work; and

--Keep a list showing the impact of your contributions at work (e.g., you brought in new clients, saved money by streamlining procedures, etc.)

You can do a lot to make your performance evaluation truly reflect your contributions to the company. Make your supervisor and manager have huge hurdles to jump, should they decide to give into the temptation of discriminating against you by intentionally marginalizing your contributions to the work force or by making false claims about your performance in order to deliberately stifle your career.

Show that you have been keeping track of your performance and can PROVE you have a strong work ethic, produce high quality work, are professional, and that you are and should be valued as an employee.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why I Hate Blacks - Formal Apology from AsianWeek

After uploading the previous post on AsianWeek’s published article, Why I Hate Blacks, I came across their official apology for the racially offensive article:

AsianWeek sincerely regrets and apologizes for publishing New York-based contributor Kenneth Eng’s column in the issue of February 23, 2007. AsianWeek rejects Eng’s biased views on a critical segment of American society, African Americans.

While AsianWeek continues to truly believe in diversity of opinion and freedom of the press, we are also very aware that the promotion of hate speech is not appropriate, nor should it be encouraged.

Given that the genesis of the American civil rights movement was borne primarily by the African American community through blood and perseverance, the failing of our editorial process in allowing this opinion piece to go forward, was an insensitive and callous mistake that should never have been made by our publication.

We will be reviewing that editorial process and making any changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again.

The condemnation of this serious lapse in editorial judgment was rightfully taken by civic and community leaders and organizations, including Asian American civil rights groups, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Mike Honda, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Readers of AsianWeek over the past 27-year history clearly know that we reject any racist agenda. On the contrary, our editorial policy has led the way in interracial and multicultural strength and diversity.

As a publication whose motto is the "voice of the Asian American community," we are humbled and overwhelmed at reader response not only chastising our editorial process, but strongly urging our paper to sever all ties to this contributor. We have heard the call and Mr. Eng has been terminated from writing for the paper.

In the future, we will take extra steps to ensure that while diversity of opinion remains a constant pillar in AsianWeek editorial policy, promotion of hate speech of any kind will not and should not ever be tolerated. These steps shall be our ironclad resolve as we start anew in this auspicious Lunar New Year of the Boar.

BLOGGER: To contact AsianWeek you can email or call (415) 397-0220. The Editor-in-Chief is Samson Wong. The web site is

WHY I HATE BLACKS! (An article in AsianWeek)

The article, described below, shows how easy it is for Blacks to come across people in the workplace who have a mindset and racially ignorant beliefs that would strongly contribute to race-based problems in the workplace. Each person brings their own dysfunctions and racial perspectives to every job they work at. Far too often, some people feel the need to express those negative points of view and to wrongly lash out against other races, etc. It cannot be reasonably argued that people who can say and write such negative things about another race will not and would not hold those people to different standards of expectation (performance evaluations, day-to-day duties, etc.) and would not act out against those individuals—if the opportunity presented itself. Very few people have that sort of impulse control that would allow them to fight such strong and negative views of another race. Having given my preamble, please read on:

The editor of San Franciso-based weekly newspaper, AsianWeek, has had to issue an apology because one of his contributing writers, Kenneth Eng, did a piece called, WHY I HATE BLACKS!

Mr. Eng’s reasons for hating Black people include:

--They were enslaved for more than 300 years! What took them so long to fight back?
--They are easy to coerce!
--Blacks hate us [Asians]. He alleges we hurl racial slurs at Asians all the time.

AsianWeek issued a statement regretting "any offense caused by the one opinion piece," and stated, “What this controversy points out is the lack of community leadership in addressing the critical and difficult issues of race relations, particularly between Asian Pacific Americans and African Americans.” The paper plans to co-sponsor a town hall-style meeting with the Willie L. Brown Jr. Institute on Politics & Public Service.

I guess that’s their version of social rehab, which is similar to what Isaiah Washington was forced to do by the producers of Grey’s Anatomy.

Many Asian organizations came out and condemned the article. An Asian scholar (retired) at UC Berkeley has said that Asian American gains have come thanks to the efforts of African Americans.

For the record: AsianWeek calls itself “The voice of Asian America.”

The writer, Kenneth Eng, has also done a piece called, Why I Hate Asians. Someone get him to Oprah or Dr. Phil!

The AsianWeek web site took down the article, but the content can be found at:

Sources: and San Francisco Chronicle

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

You Didn't Leave the Cap Off the Toothpaste!

