Friday, February 29, 2008

The EEOC E-Race Initiative

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has an initiative called E-Race, which works to identify and implement new strategies that will strengthen its enforcement of Title VII and advance the statutory right to a workplace free of race and color discrimination.

Specifically, the EEOC will identify issues, criteria and barriers that contribute to race and color discrimination, explore strategies to improve the administrative processing and the litigation of race and color discrimination claims, and enhance public awareness of race and color discrimination in employment.

Why did the EEOC come up with the E-Race program? Well, according to their website:

Color discrimination in employment appears to be on the rise. In Fiscal Year 1992, EEOC received 374 charges alleging color-based discrimination. By Fiscal Year 2006, charge-filings alleging color discrimination increased to 1,241. A recent study conducted by a Vanderbilt University professor “found that those with lighter skin earn on average 8 to 15 percent more than immigrants with the darkest skin tone -- even when taking into account education and language proficiency. This trend continued even when comparing people of the same race or ethnicity.” Similarly, a 2006 University of Georgia survey revealed that a light-skinned Black male with only a Bachelor's degree and basic work experience would be preferred over a dark-skinned Black male with an MBA and past managerial positions. However, in the case of Black female applicants seeking a job, “the more qualified or experienced darker-skinned woman got it, but if the qualifications were identical, the lighter-skinned woman was preferred."

New forms of discrimination are emerging. With a growing number of interracial marriages and families and increased immigration, racial demographics of the workforce have changed and the issue of race discrimination in America is multi-dimensional. Over the years, EEOC has received an increasing number of race and color discrimination charges that allege multiple or intersecting prohibited bases such as age, disability, gender, national origin, and religion.

Meanwhile, overt forms of race and color discrimination have resurfaced. In the past decade, some of the American workforce have witnessed nooses, KKK propaganda, and other racist insignia in the workplace. Racial stereotypes and cultural distortions continue to influence some decisions regarding hiring, discipline, evaluations, and advancement.

Finally, some facially neutral employment criteria are significantly disadvantaging applicants and employees on the basis of race and color. Studies reveal that some employers make selection decisions based on names, arrest and conviction records, employment and personality tests, and credit scores, all of which may disparately impact people of color. Further, an employer’s reliance on new technology in job searches, such as video resumes, could lead to intentional race or color discrimination based on appearance or a disproportionate exclusion of applicants of color who may not have access to broadband-equipped computers or video cameras.

E-Race has a specific set of goals and objectives that are outlined from 2008 through 2013. These goals include:

Improving Data Collection and Data Analysis in order to Identify, Track, Investigate and Prosecute Allegations of Discrimination;

Improving Quality and Consistency in EEOC’s Charge Processing and Litigation Program, and Improve Federal Sector Systems;

Developing Strategies, Legal Theories, and Training Modules to Address Emerging Issues of Race and Color Discrimination;

Enhancing Visibility of EEOC’s Enforcement Efforts in Eradicating Race and Color Discrimination; and

Engaging the Public, Employers, and Stakeholders to Promote Voluntary Compliance to Eradicate Race and Color Discrimination.

To find out more about E-Race, visit the EEOC web site or click one of the links below:

Sources: and and


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cracker Barrel Restaurants Argue that U.S.C. 1981 Doesn’t Recognize A Right-To-Sue on Retaliation

This is how far employers will go to protect their right to target and terminate complaining employees…

The case in question is CBOCS West Inc. v. Humphries. CBOCS West Inc. runs the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants. The case raises an issue that remains unresolved in the Civil Right Act’s (1866) nearly century and a half of history: does the Act’s first section, now codified as 42 U.S.C. 1981, guaranteeing equality in the right to make a contract, forbid reprisals against an individual who complains of discrimination against others.

Cracker Barrel Restaurants has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, in which they are essentially arguing that Federal anti-discrimination statutes do not protect employees from being fired for retaliatory purposes under U.S.C. 1981. To state this plainly, Cracker Barrel is arguing that it is not okay for an employer to fire an employee for discriminatory reasons (based on existing statutes), but that it is okay to fire an employee for complaining about the discrimination. According to the Cracker Barrel appeal, retaliation is not specifically mentioned in U.S.C. 1981.

The worker involved in the CBOCS case, Hedrick G. Humphries, is a black man who was fired from his job, allegedly as a retaliatory gesture. He filed his case under Title VII and Section 1981. His Title VII claims were dismissed for procedural reasons. So, his case became solely a Section 1981 claim.

