Monday, April 30, 2007

Handling Performance Evaluations - Part I

Sorry for not posting this morning. I lost my Internet connection and couldn’t restore my service before leaving for work. Anyway, here’s today’s post…

In the past, I’ve written numerous posts about negative performance evaluations and I’ve provided some suggestions for performance reviews. The reason why performance evaluations are heavily covered on this blog is because some people in the workplace are very good at hiding the real motivation behind their actions against Black and other minority employees—racism.

Anyone, who is under attack at work, must show that the reasons their employer has given for the "special attention" are nothing more than a pretext to hide their real motivation—active racism. This can’t be stressed enough. It is up to you to point out the lies and inconsistencies being offered by whoever is attacking you on the job.

Performance evaluations are a great way for a racist to hide their motivations for stifling the career of a Black or minority employee, to justify any negative employment actions they’ve taken against a Black or minority employee, and to set the employee up for future employment actions, up to and including termination. Empowered racists in the workplace (those with authority to direct the work of others, to suggest tangible employment actions, such as suspensions and demotions, etc.) heavily rely on their ability to corrupt the legitimate processes, procedures, and policies at a company for their own evil purposes. And, performance evaluations are a favored way of accomplishing many goals, when it comes to harassing, retaliating against or discriminating against Black or other minority workers.

Many racist managers make it very clear, when a minority worker is going to receive a negative review. These managers spend a lot of time laying the groundwork to provide a horrible review to minority workers. So, many Black workers are not surprised to walk into a review and hear all manner of falsehoods, misrepresentations, etc. regarding their performance and behavior during a review year. But, sometimes, there are surprises.

In my case, my supervisor created a mid-year performance evaluation process that was unprecedented. The sole purpose of the review was to retaliate against me to for providing truthful testimony in an investigation involving a Black manager. So, she decided to give me a very negative mid-year review at a company that never gave mid-year reviews. And, she followed it up with a very negative year-end review.

So, don’t make any assumptions going into a performance review meeting. You never know how it will turn out. So, it’s best to prepare for the best or worst case scenarios. Keeping that in mind, here are some tips for handling performance evaluations:

Tip #1: Know the performance evaluation guidelines at your company! If the guidelines aren’t included in the personnel manual, find out if there is other documentation and ask HR for a copy. You have a right to know the standards and criteria that will be used to judge the performance of EVERY employee. Without knowing the standards, you won’t know if you are being treated equitably and fairly, compared to other staff.

Additionally, knowing the guidelines for performance evaluations will help you hear anything “fishy” that’s said and can help you spot violations of corporate policies. For instance, your performance evaluation guidelines may state that recency errors shouldn't negatively impact your review. Therefore, if your supervisor is putting extreme weight on something that happened in the weeks prior to your review AND you never had a problem such as that, your supervisor may be engaging in recency error. This means that your review is being skewed towards the most recent negative behavior you showed as opposed to reflecting the entire review period—as it should!

Tip #2: Ask for a copy of your draft performance evaluation—in advance! Some employers allow employees to see a draft copy of their performance review in order for employees to prepare notes and questions for their performance review meeting. If policy allows you to see an advance copy of your review, make sure you do! If your supervisor doesn’t mention this, ask for a copy of your review. You don’t have to provide any other reason for seeing the review, except that you are entitled to a copy of the review (assuming it is in the policy/guidelines) and you want to be prepared for your review meeting.

Tip #3: If you don’t get an advance copy of your review, ask for a copy of your review AT THE START OF YOUR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION MEETING! Many managers like to read the review to employees and provide them with a copy of the review after the review meeting. However, a person can read a review anyway they want to make it sound one way or another. Your supervisor can read you a watered down version of the review. Or, your supervisor might skip several key and highly critical sentences contained the review. This might be for malicious reasons or this might be done because your supervisor doesn’t like confrontation, etc. But, you don’t know what the review says unless you read it yourself.

Remember, you are usually expected to sign the review before you leave the performance evaluation meeting. There’s not a scenario where you’re asked to take the review home, think about the content, sign it, and return it to your boss. You shouldn’t have to skim the review at the end of the meeting because your supervisor allegedly read the entire thing to you. I think we all know that supervisors usually want us to rush through the reading of the review and to just sign and get out of their office, so they can do the next review or just be done with the process. But, you should be able to completely read the review—AND ASK QUESTIONS. And, there shouldn’t be an issue with you reading the review as your supervisor is discussing it/reading it aloud. You can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Many more tips will be provided tomorrow. Stay tuned…

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

LEGAL BRIEF: Justice Department Says FDNY Hiring Practices Are Discriminatory!

The Justice Department has authorized the filing of a lawsuit against the city of NY based on the findings of an investigation that showed that the FDNY’s recruitment process discriminates against Blacks and Hispanics.

The FDNY has responded by stating they’ve made major changes in their recruitment techniques in order to attract more minority candidates. The FDNY commissioner, Nicholas Scoppetta said the FDNY isn’t looking for a fight, just a reasonable solution to the problem. Last year, City Hall gave the FDNY $1.4 million to use toward minority recruitment.

A lawsuit will be filed within 30 days, unless some sort of settlement is reached. If a judge is brought in to review the FDNY’s hiring practices, one solution could be to require one minority candidate to be hired for every three non-minority candidates.

Source: The NY Daily News, We'll Deal With Heat-FDNY, By John Marzulli and Jonathan Lemire, Wednesday, April 25, 2007

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who Can Say (or ask) What in the Workplace?

Ever since the Don Imus incident, White people are acting like they’re completely clueless, when it comes to knowing what is and isn’t okay to say to and about Black people.

Articles and news segments featured titles like, Who Can Say What? As if there was some possible scenario by which Don Imus and company could call Black women Jiggaboos, nappy-headed hos, and hardcore hos. Let me be perfectly clear, there was never such a scenario. And, all of this feigned desired to really understand what’s okay to say to and about Black people is starting to really get on my nerves.

It’s almost as if the issue is about Blacks being so-called ultra-sensitive and not about the crude remarks that were made. People are acting like Blacks blew the racist comments out of proportion. Oh, can’t you people take a joke?

But, isn’t that one of our age-old stereotypes? Yes, Blacks have long been painted as hypersensitive. On top of that, we’ve also been painted as child-like and intellectually inferior. Therefore, when you combine that nasty triad of stereotypes, you can see how some White people are convinced that Blacks—and not Don Imus and his cronies—are the issue to be addressed.

And, so we now have this huge focus on rap music. However, the natural offshoot of the Don Imus incident would have been to target other radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh, etc. No, Whites weren’t going to have another White person fall on their sword, like Don Imus. So, they did the bait and switch and Blacks fell for it. Whether rap music deserves to be cleaned up or not—and I think it does—that was not the logical discussion to have following the Don Imus incident. The logical discussion was to continue to discuss these so-called shock-jocks and to clean up that “business” FIRST!!