Racism can be overt in some places, but it’s normally covert at most companies in the nation. So, here’s something to think about, when it comes to a coworker or manager making accusations that you are guilty of some performance deficiency. When you are dealing with racists, in today’s society, very rarely will a coworker be dumb enough to come out and call you a nigger and very rarely will a manager be dumb enough to tell you that you aren’t being promoted because he/she refuses to put a Black person into a certain level job.

As a result, a racist manager like this will come up with other ways to justify denying a promotion to a Black worker. So, the manager will make up a laundry list of false and disingenuous reasons for the denial. The tactics to achieve this/the cap off the toothpaste might include:

--Blaming the Black worker for problems caused by other staff in the department;
--Accusing the Black worker of having a bad attitude or of being insubordinate;
--Stating the Black worker is not a team player; or
--Belittling the accomplishments of the Black worker.

The point is, they will make up some other complaint that hides what their real motivation is—racism! I like to compare this behavior to a couple that has moved in together only to find themselves at each other’s throats. He says the problem is that she leaves the cap of the toothpaste. She says the problem is that he leaves the toilet seat up. Neither of those is the real reason why the couple is at odds. Both of those reasons are simply excuses and cover stories to conceal an underlying problem.

Well, that’s how it is at work. Although you should always do everything in your power to avoid giving White workers and managers ammunition to use against you, remember that any incident or discussion can be twisted and manipulated to fulfill someone’s agenda. Something as simple as the proverbial cap being left off the toothpaste can be sold as if you damn near thrust your middle finger into the client’s face and knocked the person out of a chair!

In my case, I received a report from another office of our company. This report was time sensitive and required feedback from a couple of staff before it could go to our editors for copyediting. So, when I got the report, I emailed it to the other staff that needed to provide input. I included that I’d just received the report—hadn’t reviewed it yet—and asked if everyone could review it—quickly—and mark up a copy with any ADDITIONAL CONTENT that should be included. At that time, I would make a master document with ALL additions and any other changes (read: edits) for our editing team.

I was called into a meeting and criticized because the report, written by staff all senior to me, had a couple of typos in it (exactly 2 typos). I was told that I should have read the report and caught the typos before sending it to other staff for review. The Vice President of our office and her highly senior staff wrote the document and supposedly reviewed it. They were senior to those in my office and just wanted us to add any other thoughts or nuggets that could improve the whole report. Yet, the senior staff were not criticized for sending a report for review that was proofed, but still contained a couple of typos. I was told it was MY FAULT and that I wouldn’t be promoted because those are the sorts of things I should do, in order to work at the next level.

ONE WHITE WOMAN made the complaint about the two typos to my supervisor. She was a known racist in my department. She had a problem with at least 3 other Black women with brown or dark complexions. There were only about 6 Black women at the site out of about 150 employees.

So, my supervisor relays the complaint to me, telling me that I wasn’t going to be promoted, didn’t know how to multi-task, didn’t know how to prioritize my work, and that I didn’t set aside enough time to support this racist’s project.

Yes, ALL THAT from 2 friggin’ typos that came directly from a WHITE VP and her WHITE staff!! The power of White people making complaints against someone Black can have that much weight in some offices and at some companies. How do you extrapolate that many negative connotations from one stupid and petty complaint? All of that extra crap came from left field and has my former employers currently involved in an investigation--right now!

On top of all this, White logic at my company indicated that editors don’t catch typos. Yes, that’s what I was told. Editors are paid to catch typos and other errors, but they don’t. Now, if that logic is true and editors can’t or don’t catch typos, how much success will regular employees have in proofing documents? It’s just a dumb argument to try to use against someone. Professional editors can’t catch these things, but you’re being punished because you didn’t! On top of that, I never claimed to have read or edited the document. It was like, “Anything you want to add to this before it gets proofed?” How hard is that to understand?

Yet, I was told I wouldn’t get a promotion because the assumption was made that I was not going to review the document. And, that even if I did, and didn’t catch the typos—the editors also wouldn’t have caught the typos! I was told the clients would have received a report with typos in it and that it would have been my fault.


If you want to argue that all errors should be removed from a first draft before it can be reviewed by anyone else on a team, than you should send that report to your editors in order to catch EVERYTHING! Or, is the argument to quickly fix typos, but leave all grammatical errors and any other problems in place prior to review? That doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s clearly the expectation. I was told that I should have fixed the typos and not worried about any other problems with the report. Again, HOW MUCH SENSE DOES THAT MAKE? Fix the typos, but leave any inconsistencies and logic errors alone? If it’s okay for review with errors, it’s okay for review with errors. I didn’t do anything that hadn’t been done many times before, when it comes to quick team reviews.