A District Court ruled that Section 1981 does not cover retaliation claims. But, the Seventh Circuit Court disagreed, sending the case back for a trial on whether Humphries was fired because – as he claims – he had complained about the firing of a black employee who was a food server. He also had complained earlier about a supervisor’s remarks to white workers that he was there to take care of their interests.

CBOCS West Inc. appealed this case to the Supreme Court, on April 25 of last year, raising this question:

“Is a race retaliation claim cognizable under 42 USC Sec. 1981?”

The company, noting that Section 1981 does not include the word “retaliation,” argued that there is a basic difference in the concept of a firing based on retaliation and one based on discrimination. A retaliatory discharge, it said, is motivated by the worker’s complaint, not by his or her race.

If the worker had not complained, it added, there would have been no firing – whether the worker is white or black. By contrast, a discriminatory firing is based explicitly on that worker’s race; if it were not for the worker’s race, there would have been no discharge.

Cracker Barrel is arguing that Congress did not put retaliation rights in Section 198, while they had done so with other civil rights laws. In other words, Cracker Barrel says there is no right to a retaliation claim under Section 1981.

A number of Supreme Court Justices — at least a strong nucleus of a potential majority — on Wednesday showed fairly strong attachment to an idea that definitely would reduce the chances that an old civil rights law could be used to protect workers against a modern form of punishment at work. In the oral argument on CBOCS West v. Humphries (06-1431), those Justices implied that the Court could prevent claims of retaliation for complaining of workplace racial bias, under a law that dates to 1866, by simply concluding that the law gives no one the right to sue to raise such an issue. The Justices who seemed fascinated with denying a “cause of action” for retaliation under so-called “Section 1981″ said they could find nothing in that statute to permit such a lawsuit.

The Supreme Court will render a decision in this appeal by late Spring.

Stay tuned! For more details, see the links listed below.

Sources: and

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Sean Bell Murder Defense Team Uses Similar Tactics as Workplace Employers

When Sean Bell was murdered by NYPD undercover officers, I quickly wrote a post about how the smear tactics used against him, starting the day after his murder, were quite similar to tactics used by employers, when they face charges of racism against Black workers.

When I opened the newspaper this morning, I was again reminded of that connection. Here’s how the defense team characterized Sean Bell during the opening day of the trial:

-- Sean Bell wasn’t described as “inebriated” or as having had “one too many” or as having been “drunk” or as being “two sheets to the wind” or as having gotten “sh*t-faced.” No. Those expressions weren’t good enough for the defense. So, they called this dead Black man “pissy drunk.”

-- The defense wondered what kind of man held a bachelor party at a place where patrons, “watch women shake their booty and fulfill a sense of twisted sexual prowess.”

Boy! Talk about using racism and racial stereotyping to cloud the real issues that are being examined. Listening to this defense, you could mistakenly surmise that:

1) White men don’t get “pissy drunk;”
2) White men don’t drink at bachelor parties;
3) White men don’t get “pissy drunk” at bachelor parties;
4) White men don’t go to strip clubs;
5) White men don’t have bachelor parties at strip clubs;
6) White men don’t get strippers to perform for them at bachelor parties outside of strip clubs (e.g., in hotel rooms, etc.); and
7) White men, in general, don’t like to observe women in sexual situations AND they don’t like to see their “booty” or breasts, etc. (e.g., watching strippers, watching porn, etc.)

A man is being attacked for having a bachelor party that features strippers and drinks (and the prosecution says he had ONE DRINK)?! Are you kidding me?

Likewise, in the workplace, routine and normally accepted behavior is often twisted and used in a sick campaign to discredit a worker or to justify discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation against them.

That’s why this defense reminds me of workplace racism. The defense boils down to an overwhelming reliance on racial stereotyping, twisting reality, and character assassination!

I’ve said it before, when employers have a race-based issue happen with a Black worker, many times they become ultrasensitive, they stereotype the Black employee to defend themselves and justify their actions, they over-rely on character assassination, they will paint the Black employee as having brought any actions and consequences on themselves (blaming the victim), they will say there were communication problems with unintended results, they will defend the offending employee and will declare them unaccountable for any actions that resulted as a consequence of their behavior (even if it was illegal or unethical), and they will often refuse to display even the slightest bit of remorse for any loss (reputation, promotion, salary, the job itself, etc.) suffered by the Black worker.