I’ve said it before, Don Imus WAS AT WORK, when he made his comments. He had a job. He wasn’t just sitting on the airwaves completely freelancing. Don Imus had an employer. Too many Whites are acting like he was a rogue personality with no responsibilities to anyone else—or to society, as a whole.

I believe 100% that the termination of Don Imus is being greeted with this passive aggressive retaliation from many Whites. It’s like their attitude is “You took down one of ours, now we’re going to take down some of yours!” Rap music is the new target of Whites and the excuse is that rap music is misogynistic and degrades Black women. Oh, that’s what really has Whites riled up, huh? Degrading Black women in rap music, which led to Don Imus being terminated? Really? At least 80% of rap/hip-hop is purchased by Whites, but now that Don Imus is temporarily out of job, it’s a problem!

But, that’s how some Whites deal with racism in the workplace—and that’s where it happened with Don Imus. Some Whites will come up with any defense, when another White person (or some other non-Black person) is accused of making racially insensitive comments, using racial epithets or engaging in discriminatory or other race-based illegal behavior.

Who can say what?

Well, there’s a recent news story in New York where several NYPD sergeants and police officers called 4 Black female cops “nappy-headed hos” and told them to “stand up hos” at the police roll call. This is after Don Imus and his crew made the comments and after the subsequent fallout. So, I ask…is there really a question as to who can say what? REALLY?

Is the issue possibly that people sometimes WANT to say racist, demeaning, degrading, and other nasty things in the workplace, simply because they CHOOSE to and not because they so-called thought it was funny? That’s how people try to get away with offensive comments. They think if they pretend it was a joke, the person the joke was on is somehow supposed to be at fault for finding no humor in the remark. It’s an old technique, but it’s still used in the workplace. “I didn’t mean it that way!” “She’s/he’s just sensitive.” “She/he can’t take a joke.”

Can anyone be that stupid? No! Most times these aren’t harmless remarks. People know exactly what they are saying. They may be shocked that a person challenges their remarks and confronts them about exactly what they meant, but the person making racist or degrading comments knows full well the intent of their remarks. But, some people in the workplace continue to pretend that the issue is just sensitive Black folks.

Who can say what? Let me break down the workplace answer for White folks…

Blacks don’t come to work just dying to deal with your race-based jokes and ignorant race-based questions and comments. We’re not chomping at the bit waiting for you to ask us about Kwanzaa, Malcolm X, the “ghetto,” single parenthood, welfare, hair texture, pig feet and “soul food,” hair grease, teen pregnancy rates, etc.

If all you can do is approach Blacks with race-based commentary, please recognize your issue. Why can’t you speak to us like the humans that we are? Why do some White coworkers have to make everything about our race? We don’t come to work for that bulls*it! And, we don’t come as the spokespersons for all Black people. We have different viewpoints and opinions.

Who can say what or ask what? Not even dealing with discriminatory actions and just speech, here are some common sense tips:

-- Don’t express extreme shock, when your Black coworkers don’t fall into your ignorant stereotypes! Don’t marvel at a Black coworker being articulate or writing well or having a college degree, etc. There is no reason for your amazement at these things!

-- Don’t force your stereotypical beliefs onto Black coworkers. Don’t automatically go for racially-loaded language—that you wouldn’t use to describe a White coworker showing the same behavior or making the same comments as Black coworkers. Don’t be in a rush to call a Black worker lazy, angry, defensive, rude, mean, stupid, etc. Blacks have not cornered the market on any of that. If you mainly use reserve your nastiest remarks for Black coworkers, you have issues.

-- Don’t sing rap or R&B songs ONLY when you are approaching a Black coworker or are working in their office. We are not going to think you are “cool” because you know the words to “Black music.” If you don’t do this to White coworkers, don’t do it to us.

--Don’t ask ignorant questions! You know what’s ignorant. Don’t pretend to be stupid. Why do you have to ask Black coworkers if their silk is real silk, if their leather is real leather, if they can get a tan, if they’ve been shot at, if they know any rappers, etc?

-- Don’t walk into an office or conference room predominated by Blacks and say that you “came to crack the whip!” And, don’t make the actual whip-cracking sound.

-- Don’t ask Black coworkers if they’ve ever seen someone get shot, killed or if they were ever caught in a drive-by shooting!

-- Don’t ask Black coworkers if they have a father. Doesn’t everyone?

-- Don’t ask Black coworkers if they “live in a nice neighborhood.” Clearly, you’d be making negative assumptions!

-- Don’t ask Black coworkers to denounce Black public figures, leaders or celebrities. We don’t have to tell you what we think about O.J. Simpson or anyone else!

-- Don’t ask Black coworkers why Blacks “can’t get over slavery.” What a dumb question. And, it’s a completely inappropriate discussion for the workplace.

The list of who go on and on! But, let’s see what you have to say. Post your comments.

What do you think about “Who Can Say What?” and what do you think is off-limits in the workplace regarding race-based conversations, etc.?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The So-Called Perils of Job-Hopping - Part II

Most of our employers have given us hire letters that state that we have “employment-at-will.” This means our employers can terminate us at any time without stating a reason. They can chuck us out into the streets, without thought of where we’ll go from there, how soon we’ll be able to find another job, how we’ll be able to maintain our home and feed our families, etc. So, let’s take a reality check. Here are a few reasons why many people leave their jobs:

· They found a better job;
· They want better pay or health insurance;
· They are relocating to another city or state;
· They want to change their career path or profession;
· They are returning to school;
· They had a child and have decided to become a stay-at-home mom or to stop working for a couple of years to be home with their child;
· They’re trying to escape a hostile and offensive work environment; or
· Death

Regardless of the reason why a person leaves employment, the result is the same. The company finds a way to get the person’s work done! I know we all like to have moments of self-importance when we convince ourselves (read: fantasize) that we’re invaluable and that no one is capable of filling our shoes at work. That’s a load of crap!

In the grand scheme of things, sorry, but you just aren’t that important!

I don’t care who you are, you can be replaced. Your replacement may not be as skilled as you—at first—but, after performing your duties for a while they may equal or even surpass your job performance. And, if your first replacement isn’t up to snuff, the company will terminate the person, transfer the person or execute some other personnel action. But, in the end, another replacement will move into your job—until someone finally gets it right or comes close enough to getting “your job” right that things can stay afloat and work can move forward.

I don’t care who you are or who you think you are! If you were to be run over by a car tomorrow morning, your coworkers would collect money to send a bouquet of flowers to your mother or to send a funeral arrangement for your casket and then they’ll be off pillaging your office for your note board, stapler, comfy swivel chair, pens and highlighters, bookshelf and other office furniture.

And, by noon, the day after your funeral, someone will officially be promoted to your position, your work will be divided up among your coworkers or a temp will be sitting at your desk performing your work. The temp might be working on a temp-to-perm basis, so they could end up with your job for good. No one will be mentioning your name within days or weeks of your death! Believe that! When’s the last time someone in your office mentioned a dead (or even retired) ex-coworker? That’s the perspective you need to keep.