But, it’s the cap was left off the toothpaste argument! It’s the excuse to justify discrimination. After telling me I wouldn’t be promoted, the White coworker (who made the complaint about the typos) and who had outstanding complaints against her regarding her project management abilities (or lack thereof) and her poor communication style (causing problems in other departments) was promoted. There were no complaints like that against me, but I was told I couldn’t be promoted because of a couple of typos made by a Vice President and her senior staff in a NON-FINAL/NON-EDITED VERION OF A DOCUMENT. This is one of the issues I raised in my external complaint against and investigation of this employer.

So, regardless of an issue that is being presented as legitimate, it’s up to you to show that the arguments being used by your employer or manager are nothing more than a pretext to hide their true motives, which are racist, discriminatory and/or retaliatory in nature. You have to build a clichéd house of cards comprised of verifiable testimony (from coworkers or others that have witnessed your mistreatment) and physical evidence (email or other documentation) that can’t be refuted by your employer. Don't let someone use a petty argument to derail your career or to discriminate against you.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Obama Kin Owned Slaves -- The Push to Create a Wedge Between Obama and Black Voters!

Okay, so the whole “let’s get Blacks to distance themselves from Barack Obama” campaign is kicking up another notch.

The Baltimore Sun and New York Post have both reported that Senator Barack Obama’s GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT grandfather and his GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT grandmother owned two slaves each.

Now, most of us know that Senator Obama is the son of a Kenyan father and White, southern mother. It’s her ancestors that owned the slaves. But, you have to ask yourself why this information is being released and why was this information released just prior to Senator Obama delivering a major speech in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 1965 voting rights act and the march in Alabama dubbed “Bloody Sunday”?

Let’s put this into perspective. The main and only legitimate criticism that’s been raised about Senator Obama is that he doesn’t have a ton of experience because he is relatively new to politics.

The other criticisms have been related to Senator Obama’s father being Muslim and that Senator Obama isn’t “Black enough.” We’ve even heard the vulgar term of “Halfrican” being used to describe the White perception that the senator isn’t Black enough for the rest of us Negroes. These types of criticisms do not seem to have been initiated in the Black community. Instead, they come—more often than not—from Whites in the media, particularly Republican conservative journalists, pundits, etc., who are clearly afraid of Senator Obama’s candidacy for President of the United States.

Now, we hear the so-called shocking tale of how Senator Obama’s white kin owned slaves. This, to me, is consistent with what you might expect to find if you conducted a study of many White families in America. There would be a history and finding of slave ownership in many families.

Many Blacks have slave masters’ blood in our veins. How could we not, considering the rampant rapes that took place over the centuries of slavery? Despite that, the issue that some Whites are attempting to create with this story of slave ownership is that Blacks should dislike Senator Obama and should not support him because he has slave master’s blood in his veins from the wrong side of the equation.

But, the fact of the matter is, you don’t choose your bloodline or relatives. Senator Obama did not choose to be descended from slave owners on his maternal side. And, when you consider his life, his words, and his actions (at least what I have learned so far), this seems to be a proud Black man, with a beautiful Black family.

I mean, I even saw a news story in which Senator Obama was condemned by a White anchor because his church “excluded Whites” and promoted a “Black agenda” of positive action for Black families and communities. Now, we’re to believe that he’s somehow aligned with a pro-slavery belief system because of his ancestry alone.

This is just a reminder that you have to question who’s telling you what and what they want you to do with the information. This information wasn’t pushed to provide any insight into Senator Obama because it provides nothing that’s truly meaningful, from my perspective. This information doesn’t say that Senator Obama used to cry himself to sleep at night because he was half African and he hated his facial features. This information is, again, about something that is not in the senator’s control. This information is not about reporting news, it’s designed to shape and change perceptions—to intentionally influence readers. Yes, the news is often very subjective and not objective. However, let’s see how subjective the news is for Senator Obama, as his campaign marches on.