There is no gutter many employers aren’t willing to roll in and no reality that many employers will not twist to suit their needs.

In my case, and in the case of a coworker, I was attacked for playing a radio in my office. This was done after I complained and participated in an external investigation of my employer. There wasn’t a single policy against radio playing. In fact, even executives and VPs often listed to the radio or played CDs in their offices. But, I was called out for this, as if I committed a great act of unprofessionalism or did something unethical or illegal. I wasn’t even accused of playing the radio loudly, of singing along loudly or doing anything inappropriate. The argument was that I played a radio, as if that somehow opened me up to corporate attack in some legitimate fashion.

In another attack, my employer went after me for shutting my office door. This is also normally accepted social behavior at my workplace—and was never an issue before I complained of mistreatment. However, my employer said that it showed that I was “closed off,” wasn’t manager material, “was unavailable,” and that closing my door somehow justified me being denied a promised promotion. I was told by an executive, “If you crack your door, that’s the final piece in you getting a promotion.”

A few problems for my employer, included; a previous supervisor told me that I could shut my office door, I worked with confidential salary information and always had staff trying to stare at salaries on my computer screen, I was being subjected to a hostile and offensive work environment (including being told that I was being “watched” by members of management), and White staff routinely shut their doors.

When White staff shut their doors, they were just busy or assumed to be on a conference call or tight deadline. But, I was supposed to be up to no good, even though there was never a written or unofficial policy stating that office doors had to remain open. Despite that, my employer stated they had an “open door policy,” even though everyone knows that means that staff must have access to management and not that all doors must remain open!

This is how low some employers will go to twist reality and to alter perceptions. This is how far some people will go to discredit a good employee and to protect an employee, who’s exposed the company to financial and legal jeopardy. I was attacked because of a radio and a door! I wasn’t accused of lying about my allegations. I was accused of misunderstanding the racists! I just somehow suddenly came under attack and somehow brought it on myself, even though there was no evidence of real behavior or work-related problems on my part.

When it comes to racism, this trial (like so many others) shows that racists and those that defend them seem to work from the same blueprint. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the workplace or the criminal justice system. All you have to do is:

-- Blame the victim
-- Engage in character assassination
-- Don’t accept any responsibility for your actions
-- Rely on stereotypes
-- Pander to racist impulses
-- Twist events to suit your whims
-- Warp “perceptions” into reality
-- Claim misunderstandings and miscommunication
--Turn normally accepted behavior into character defaults

Nice plan of defense, huh?

This is why many Black workers remain silent, rather than fight back against workplace racism. The attacks are often so overwhelming and so baseless that it makes fighting back seem like a useless endeavor.

But, some battles are worth waging, regardless of the outcome. Sometimes you have to throw down the gauntlet and say "enough is enough."

African Americans have a proud history of triumphing over adversities. We will not succumb to anyone's blueprint!!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

If You're a Target, Buy a Tape Recorder!

If you’ve become a target at work, it may be worthwhile to purchase a tiny tape recorder. This will allow you to record any activity, which you may need as evidence that you are being abused, threatened, harassed or retaliated against at work.

I don’t care if a tape recording isn’t always admissible in court. You can use the tape recording within your organization, to prove to higher-ups or HR that you are being subjected to abuse. You can also play the recording(s) for an attorney, during a consultation session.

Whenever possible, you should be sure to record any interactions with a person that is routinely making threats, using racial epithets, being verbally abusive, etc. You should also use the speaker setting on your office phone to play and record any nasty voicemail messages you receive from this individual or other staff. By doing so, you will have a record of harassing or discriminatory behavior being committed in the workplace.

Again, this may be the proof you need for an in-house meeting or an external investigation--if things get to that level.

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Bill O’Reilly Gives a Non-Apology Apology for “Lynching Party” Remark about Michelle Obama

Sen. Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle Obama, made recent statements saying that for the first time in her adult life she was really proud of her country. She said that for a long time she’s been frustrated by the way our country was going and that it made her feel isolated and disappointed. She said that her husband’s candidacy, and the response he’s gotten from America, has really convinced her that the country has a true hunger for change and that she isn't alone. And, this made her feel proud.

Well, all hell broke loose because the last thing a Black person can say is that they haven’t always been proud of their country. Despite the legacy of slavery and other historic injustices, continuing economic and social inequality, etc., we simply aren’t allowed to say that we aren’t always happy with the way America behaves.