Look out for your own best interests!

We essentially rent out our lives, 8 hours per day (not counting our commute time), to employers that will always find a way to make due with or without us. Always keep that in mind. You are not indispensable. In fact, if you screw up enough, your employer won’t even wait for your resignation. Your employer will fire you!

-- Employment at-will (fired without stated reason/cause)
-- Termination for cause (fired with reason—true or fabricated, lack of work/lay-offs, reorganization, etc.)
-- Constructive termination (having conditions created to force you to resign your position)

Your employer has many ways to get rid of you and will do so as needed! It’s one thing to be loyal to an employer. However, it’s another thing to be stupid. Do not sell away your precious commodity—your talent—to an undeserving employer, when there are other opportunities that you may find truly fulfilling. So, if you have the chance to move into a better job--whatever that means for you and/or your family (money, a better career path, better benefits, etc.)--get to stepping! Let the so-called job-hopping begin!

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Monday, April 23, 2007


Once you decide it's time to find a new job, you start to think about companies you want to work for (in your field, in a new field/industry, etc.) and you visit numerous companies to discuss potential employment. As you’re getting a feel for the companies (e.g., comparing benefits, etc.), you start to develop a hierarchy of which jobs you’d like to take. However, your main priority is still to find work. There's always a job you really hope you get. And, there's always a job that you're not crazy about, but it's work! Ultimately, a job just has to be a job sometimes--for many of us.

Depending on how quickly you need to find a job, you may accept a job offer from the first company to offer you employment. Let's face it...most people simply don’t have the luxury to wait to hear back from everyone they’ve interviewed with. And, that's how the confusion often gets started.

You accept a job offer from the first company to make an offer, you're working for a few months, and then you hear back from one of the other interviewers. This interviewer is calling from one of the employers that was high up on your list of desired workplaces. And, now you hear that they like you. They really like you! And, they want you. They would love to have you work for the company. On the one hand, you can be loyal to your new employer. On the other hand, you can look out for what’s best for you and your family by taking the other job. So, what do you do?

Do you stay at a job because you don't want to look like a job hopper or do you go for a career?

Do you stay at a job because you don't want to look like a job hopper or do you go for a better salary, benefits, etc.?

Many people simply don't know what to do because they don't want to be labeled as a job hopper. Early in my career, I heard about how bad it was to job hop. I've heard the excuses, like "Oh, it makes it seem like you can't commit and that you don't have loyalty to your employer," blah, blah, blah. But, I'll tell you...job hopping is one of the areas where The Black Factor is often a major player in the game. Because some White people job hop like it's going out of style!! And, I should know!

Let me go back to my experience working in Human Resources. I worked in compensation and benefits. My supervisor and I had to review qualifications and experience. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to review the qualifications of job applicants. One of my tasks was to add up relevant years of employment to determine if someone was qualified for a position.

Let me tell you, there have been many occasions when I had to skip through 3 to 4 jobs just to get a couple of years of relevant experience on a White prospective employee’s resume. I found that, just like everyone else--and contrary to the perception that Whites often give to minorities--White employees are the granddaddies of job hopping. One year at this company, two years at that company, less than a year at another company. That’s just how it goes. They followed the better opportunities until the got the job they wanted.

On the flip side, let's look at Black workers. After only working with a company for a short time, many African Americans won’t take a better job because they don’t want the appearance of job hopping on their resume. They’ve heard the line, used by some Whites, that quickly moving from one job to another demonstrates a “lack of employment stability.” That excuse can become the sole reason for denying an African American a job. So, if we’ve been in a job for 1-2 years, many of us are afraid to move on because of how this can impact our career over the long haul. The double standards of American society have inadvertently set up a situation where African Americans often won’t take a better job offer because we’re worried about what White folks will think about us and if they will use so-called job hopping against us.

I’ve had to work hard to convince Black workers to leave an employer for a better job. I’m talking about lengthy discussions on no-brainer decisions. I’ve even spoken to friends of friends, who I didn’t even know, in order to give them a pep talk on taking a better job. It’s ridiculous to think we’d let appearances paralyze our opportunities, but Black workers do this all the time. Unfortunately, it’s a double-standard that we feed into in many ways. For instance, we hold ourselves to a high standard of loyalty that is clearly not reciprocated by our employers. We choose to show love to those that don’t show love to us.

But, you can never be given back your time!

Let’s repeat that…you can never be given back your time! If you put that into perspective, all of the years you pour into a dead-end and demoralizing job, will never be given back to you. You have allowed someone to use you up without getting any real reward or the reward you received (a good salary, title, etc.), ultimately wasn’t worth the personal and/or professional sacrifices you’ve had to make along the way.

This post will be concluded tomorrow...

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

ISSUES IN THE WORKPLACE: Segregation and Classification

According to the EEOC, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is violated where employees who belong to a protected group are segregated by physically isolating them from other employees or from customer contact. In addition, employers may not assign employees according to race or color.

For example, Title VII prohibits assigning primarily African-Americans to predominantly African-American establishments or geographic areas. It is also illegal to exclude members of one group from particular positions or to group or categorize employees or jobs so that certain jobs are generally held by members of a certain protected group. Coding applications/resumes to designate an applicant's race, by either an employer or employment agency, constitutes evidence of discrimination where people of a certain race or color are excluded from employment or from certain positions.

I’ve previously written about one job I had, where the darker Black employees were assigned seating in the rear of the office. Our conference room was located near the rear of the office and we had specific printers to use (in the back). Unless we were going to an external meeting, to the rest room or were visiting another department—we were out of sight.

At another job, Black workers were routinely excluded from direct client contact. White managers, mid-level staff, and junior staff would normally attend the meetings with our government clients. After all of the strategy sessions were done, Black employees would be invited to participate—on conference calls. It got so bad, that one government contracting officer asked the President and CEO of our company where the Black employees were. She said that she and other contracting officers noticed they were only meeting White employees. She said that the government was using taxpayer funds and she expected diversity. She also said that she wanted to make sure that Black and minority workers were being assigned to work on the tasks—African American and “mainstream” assignments. The contracting officer declared an expectation that minorities not just perform administrative work, but ACTUAL PROJECT WORK.

So, my employer literally held one of her “dog and pony shows.” Except, this time, she was showing off the Black and minority workers. The CEO took these government clients around our office building—only stopping at the offices of Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian employees. This was the first time many of us were introduced to our clients. We'd never seen any of these people and our contracts had been going on for years!

Another example of segregation is that some Black employees are segregated to only work on Black projects. I had a coworker, a researcher, who was only assigned to conduct research, when the interviewees were Black. This was the tactic used by a director and a mid-level manager in another department. They refused to assign her to interview Whites, Hispanics, etc.

Another issue, at some companies, is that Black workers end up in the lowest level administrative staff positions and with the lowest salaries. This can represent a segregation and classification issue because it is not inherently plausible that only Blacks are capable of working in the lowest level jobs at a company.