For the record: Senator Obama’s campaign says, “…it is a true measure of progress that the descendant of a slave owner would come to marry a student from Kenya and produce a son who would grow up to be a candidate for President of the United States.” (Source: NY Post, Saturday, March 3, 2007, Obama’s kin once owned slaves, Post Wire Service)

BLOGGER NOTE: At this time, I have not chosen a candidate to support for President. I’m just very interested in seeing the way information is manipulated and I look forward to seeing how all candidates approach Senator Obama, who is already being dubbed “The First Legitimate Black Candidate for President.” I want to see what similarities exist with the way the senator is criticized and analyzed compared to how many Blacks are criticized and analyzed by Whites. I have no doubts there will be overlaps. We’ve already seen the “not enough experience” issue being used against the senator. Not having enough experience is often used against Blacks in the workplace, yet it’s often not a handicap that prevents Whites from excelling on the job and in other venues. How many Blacks have trained White new hires only to see those Whites promoted within months—including into management jobs? These are the issues that intrigue me. Therefore…

the story will continue…

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Links!

I've added a few more resources, so check out the Links section of the page!

You've Got to Prove Your Case!

When you are contemplating filing a race-based complaint, internally or externally, think about how you will overcome the lies that your employer probably has already told about you.

An employer can make up any excuse to justify employment actions against an employee. These excuses don’t have to be proven unless the employee complains about the action. So, the employer can go ahead and accuse you of fabricated performance deficiencies and use those false allegations to deny you a promotion, for example. Unless you say, “I’m being denied advancement for reasons that are without merit…,” no one will ever examine the charges against you. Human Resources is not going to step in and say, “Wait a minute. That’s not the [insert your name] that I know. What’s going on?”

Unless you work for an extremely small company, HR staff may know your name, they probably remember what department you’re assigned to, they may remember your title, but they don’t know your specific contributions to the company—during any given day, month or year. So, don’t think someone in HR will get suspicious, if you are suddenly accused of very negative behavior at work, which is completely out of character for you.

They don’t know you like that and, half the time, HR staff isn’t getting into that level of detail on any employee, unless they are asked to give input on an employment situation—usually at manager’s/supervisor’s, etc. request. When I worked in HR, not one HR staff person read the performance evaluations that were filtered through our office for filing. We simply got a copy, ensured that the employee signed that they read and understood the review, ensured that the supervisor signed the review, and placed the review in the employee’s personnel file. That was it! We never read it to see if anything was fishy or inconsistent or contradictory or just plain unacceptable at face value.

So, it’s up to you to challenge false allegations that a coworker or supervisor, etc. is making about you that are impacting your career or work environment in a negative manner.

If you decide to challenge a false claim, the first thing you need to consider is how you are going to refute the lies. In other words, based on the example, how do you prove that you don’t have performance deficiencies? Well, you could:

--Show copies of previous performance evaluations that contradict what was said;
--Produce copies of emails that contradict new negative allegations against you; and
--Show thank you cards form clients and coworkers; etc.

I know, I’ve gone over some of this before, but we—as a people—really need to get these things drilled into our heads! What else can you do?

Go to the personnel manual. Try to show that your supervisor, employer, etc. violated the company’s own written policies and procedures. That is powerful! Your employer is then forced to justify why they did not follow the pre-existing guidelines they established. This goes a long way in showing an agenda against an employee and shows clear intent, not an accident, in executing an employment action!!

If you are placed on probation, for example, based on false allegations, go to the personnel manual. What does the manual say about handling management issues? If the manual says that an employee should first be given 1) an oral warning; 2) a written warning; 3) be placed on probation, your employer would have to answer why they jumped to step #3 of their own process. They have to justify why what you did was so egregious they violated their own policy, especially if you don’t have a history of having any performance issues.

Other things you could do include:

--Getting witness corroboration to support your version of events. Ask coworkers to write statements for you or to speak to HR reps on your behalf. Getting support in writing is best!

--Tape recording meetings to get verbal threats, racial epithets, etc. on tape.

--Keeping a log of all race-based incidents, incidents of harassment, etc. with specifics details on who did what and when!

--Requesting an internal investigation to place the burden on the company to stop or reverse the fraudulent employment action. Get the HR department on record, should you need to go to a lawyer or outside investigatory agency!

--Keep a log of all the lies your employer tells and write specific quotes (include the date and time of conversations, etc.). Put yourself in a position to have fantastic recall of who said what and when!

Don’t just hand over your career to workplace racists! Fight for what you have earned. It’s a small world. You never know who you will be working with again in the future, especially if you work in a targeted industry. A bad and falsely earned reputation can haunt you for years!

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