In fact, this can be said of anyone of any race. Criticizing anything about America (policies, actions against other nations, internal injustices, etc.) is often twisted into an act of treason or an accusation that someone isn’t patriotic. This has become heightened because of the Bush Administration’s tactic of accusing people of being unpatriotic, of aiding and abetting terrorists for questioning Bush policies, of providing “comfort” to our enemies because of having ideas that are different than those put forth by the current administration, etc.

So, you know, Bill O’Reilly (Fox News Channel) had to try to go off on Michelle Obama. O’Reilly said, “I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down"

Some argued that Michelle Obama has a six-figure job and has done quite well for herself in America. So, they say, “How dare she say she’s suddenly really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.”

My view is this…she could be the richest person in the world, the most blessed person in the world, but that wouldn’t change the fact that she has a right to find aspects of our American society to be unfair, inequitable, unjust, frustrating, disappointing, disheartening, etc. What does her personal life, career or financial success have to do with her overall view of how America is progressing as a nation, treating its people (rich and poor alike), dividing its wealth, protecting our interests, uplifting its people, etc.? One thing has nothing to do with the other.

Let's get real. There are people who aren't proud of the Vietnam war. It doesn't mean they don't love their country and haven't been proud of other things.

I think this is a matter of fake outrage and that it's just a way for some people to try to score political points out of her remark and to use her words to tarnish her husband, a presidential candidate.

O’Reilly has taken heat for the "lynching party" comments. As a result, he's issued a non-apology type of apology stating: "I'm sorry if my statement offended anybody. That, of course, was not the intention. Context is everything." O’Reilly also said: “As you may know, I believe Mrs. Obama was only referring to politics when she said that for the first time in her adult life, she is proud of her country. Now, if you look at both of the speeches that she made -- and I have -- the context is purely political. So I defended Mrs. Obama on both radio and TV.”

The link, in the source listed below, contains access to a video of O’Reilly making his comments about Michelle Obama.

Source: Media Matters,


Friday, February 22, 2008

Try to Use Your Employer’s Policies and Procedure Against the Company

If you are a target at work, one of the things you need to do is to take a good hard look at your personnel manual. I don’t mean skim the manual. I mean read it. Look for anything in the policies and procedures that show that your supervisor, manager, HR or anyone in authority violated or side-stepped the company’s established guidelines.

Think of how you can use the company’s policies and procedures to illustrate and document how your employer was intentionally and blatantly disregarding their own written policies and practices in order to ignore your plight, disregard your requests, silence your complaint, and/or in order to create a hostile and offensive work environment for you as a means of retaliation. Here’s what I suggest you do:

-- Check the personnel manual on a semi-regular basis to see if there are any changes or updates. Your HR department is supposed to announce changes, but they don’t always do so in a timely fashion.

-- Check the sections of the personnel manual that relate to any issues you have and make sure the company is following its own policies and procedures. If decisions are made that seem to contradict the company’s policies and procedures, ask for clarification--in writing. Be clear about the contradiction to policy and ask that the procedures outlined be followed or for a full explanation about why another course of action was taken.

-- Use quotes from the personnel manual when you are emailing HR or executive staff about your complaint. This will let them know you’re familiar with the policies and procedures of the company. It tells them you know how they are supposed to be handling your case. This also lets your company know how serious you are about the issue. This awareness should encourage your employers to follow their own procedures. However, if they deviate from the procedures, they are simply providing you with documentation that is evidence of a potentially deliberate attempt to violate your employee rights and ignore your complaint.

-- If you are confused about something in the personnel manual, ask questions. Some of the information may be confusing. You have a right to ask for clarification. If you’re uncomfortable asking someone in HR for clarification, speak to someone you trust--who would know the correct answer.

-- Develop a list of any contradictions in the actions taken by your employer against you and the policies they have established. Show how you company has repeatedly gone against policy, if they have done so.

-- Make a copy of the personnel manual, at the very least copy the sections that are relevant to any issues you may have at work. You may need to compare an old version of the manual to an updated version of the manual in order to highlight changes that have been made. Some companies only have their personnel manual available online through an intranet, so you should definitely be certain to maintain a hard copy of relevant policies.