What can you do?

Take a look at the positions at your job. Who is working on what? What are the titles, job levels, and classifications? If you suspect a segregation and classification issue, begin to compile documentation that can support your position. If your company distributes employees lists and other demographic charts, mark them up to reflect the issue you see. Talk to other employees to see if they also notice the issue and view it as a problem. If a group of employees want to address the issue, do so as a group. Speak to someone in HR about the issue. It’s best to go in mass regarding issues like this. But, if you have to fly solo, make sure you have all the facts and can prove your point. Build a circumstantial case that is sound and easy to understand. Gather organizational charts and anything else that will demonstrate a need for investigation and change.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Yes, I am beating the Don Imus horse to death! But, there is one more thing I have to say about the issue. We all focus on race-based discrimination, but there is also color based discrimination and prejudice. Don Imus talked about specific Black women in a vile and vicious way. And, if you look at the women on the basketball team, the color issue is very obvious to see.

I’ve heard that Don Imus one laughed, when one of his cronies said that Serena and Venus Williams should be in National Geographic. Again, look at the color issue. These darker Black women were mocked as reminiscent of some sort of jungle creatures. That’s what the fool meant! The comments made about the Rutgers basketball team were said with the same sentiment!

Don Imus and his crew didn’t attack girls that looked like Alicia Keyes. No, Don Imus and his cronies attacked specific Black women of specific complexions. They didn't attack Black celebrities that are considered to be acceptable and pretty and/or beautiful according to White standards!

Color was under attack. Color was what was ugly. Color was used by the code word “nappy-headed!” Color was used by the code word “Jiggaboo.” Color is what made these girls look “exactly like the Toronto Raptors.” This was a race and color based attack through and through! Is it any wonder that little Black girls still like to play with White dolls? Even the children get it!

Color is still a major issue in the workplace. At my job, EVERY Black woman that was ever told that she had “a bad attitude” or that she was “angry” or “defensive” or “snooty” or “moody,” etc. was a brown-skin or dark-skin woman—without exception. Every race-based issue at my job involved a White person (always a White woman) and a Black woman with “distinctly” African American features and color.

And, in every case, the prevailing White mentality was to side with the White person making the complaint. It didn’t matter that examples of the alleged negative behaviors of the Black women often couldn’t be provided or that, when they were, you never heard about the “White half” of the conversations. The White women always left out what they said and how they said it.

People need to think about something…sometimes you get a rude response from a person because you’ve been rude yourself. The person isn’t just being “angry” for the sake of being angry. If you are being demeaning, disrespectful, sarcastic, bullying, rude, etc., then you may receive an in-kind response. Some people will give back the energy they receive, regardless of color.

But, at my job, the onus for any work-related issues always fell on the darker Black women. The White women were always victims, not the instigators that the White women I WORKED WITH often were. My workplace tolerated racial intolerance, discrimination, etc. And, this mindset was manifested in the behaviors and actions of some staff. They had a license to kill or to act like they owned certain people and they ran with it!

Black women at my former company were subjected to Whites making remarks about our complexions, asking us offensive questions about our hair, and making wild accusations about our behavior—accusations that were easily attributable to their overactive and racist imaginations.

That’s the way it is in some workplaces. Race can be an issue. But, color can be another issue that we often overlook. In my case, I worked with a racist VP that was perfectly fine working with a light-skinned Black coworker and her light-skinned Black secretary, but she hated me—only after seeing me in person (She worked in another state.) A senior executive at the company told his secretary that her problem with me was “this.” When he said “this,” he ran his hand across his cheek to reference my skin tone.

The level of obvious Blackness can be a catalyst that sparks an outright or closet racist to engage in discriminatory or harassing behavior. This is just another issue for Blacks to contend with in the workplace—and in life, as Don Imus showed us all!

If you are dealing with race-based issues in the workplace, don’t forget to examine color as a potential issue in your case. If you believe color is an issue, it should be argued in your internal or external complaint.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Whites are Always Supposed to Keep Their Jobs in Race-Related Matters, huh?

This whole Don Imus issue is really interesting for me because I see a lot of parallels with the arguments being used to defend his comments and the tactics used in the workplace. But, the most interesting part for me is how feverishly some Whites are willing to defend a man, who’s admitted (for whatever reasons) that HE WAS WRONG! But, that doesn’t matter. Many Whites, and some Blacks, do not feel that Don Imus deserved the ultimate punishment—termination.

These people seem to be forgetting one major point. Don Imus was not a freelancer. Don Imus worked for someone. The “someone” was CBS and NBC. He had an employer. There are standards that govern the workplace—shock jock or not! Don Imus ultimately answered to his employers. I don't care why they finally decided to fire him. They fired him! Any anger should be directed at Don Imus, for starting the whole thing with his big mouth, and/or at his employers, for getting rid of him. You don't blame the victims. And, you don't begin to attack the culture, lifestyles, etc. of the racial group categorized with the victims--African Americans.

If you listen to some White people, who are defending Don Imus, he seems to be perceived as having some sort of God given right to employment at CBS and NBC. Some Whites are out-of-control with anger that another White man (Remember Al Campanis and Jimmy the Greek?) lost his job for criticizing Blacks. In fact, the anger is so palpable that some Imus Morning Show fans have sent hate mail and/or death threats to the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Rev. Al Sharpton has also received several serious death threats.

So, to the White people, who are sending this hate mail and these death threats, here are a few words to consider: The very fact that you can only defend Don Imus by threatening someone’s life or by sending mail as vicious and hateful as the comments that were originally made just goes to show that you are a complete and utter loser. Period! A death threat and hate mail just prove the point that Don Imus should have been fired. So, the “support” you’re showing for the man just continues to reflect badly on his already soured public image. Even Don Imus had the good sense to pretend to be contrite. But, on to another point…

I am shocked at how the White bandwagon defense of Don Imus and his crew has blossomed into a national debate on rap music! You can hardly turn on a TV program or radio program and not hear a White person, commentator, or guest continue to defend Don Imus’s comments by comparing his comments to the lyrics of rappers. In fact, a major NY publication had a 2 page spread, this weekend, containing the pictures and lyrics of some of the most offensive rappers—as far as sexually explicit lyrics, “ho” references, etc.

None of that has anything to do with 3 White men calling a group of Black students “whores,” “Jiggaboos,” and saying they looked like the men playing for the Toronto Raptors. There isn’t a single link whatsoever. Are we to believe that Don Imus and company were taking their cues from rap music because they were such devoted followers of the music? Please! For this defense to be credible, damn near every White person, that has heard any amount rap music, should be walking around calling random Black people “my ni**a!” But, they don’t because most White people realize they’ll be knocked out cold by the time the words spill from their lips!

But, it’s a rap thing, right? No, it’s not. There’s an issue of “hypocrisy,” right? Only from White people, who are always trying to hold someone to accountability—until one of their own gets caught in a race-related typhoon of controversy. Former Virginia Senator George Allen called an Indian-American “macaca” a Turkish reference to a “monkey” or a term used for those from the so-called ghetto. And, he had defenders that tried to antagonize the young man he made the vicious comment about. No White person is supposed to be liable for degrading, demeaning, marginalizing, etc. any Black person or person of color. When Whites are put in a position (read: forced into a position) where they must penalize one of their own, they will likely engage in a tit-for-tat with Blacks. That’s otherwise known as retaliation.

And, that takes us back to the workplace. The people using the rap defense and talking about Black hypocrisy are tying to hide two true issues. And, it’s the same two true issues that creep up in the workplace, whenever any racial issue crops up on the job…(drum roll)

ISSUE #1: White people don’t like to have a White person criticized by someone Black or by Blacks as a whole. I don’t care what that White person did or said, there will often be some more White people that will rally around that person. And, in the Don Imus case, he just said something about some ugly ni**ers, right? He said something vile, but rappers say the same thing, right? Rappers are the new standard for socially acceptable behavior, right?

Many White people in the workplace don’t want anyone Black saying sh*t about them or one of their own, but they feel they can say darn near anything they want about Black people, Black culture, etc.—in the workplace. No question is too offensive.

Whites will make offensive comments or ask crazy questions about Black people’s skin tone, hair texture, music, culture, food, political leaders, religious leaders, etc. And, then they will often act like the Black coworker is “sensitive” for calling them out on it!

ISSUE #2: White people don’t like to punish each other based on an incident involving a Black person. I guess it feels like being a race traitor or something. I can’t explain it. All I know is I’ve witnessed a number of incidents in the workplace that were race-related—some of which led to outside investigations and legal action.

And, in every case, not a single White person was punished by White management or ostracized by White employees for what they were known to have done to someone Black or to a group of Black employees. In fact, the Blacks became the pariahs at work and had to carry the burden of shame. And, in 3 incidents I can think of off the top of my head, the Black workers were the victims of constructive termination. They were forced to resign. Meanwhile, the Whites remained gainfully employed and some were even promoted.

So, the whole Don Imus incident is really putting a microscope to the dynamics about how people justify racially insensitive behavior and outright racist actions. A defense can be applied to any comment or action, no matter how disgusting and blatantly racist the comment or action is. Whites can criticize another White person in one breath, but—in the next breath—turn around and make the Black person or people seem to have brought the issue on themselves.

In my race-based incident at work, I was told that I was a great employee in one breath. But, when a White manager went after me, I was told her racist attack against me was wrong. But, I was also told a “business decision” was going to have to be made to decide what was best for the company. And, as an afterthought, “what is best for you.” I was told that the incident was horrible, but that “no one is going to be fired for this.” After that, I had White people coming out of the woodwork to make up lies about me to force me out of my job. It’s the piling on defense. If everyone says it, that makes it true.

I don’t care how many White people say that Don Imus should have been given leeway because he supposedly said something that is said by rappers. That does not make it true. Not today and not tomorrow. Why anyone would choose to defend Don Imus is beyond me. However, I can imagine a scenario where someone would question the penalty—his termination. But, the real argument isn’t being focused on whether or not Don Imus should have been fired. The real issue has morphed into the so-called rap music connection and into questions of why the incident was being “blown out of proportion” by Blacks.

Suddenly, Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson are the issues and not Don Imus, Brian McGuirk or Sid Rosenberg. Even reasonable White people are allowing themselves to focus on Who Can Say What? That’s the upcoming headline of national weekly news magazine. Who Can Say What? The question is asked as if there is a shred of plausibility in the argument that Don Imus could have and should have been allowed to get away with his remarks. So, let me clarify this point for anyone that still doesn’t get it…




Don Imus has bragged that he will be back bigger and better AND WITH MORE MONEY! Don’t cry for him, America!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Don Imus and the Rap Music Defense

Well, NBC and CBS actually canned Don Imus. On Wednesday night, Don Imus was fired from NBC/MSNBC and on Thursday morning, CBS followed suit.

I’m shocked AND AMAZED at the ridiculous argument being presented by many Whites…that Don Imus “only” used the same language frequently used by rappers to describe Black women, the word “ho.”

Well, that just makes it okay, huh?

Is that the best defense of Don Imus that some Whites can come up with? Well, it’s similar to the workplace tactics that some Whites use to defend other Whites that have made racist remarks or denied Blacks promotions without merit or have engaged in some other discriminatory action. It becomes a bait and switch issue. Whites in the workplace will often bait Blacks into a new “discussion”—on some topic other than race—which allows them to effectively switch from addressing race-related problems, often permanently.

So, Blacks can go into a meeting expecting to have a serious discussion about a race-related complaint they’ve made, but end up discussing or defending an entirely different issue—usually directly at them, the victim! For instance, I attended a meeting to talk about race-based discrimination and retaliation by my supervisor, only to be told that EVERY MANAGER I worked with was suddenly making complaints about my availability to support their projects. This was a total lie and everyone making the claim knew that it was. But, it was the bait and switch. I was lured into a “conversation” about a serious issue, only to have White management switch the topic and to attack me with falsehoods.

The false “rap defense” of Don Imus is ludicrous and I’m not referring to the rapper. Don Imus is now suddenly akin to members of the rap and hip hop communities? Don Imus has some of the heaviest hitters in U.S. politics appearing on or calling into his radio show.

So, my question is…when did 50 Cent sit down for a chat with a Senator or member of the House of Representatives to discuss issues that are important in America, such as the war in Iraq or healthcare or immigration?

When any reasonable person listens to the totality of comments made on the Don Imus Morning Show about the Rutgers University basketball team, it becomes quite clear that this wasn’t a “rap-related” incident. You can’t isolate one word in order to defend the entire point being made by Imus and his cronies. The point they were making was that the Black women on the Rutgers basketball team were UGLY, MAN-LIKE WHORES! Their words were easy to understand.

Don Imus, his producer, Brian McGuirk, and guest commentator and raging idiot, Sid Rosenberg, called these young women:

-- “nappy-headed hos”;
-- “hardcore hos”;
-- “Jiggaboos”; and
-- stated that the women (THE BLACK WOMEN ON THE TEAM) looked “exactly like the Toronto Raptors.”

Do you know what these comments reflected? They reflected an attack on these players simply based on the COLOR OF THEIR SKIN!

Some White people are trying to isolate the “ho” comments as a way to make a connection to rap music and hip hop culture, but this argument only goes to show how indefensible Don Imus and his team are. Don Imus and his team were talking about specific Black women—the Black young ladies playing for Rutgers.

Don Imus and his team were calling THOSE YOUNG LADIES ugly whores! They were called Jiggaboos! They might as well have been called darkies!

So, here are some questions that any White person can answer for me (post in comments section or email

1) How is it reasonable that the Black basketball players went from playing in a national championship basketball game to being called ugly whores? That is exactly what Don Imus meant, when he used the word “nappy-headed.” That was his way of calling them ugly—from the hair down! Where is the natural progression from playing in a game to being called an ugly whore? Where did the comment come from? There had to be an inherent belief that these young ladies fit that description! It was completely left-field.