-- Always look at the sections on anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, retaliation, filing an internal complaint, promotion criteria, performance review guidelines, and addressing performance issues. These are some of the likely sections that will be relevant; especially if your company is setting you up for tangible employment actions (e.g., misrepresenting promotion criteria in order to pretend you don’t currently qualify for a promotion) or setting you up for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Here’s something to remember about written policies as you read through your personnel manual. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states:

“…there are no safe harbors for employers based on the written content of policies and procedures. Even the best policy and complaint procedure won’t alone satisfy the burden of proving reasonable care…if the employer failed to implement its process effectively.”

In other words, if your employer wasn’t taking the necessary steps to ensure that its anti-harassment polices were properly enforced, your employer can wave a hard copy of their anti-harassment policy all day and all night and it won’t do them any good. Simply having a written anti-harassment policy won’t protect them from allegations of harassment nor will it prove that your employer has not violated Federal law.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The New York Post has reported that Mayor Mike Bloomberg has said that "fraud" was behind the unofficial results of NY's Democratic primary on Super Tuesday. For those who haven't heard, approximately 80 districts in NY, including many historically Black districts, reported zero votes for Sen. Obama.

That's right. 0 votes!

Mayor Bloomberg said, "If you want to call this significant undercounting, I guess that's a euphemism for fraud."

Looks like some of Hillary's friends in NY, who are involved in politics, tried to hook her up. How would it have looked for the so-called inevitable candidate, Hillary Clinton, to have a tight race in NY or to lose the Black vote, in predominately Black districts? Well, someone made sure that didn't happen. They just made it way too obvious. Funny, though, that it took this long for the story to come out in the media.

Apparently a recount is being done, which should result in Sen. Obama getting more NY delegates.

Where are folks like NY Rep. Charles Rangel, NY Rep. Ed Towns, and NY Rep. Yvette Clarke on this? Haven't heard a word from these members of the Congressional Black Caucus about a total lack of reporting the Black vote in parts of NY.

Silence speaks volumes!

Source, The New York Post, Mike Claims Vote 'Fraud', by David Seifman, 2/2/08


Unwelcome Conduct

Sometimes we join a work environment or our work environment changes into one where people think it’s okay to make racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. remarks or jokes. In some workplaces, this is how employees get down. Staff simply don’t think twice about cracking jokes that would have them getting their a**es kicked, if they made these “jokes” anywhere outside the workplace.

The problem with being in an environment like this (or being subjected to a rogue employee who behaves this way) is that some of us aren’t comfortable confronting or challenging someone who is being offensive. Even worse than remaining silent, some of us will actually laugh along with the racist because we are shocked, afraid to speak up or don‘t want to be looked at as a so-called race-baiter. The issue may be that we don’t know what else to do except laugh along with the person or we want to fit in with certain staff or the person making the so-called joke has authority over us. Regardless of the reason, there are sometimes factors that causes some of us to play along with a racist environment or situation.

If you are dealing with a person, who has no idea of self-censorship nor an understanding of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the workplace or if you work in a work environment that tolerates or encourages this behavior, you need to make sure that there is an understanding that you find the behavior to be offensive and unwelcome.

According to the EEOC, unwelcome conduct is conduct where the alleged victim did not solicit or incite the conduct and regarded it as undesirable or offensive. When the conduct involves mistreatment or is racially derogatory in nature, unwelcomeness usually is not an issue, even when the alleged harasser and victim are of the same race. Sometimes employers argue that the conduct in question was not unwelcome because it was playful banter, and the alleged victim was an active participant. The facts in such cases require careful scrutiny to determine whether the alleged victim was, in fact, a willing participant.

In the case of Vaughn v. Pool Offshore Co., 683 F.2d 922, 924-25 (5th Cir. 1982), the court stated:

[The] trial court did not err in finding for employer where plaintiff used racial slurs along with his co-employees, other employees were subjected to the same obnoxious treatment as plaintiff, his co-workers expressed amicable feelings towards him, and plaintiff testified at trial that he did not believe that pranks against him were racially motivated or that he was singled out for abusive treatment.

The EEOC language and this legal decision show that there is a clear danger in playing along with a racist, when it comes to unwelcome conduct. Even out of fear, you should not get into the habit of laughing at any unwelcome comments or jokes or presenting yourself in any way that would make you appear to be a participant in what you may later call unwelcome conduct and conduct that made you feel like you were subjected to a hostile and offensive work environment.

I have seen people engage in race-based “play” at work. It only takes one comment to go a little bit too far before this “play” spirals dangerously out of control and presents some serious conflict or a potential legal issue in the workplace.