2) Did you notice that all of the Black players on the team were brown-skin to dark-skin in complexion? Are you comfortable with these women being called “nappy-headed hos”?

3) Why exactly is it and was it okay for Don Imus and his team to call these women out with racially insensitive names and sexist remarks? Answer without bringing up rap music or hip hop culture!

4) Did you know that most rap and hip hop music is purchased by White youths? Well, if you don’t know, now you know! So, all of the pondering about why Blacks aren’t fired, losing recording contracts, etc. for promoting certain stereotypes, misogyny, etc. in music can be boomeranged right back to White folks. Why don’t you stop your sons and daughters from purchasing this music? The real purchasing power is coming from your people! Why not boycott the music? Don’t talk out of both sides of your neck about the horrible rap and hip hop music, all while defending a White man whose saying the same thing that many of you or your children are buying on a regular basis.

5) Did you ever stop to think about the legacy of slavery with these comments by Don Imus and company? Why not? During slavery, White men were using Black women for their sexual pleasure for hundreds of years and then had the gall to saddle us with the lasting stereotype that we are sexually promiscuous. They couldn’t keep theirs hands off of us! Do you know how many Black families can trace White blood in their heritage thanks to the rape culture of American slavery? Taken in that prism, can you get why the “nappy-headed hos” comment touched raw nerves, especially because the comments were coming from White men?

6) Is it or would it be okay for me to call your daughters, sisters, etc. “White hos”? Or, “Cracka hos”? Didn’t think so!

In an interesting note, on his radio show yesterday (his last CBS broadcast), Don Imus blasted Former Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. for not “supporting him.” According to Mr. Imus, “I received death threats for supporting his campaign.”

So, he had one Negro to call out on his farewell show. It’s all Harold Ford, Jr.’s fault. If he had just spoken up…

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Some of my Black readers may have already experienced this…

a White coworker, who you’ve never or have rarely worked with, suddenly swoops into your office and DEMANDS that you perform some task for them.

You look at the person and think to yourself, “No this b*tch or b*stard didn’t just come in here barking orders at me!”

I can remember a really funny incident, where a fresh out of college, young, White woman came into my office on her second or third day of work. I’d already been with the company for about 6 years. She had some papers in her hand as she walked into my office and told me what she “needed me to do.”

So, I just let her talk and talk and talk and talk. And, then I asked…

“Who are you?”

And, her face went blank.

I was introduced to her the day before, which she remembered, so she was pissed. But, I continued to pretend that I simply couldn’t remember her. She had no choice but to reintroduce herself. When she finished, I asked…

“And, what do you need?”

I’d already let her explain it to me at length, when she came into my office. But, I made her start again…from scratch. She was mad about repeating herself, but that was fine with me. There were quick lessons I needed to teach her about professionalism and courtesy. The next step in the lesson was informing her, “I can’t help you. That work is performed by the administrative assistant. This is how the process works. You need to see [Name] to get that paperwork started or you can pick up the paperwork yourself in the copy room over to the left. Once you get that filled out and signed by a manager, you send it over to Accounting for processing. It will not be processed today and maybe not even tomorrow. You need to discuss the timing with Accounting.”

And, I looked down and went right back to what I was doing. As far as I was concerned, she could stand there all day and all night watching me ignore her.

Why did I behave this way?

Because this little White chick (yes, that’s what I’m going to call her) thought that a Black person—senior to her—should be filling out her paperwork. She was junior to me and if anything would be filling out MY paperwork—not the other way around. I can tell you right now that NO ONE in the office told her that I did the administrative tasks for our department. Yet, she walked right past the White Administrative Assistant’s office to ask me to fill out her forms.

I can tell you what happened. When she was introduced to me, she didn’t think it was important to remember who I was and what work I performed. So, when someone pointed her over to the administrative assistant’s office, she made the wrong judgment that I was the A.A. You see, the A.A. and I sat right next to each other in interior offices. Hallways ran parallel to both of our offices. So, we were the only two employees sitting in that section. So, when the little White chick was told to see the A.A., the little White chick guessed wrong! Yes, I recreated the scene of the crime. And, I found out that she was directed to the A.A., but ended up trying to order me around. Just as an FYI, the little White chick was always extremely polite and professional with me after that time. She would knock on my door and smile and ask if I had a moment to speak to her, etc. That is professional behavior!

But, her previous behavior and attitude with me is not uncommon for some Whites in the workplace. You will have some White staff knowingly and unknowingly attempt to puff out their chests and order Black workers around. These people can be senior, counterparts or junior staff. It doesn’t matter. For some reason, when some White people have the opportunity to WORK WITH Black employees, they take it as an opportunity to BULLY or ABUSE or to be RUDE to Black employees.

So, here are some tips for dealing with someone making sudden demands of you, without your supervisor having first told you that you would be working with this individual:

Tip #1: Ask the worker to tell you who they and what department they work in! Some White people will walk into your office and start demanding you do things for them—all with the assumption that you know who they hell they are! To use some broken English, more than half the White folks acting this way at work “ain’t nobody!” And, you heard it here! If you don’t know the person from Jack, ask questions!

Tip #2: Ask the worker if they’ve spoken to your supervisor and received approval for you to work WITH THEM (not for them)! Some people will bypass a supervisor and just start barking orders. Don’t accept this. Make sure the person has followed office protocol and gotten supervisor approval.

Tip #3: Don’t believe a word they said! Ask your supervisor if the assignment/task was approved.

Tip #4: Also find out—from your supervisor—what you are SPECIFICALLY supposed to do. People will make stuff up and will ask others to do more work than they have been authorized to perform. It’s called pawning off your tasks on other staff, especially those viewed/perceived as inferior. So, always find out what you should and should not be doing, as well as what authority this individual will have over you—if any! Are you supposed to jump, when they say “Jump!”?

Just because someone approaches you with an air of authority doesn’t mean they have any authority within the company or, more importantly, OVER YOU!! Don’t assume that a person is authorized to give you orders simply because they’re White! Unfortunately, some Whites don’t like to have their authority or so-called authority or perceived authority questioned or challenged by someone Black. But, that’s their issue. So, don’t make it yours.

It’s your job to follow protocol and to know that you are performing pre-approved assignments. Don’t just go running around based on a request that your supervisor may have declined or may not know about. Ultimately, you will take the blame. Do you really think the person that demanded you to work for them will accept responsibilities for any issues that come up? Don’t assume they will.

Cover you a$%, ask questions, and get approval.

But, more importantly, demand the respect you deserve as a human being and employee. It’s always okay to tell someone that you work better, faster, and more productively—when you’re not being yelled at or demeaned. As long as you convey this message in a professional manner, how the person responds is up to them! But, you’ve stated that you won’t be bullied or degraded. You can always follow that up with a formal complaint, if you have to!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Don Imus Will Be Off the Air for 2 Weeks!

Starting April 16th, The Don Imus Morning Show will be off the air for 2 weeks. The suspension comes nearly 5 days after Don Imus, his producer, and a guest commentator made racially derogatory remarks about the nearly all Black Rutgers University basketball players. The delay in the suspension is to accommodate a prescheduled radiothon charity event on the program.

Yesterday, Rev. Al Sharpton tore Mr. Imus a new behind, when Mr. Imus appeared on Rev. Sharpton’s radio program and tried to defend his ignorant remarks. Rev. Sharpton is still seeking the ultimate penalty, termination, for Don Imus. The National Association of Black Journalists is still seeking termination, as well. In addition, sponsors and high-profile guests will be pressured by Rev. Sharpton, the NABJ, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to stop making appearances on the Don Imus Morning Show.

Former Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee (Black), a frequent guest on the radio show, will hopefully discontinue appearing on the show. But, there are many others that need to stop making appearances on the Don Imus show, including credible journalists like as Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, etc.

Boycotts are also being threatened, if Mr. Imus is not terminated.

I would urge everyone to continue to write CBS radio/WFAN, MSNBC, and the Don Imus Morning show to air their feelings and to request strict conditions and penalties (read: not tolerating this behavior in the future), should Mr. Imus continue his employment with their networks. See the links in the initial post on the Don Imus comments.

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It's Easy to Signal that Racist "Chatter" Isn't a Big Deal!

I was in a business meeting, a few years ago, where a White VP stated that she was surprised to read a recent research study that found that—more than White parents—Black parents warned their children and teenagers to stay away from drugs and alcohol and not to smoke (including warnings not to smoke marijuana). The White VP asked, “Can you believe that? I didn’t think Black parents would care. Can you believe they actually warn their kids about drugs? I didn’t think they did that in the ghetto!”

She was so shocked by the research study that her voice became shrill and more annoying than usual. She was so shocked that she couldn’t hear the absolute silence in the room. So, she continued to talk about how amazing it was that Black parents didn’t want their children using drugs.

There was senior Black and minority staff in the room making 6 figure salaries or close to 6 figure salaries. One of these Black staff was actually an executive and the boss of the VP making the remarks. I looked over at all the senior staff. I was an entry level staff person and expected they would address the VP—on the spot. They each looked at the table, while a dead silence loomed over the room. The VP continued to drone on about her surprise.

I grabbed my note pad, my pen, and walked out of the meeting, looking at my White manager and visually daring her to ask me to sit down and participate in the meeting. She was extremely uncomfortable, but didn’t say a word or make any motions. I went to my desk, where I sat unconcerned about continuing my employment.

I wasn’t reprimanded. In fact, no one made mention of what was said. Everyone pretended the comments weren’t made and the questions weren’t asked. When I tried to bring it up, someone would quickly change the subject.

And that just goes to show you how easily racist “chatter” and seemingly random comments can be ignored and brushed off—all the while showing a tolerance for such crude and ignorant behavior. The VP should have been reprimanded, if not terminated. I was working at a government contracting company. We were being paid with taxpayer money. And, that money was being used to pay an obvious racist, who went on to have numerous problems with Black and Hispanic/Latino staff. This VP sat in on norming sessions, employee by employee discussion meetings, to determine staff promotions, performance evaluations, etc. How fair was she to Black staff? You should have heard some of her comments that were passed on from staff that broke the confidentiality of these meetings. She was as racist as expected, never thinking a promotion was justified for minority staff.

Employers are rightly held to account, when they refuse to ignore the warning signs regarding racist and insensitive staff in the workplace. Only by speaking up and making complaints can we, as a race, make sure employers accept their fair share of the liability for the hostile and offensive working conditions that some Blacks are subjected to.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007


Sorry for missing a few updates last week. I’ve been interviewing and I’m starting a new job on Monday!

Anyway, I finally got a chance to catch up on the news. I heard about radio host Don Imus calling the nearly all Black Rutgers University women’s basketball players a bunch of “nappy-headed ho’s.”

For those that haven’t heard of him, Don Imus has a daily program on WFAN radio that is also broadcasted live on cable on MSNBC in the mornings. Well, that was the forum Don Imus used to make racially insulting remarks to a team of student athletes that had reached the Final Four in basketball. Not surprisingly, Don Imus waited more than 24 hours to apologize for his remarks. In addition to saying they were “nappy-headed ho’s,” Mr. Imus also called the players “rough looking girls.”

So, we have a dried-up and crusty looking White man calling beautiful young Black women ugly hos. That’s pretty much what it boils down to!!

One of the show’s producers, Bernard McGuirk, chimed in that looking at the Rutgers University players compared to the ladies on the Tennessee squad was like looking at “The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabes” a reference to the light-skin (or White) vs. dark-skin issue from Spike Lee’s Movie, School Daze (wrongly referred as Do the Right Thing on the program). Mr. McGuirk also called the young ladies, “hardcore hos.”

A guest commentator, Sid Rosenberg, said, “The more I look at Rutgers, the more they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.”

Yes, these 3 White men went to the old stereotype of Black women being ugly (according to White standards of beauty), promiscuous, and threw in the bit about us being masculine—which is commonly heard about all Black, female athletes (e.g., the Williams sisters in tennis, track and field athletes, etc.)

The National Association of Black Journalists is demanding more than the lame apology offered by Mr. Imus. They feel that, at the very least, he should reach out to personally contact the women to offer his apologies for the vicious and insulting comments. They also want Mr. Imus to be fired! MSNBC is trying to distance itself from his comments, but hasn’t taken any action against him.

In the past, it’s been reported that Mr. Imus has referred to Gwen Iffil (of the News Hour and Washington Week programs) as a “cleaning woman.” And, he also referred to a Black reporter for the NY Times as a “quota hire.”

Al Sharpton has said that if Mr. Imus is not fired by Friday the 13th, he plans to picket outside the studio headquarters. MSNBC says they are “reviewing the situation.” That simply means they want to know if there will be a public commotion about the comments or if the public will disregard the remarks. Just Blacks complaining about the comments won’t be enough. There has to be some indication of White outrage or disgust AND there has to be extensive media coverage/pressure before there is any hope that Mr. Imus will be fired. I just don’t see that outcome happening, but it’s worth a shot!!

I’ve already written to Mr. Imus and the others listed below. My question to Mr. Imus was: Don’t you have enough White “hos” to talk about? And, then I named some.

To write to the producers, anchors, and hosts of the Don Imus morning show email:

To write a general letter to MSNBC TV email:

To write to WFAN radio ( email: (Business Office)

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

LEGAL BRIEFS: Adverse Actions May Occur After the Employment Relationship Ends

In case you were wondering, it’s possible for an employer to retaliate against or to continue to retaliate against an employee after that employee has left employment with the company. It doesn’t matter if the separation of employment was voluntary or involuntary, the employee resigned vs. termination, employers can still commit post-employment retaliation.