You shouldn’t engage in this behavior at work because it is unprofessional, above all else. Secondarily, if you should happen to go too far with a comment, you could end up written up, suspended, fired, etc. Finally, you don’t want to end up appearing to be complicit in the creation of a racially-charged work environment.

Do not be a participant in race-based joking. If you find any behavior that is offensive or unwelcome, let the person know you are offended, do not want to hear a repeat of their comments, and then document everything in writing.

If the problem or environment continues, report it. Make sure to present your log of incidences and a list of any witnesses, who can confirm that “joking” in the workplace has crossed all lines of professionalism, is offensive, and unwelcome.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Document All Threats and Abuse

When a person is targeted at work, it is often a traumatic and stressful situation. The impact of being targeted isn’t simply felt because a person is sensitive or hypersensitive, but because a big part of being a target at work involves being on the receiving end of all manner of threats and abuses.

In the initial phases of being a target, many of us go through denial. We try to talk ourselves out of realizing the severity of our situation by downplaying what is going on. After all, denial is one of the easiest ways to ensure self-preservation. If there’s no problem, there’s no issue, right?

But, there’s usually a point of no return for many targets. This is the point where a target realizes that they may have their career permanently derailed, they may lose their reputation, they may lose their workplace friends and allies, and they might even lose their job. The point of no return signals either the fight or flight response in many people.

Fighting involves speaking up about the mistreatment (to a supervisor, HR, etc.), documenting the issues/incidents of abuse, filing for an internal/external investigation, etc.

Flight involves anything from remaining silent about potentially illegal abuse (that has stopped), continuing to be abused and suffering in silence, denying the reality of abuse by pretending nothing is wrong, allowing yourself to continually be denied a promotion without basis, leaving the job and not pursuing vindication for any abuses, etc.

Regardless of the response to abuse, one thing is certain. You must document all incidents and threats—from the beginning. You must document everything even if you don’t think you will ever file a complaint. You can’t possibly know what you may or may not do in the future because circumstances could dramatically change your viewpoint. In order to keep all of your options open, you must make sure that you will have everything you would need in the future, should you file an internal or external complaint with HR, EEOC or a lawyer.

It’s important that you document all types of abuse, such as incidents that serve to threaten your job security and to intimidate you, incidents of physical or verbal violence, etc. All of these would fall under the overall heading of harassment, which creates a hostile and offensive work environment. They could also be evidence of retaliation based on the fact that you complained of abuse, if that is the case.

Keep a list of incidences. It could look something like this:

Threats to my Job Security/Intimidation

11) On 2/1/08 at 4:20 pm, the director of HR stopped me in the hallway and said, “You’d better be careful. We are starting to get the feeling that you are playing the race-card because you intend to file a civil suit. We’re not just going to sit around and watch you set us up with your race-baiting. We will not tolerate that!” My coworker, Debbie, was standing nearby and heard what she said.

2) On 2/4/08 at 11:30 am, my supervisor told me, “You’d better watch your back. Some of us don’t think you like having your job. It doesn’t look like you want to work here anymore. We can make that happen.”

3) On 2/10/08 at 3:15 pm, the director of my department told me that the department was restructuring and that all staff would have to keep a log of our work for an entire month in order to justify our positions. But, when I asked around, I found out that no one else in my department or in my group was asked to keep a log. I have been singled out to justify my employment.

Physical and Verbal Abuse

1) On 2/2/08 at 9:41 am, my supervisor called me a “Black b*tch!” because I declined to analyze research data in a manner which violates research protocol and is unethical.

2) On 2/5/08 at 11:00 am, my supervisor bumped into me in the hallway. I didn’t think anything of it, but it has now happened 4 times today. She will go out of her way to bang into me and the contact is becoming harder each time she does it.

You get the picture. It’s critical that you keep a log of everything, no matter how small you think the incident is—at the time. You may need the dates and nature of these incidents at a later time. Don’t play yourself by not having what you need, when you need it.

Document everything. Log incidents by category, if that helps. Keep a list of witnesses. Record the time of the incident, as well.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

EEOC Launches New Anti-Discrimination PSAs

The EEOC partnered with Wynton Marsalis and New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center to produce two public service announcements (PSAs) on workplace discrimination. Each of the 30-second spots aims to increase recognition and reporting of race discrimination at work by making viewers aware that it is against the law.

(Note from blogger: I think people know or highly suspect they are breaking the law, when they use race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. to discriminate against employees. Nevertheless, every bit of education helps!)