When police officers are investigating a crime, they look to determine motive and opporutnity. Well, with post-employment retaliation the motive is clear—retaliation—it’s just the opportunity part that may take some working out or that may simply require some patience.

One common means of engaging in post-employment retaliation is for an employer to use the power of employment verification against a former employee. When a person is seeking new employment, they have to list their most recent employers on an application and on their resume. Once a potential employer calls a previous employer to verify the applicant’s information, some employers will use this opportunity to convey intentionally negative and malicious information in order to prevent an employee from getting another job. This is especially true in cases where employees may have complained of potentially illegal misconduct in the workplace.

In the decision for Robinson v. Shell Oil Company, the Supreme Court unanimously held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits respondents from retaliating against former employees as well as current employees for participating in any proceeding under Title VII or opposing any practice made unlawful by that Act, such as discrimination, retaliation, harassment, etc.

The plaintiff in Robinson alleged that his former employer gave him a negative job reference in retaliation for his having filed an EEOC charge against the company. Some courts previously had held that former employees could not challenge retaliation that occurred after their employment had ended because Title VII prohibits retaliation against "any employee." Therefore, if you’ve left employment, you are no longer considered under the definition of an employee.

However, the Supreme Court stated that coverage of post-employment retaliation is more consistent with the broader context of the statute and with the statutory purpose of maintaining unfettered access to the statute's remedial mechanisms. The Court's holding applies to each of the statutes enforced by the EEOC because of the similar language and common purpose of the anti-retaliation provisions.

Therefore, post-employment retaliation (adverse actions, etc.) can still be argued against a former employer that is reaching out to continue to harass and retaliate against a former employee. If your employer has continued to make trouble for you, after you’ve left the company, you may have additional legal arguments to make and there may be additional liability issues for your former employer.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Are You Afraid To Leave Your Job?

If you’re afraid to look for another job, you should reflect on what the real issues are that are preventing you from moving on. Once you know what the problems are, you can deal with them.

--Do you want/need to go back to school? Look for employers who offer tuition reimbursement and flexible hours. If you feel your education is insufficient and might hamper your efforts to get another job, you should enroll in classes or (at the very least) you should mention on your job interviews that you are actively seeking to improve your education. This is really important if you’re pursuing a degree that relates to the field in which you are seeking a job.

--Do you think you’d be a weak interviewee or that you won’t come across as worth hiring? Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Talk to those with intimate knowledge of your work ethic and performance and find out how you can improve. You might be surprised to learn that you have a better reputation than you imagine. Sometimes we take on people’s criticisms about ourselves and are overly critical of our actual job performance. I once worked with someone who confided in me that she couldn’t get another job because she was “stupid,” which was how she was treated, spoken to, and referred to by her coworkers and superiors. Ask around! You might be more skilled than you realize and you may learn that the only stupid people are the ones who treated you so disrespectfully. You may also learn that you ARE ready for that new job and you already have great references lined up!

--Not motivated to search for a job? Think about your work-related goals and come up with a one-year plan to fulfilling those goals. Can you accomplish these things at your current job or will you just be going through the motions? A new job can help you challenge yourself to be the best you can be at the best workplace for you. Focus on how your life can improve with new employment.

--Are you afraid you won’t fit in at a new company? What personality traits make you question your ability to get along with coworkers and supervisors? Take a look at how you can improve the way you communicate, verbally and in writing. Many problems at work are personality-related and not work-related. But, you can only be responsible for yourself. Work on being a person that treats others with respect, focus on and meet deadlines, ask questions when you’re unsure about instructions, try to get things right the first time you do them, and be proactive. You’ll be surprised how well you’ll get along with reasonable and sane coworkers. I can’t vouch for the others.

--Think you’re too old? Yes, some companies may look for employees who are fresh out of college. They want staff they can work to death and who will be worked to death on the cheap. They want people they can underpay, who won’t complain about a low salary. When you’re looking for a job, you should focus on selling your expertise and your extensive knowledge of systems and processes that relate to your job. Don’t forget, you’ve made many contacts over the years. That gives you an advantage over the kids because of your experience AND your ability to network and bring work (read: money) into the company. If you’re not in a so-called “highly skilled position,” a position that doesn’t require a degree or special training and doesn’t allow you client contact or the ability to generate new business, sell the fact that you know how to get things done.

One of the most recent issues in the current workplace is that many people have very poor writing skills and many people don’t know how to type, especially with speed and accuracy. Yes, this includes the newly graduating set of job competitors. If you can type for speed and accuracy and have good or excellent writing skills, make mention of that fact when seeking other employment. Have writing samples available.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Intersectional Discrimination

Intersectional Discrimination is the discrimination of a person or classification of people because they are a member of two or more protected classes. Equal employment opportunity statutes prohibit this type of discrimination. Intersectional discrimination can involve more than one EEO statute, e.g., discrimination based on age and disability, or based on sex and age, or discrimination based on race and sex, etc.

Intersectional discrimination, harassment, and retaliation were standard operating procedures at my previous job. My employer routinely discriminated against and allowed the race-based harassment of Black, female employees. In fact, my previous employer was found guilty of retaliating against a Black, female manager.

Black women were routinely subjected to race-based name-calling, which was most prominently used during performance evaluation time. It was not uncommon for Black, female employees to receive performance evaluations declaring them to be “snooty,” “mean,” “rude,” “not nice,” “angry,” “defensive,” “pissed off,” and/or “nasty.” These comments were always made by White women. These comments also violated my employer’s performance evaluation guidelines, which stated that personality-based feedback should not be the focus of performance reviews and that reviews should rely on work-related commentary. These personality-based comments (all fraudulent) were used to justify “delineated areas of concern” and were the stated reason why Black, female employees would not be promoted, would receive a poor review and low salary increase, etc. In some cases, Black, female employees were told that they would be promoted “in the next cycle,” if they could show improvement in these alleged areas of concern.

If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you! And, for the record, it is impossible to believe that EVERY Black, female employee behaves in one manner—unless you are a complete racist!

Intersectional discrimination was so rampant at this job that five Black women resigned employment within 2 months time! Interestingly, all of the resignations took place directly before or after the year-end performance evaluations. The common complaint I heard was being blamed for problems caused by White staff (usually White women) and being labeled as a sudden personality/behavioral problem.

The similar allegations against these five Black women give credibility to claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against this employer because the allegations show the mindset at the job to tolerate and, therefore, to encourage a discriminatory environment.

Here’s a tip for you to use in the workplace: Don’t be an as*hole!! One of the good things about being friendly with other staff (read: not being an a**hole) is that you can find out details from other staff regarding the types of feedback they’re getting from managers and supervisors about their performance, you can get information about their salary (and can compare that to other staff of similar education and experience), and you can find out information about other conditions of their employment.

You can use this shared information to see if there are any patterns or blueprints being used against certain staff. You should document any similarities regarding these patterns of criticism, etc. because they can be used to help prove misconduct, racism, discrimination, etc. in the workplace.

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