To see the PSAs, go to:

Friday, February 15, 2008

No Update Today

Sorry, readers. I'll be taking my sister to medical appointments today. I'll be back on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stripped of Assignments - Part 2

Here are the rest of the tips for how to handle being stripped of your assignments because of racial targeting, in order to subject you to a hostile work environment or to retaliate against you for complaining of abuse. This follows tips 1-6 in yesterday’s post:

7) See if you can get your hands on departmental work assignment sheets or budgets/charts for your department's projects. These budgets/charts could show the total hours of work available, per contract or client. And, they can prove that there is work for you to do. Even if you can't get your hands on a budget due to access problems, see if you can get a task assignment list. This list may contain staff names and hours per project/client.

8) Keep a copy of all your current timesheets. This is especially helpful if you have to be billable and have to charge hours to specific clients/projects on your timesheets. The breakdown of hours will make it painfully clear that you have had a dramatic change in your work load.

9) If you are asked to use your personal leave or sick leave because your company doesn’t have anything for you to do and you must be billable to a client contract, document your use of leave and document that you had an employer request to use it for that purpose. Send an email to your supervisor saying that you are being instructed to use your personal/sick leave due to a lack of work and not because you are taking leave or are ill.

10) Contact HR. Get documentation of this issue outside of your department. HR should assist your efforts, provide you with guidance/policies, and should have answers to your questions. Get everything with HR in writing. Request an initial meeting in writing and include that you have a sudden lack of work in the subject line of the email or within the body of the email. Express that it is unprecedented for you not to have assignments, if you normally have a full work load. Think of what you will need to have documented so that any third party (e.g., an outside investigating agency or lawyer) will see that you expressed the seriousness of the issue with the proper authorities at your company--in writing.

11) Get a copy of any personnel policies regarding find work and/or a lack of work. My employer added a section to the personnel manual stating that only an employee was responsible for finding work and that management was not required to provide assistance. This was, of course, after they targeted a Black supervisor by taking her work away. They changed the personnel manual to cover their a**es just in case an investigator asked why she wasn’t assisted by management in finding assignments. See if there are any written policies like this at your company.

12) Start a job search, if you feel that you will definitely be let go and this is not just a ploy to superficially threaten your job security. Get written letters of reference, while people may be willing to give you one.

13) If you are going to be laid-off, etc. get the reason for the lay-off in writing. Try to get the specifics of that employment action in writing, even if that means emailing HR staff to get them to commit something to writing that you will later need as evidence. Prepare your official response outlining the fallacies of your employer’s defense of the personnel action.

14) Contact a lawyer, EEOC, etc. regarding your situation.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Have You Been Stripped of Your Assignments?

If you’ve become a target at work and/or if you’ve complained of any sort of race-based mistreatment, you may notice that your employers have begun to “circle the wagons around you,” as higher-ups at my former place of employment used to joke.

Often, when a supervisor or a company, as a whole, want to rid themselves of a nuisance employee they will find legitimate means to accomplish the task. The legitimate reason must come across as not having any connection to race or retaliation (e.g., for complaining of mistreatment or inequities in the workplace). They need a pretext without racial overtones.

One of the best excuses, which would appear to be a legitimate issue, is for an employer to accuse a worker of not having enough work to support their position. This lack of work can be the justification for getting rid of the worker through outright firing of the worker, calling the action a “lay-off,” or calling the action a “reduction in force (RIF).” This action presents a good cover story to an external investigator or lawyer. It’s like, “No, we didn’t target her or retaliate against her. We just didn’t have anything for her to do!”

Yeah, right!

The other benefit of targeting an employee with a hostile environment, such as giving them menial tasks and stripping them of their work, is that the employee could feel completely defeated, find another job (or not), and resign. This, along with other factors, could qualify as constructive termination, where any reasonable person would feel the need to leave a job in which their mistreatment became unbearable.

I’ve had a coworker who was stripped of her work and I’ve been targeted in this fashion myself. In fact, after my sudden lack of work, I had a supervisor tell me she was scared for me because “you know how they do with lay-offs.”

Here are some tips for anyone who suddenly finds they have nothing to do and an employer breathing down their neck about their lack of work:

1) Document your sudden lack of work! Send your supervisor and the director of your department/unit regular emails documenting that you are looking for work. Yes, your employer could use the email to support their false contention that you had nothing to do and they were forced to get rid of you. But, for your sake, and for evidence to provide to an outside agency (e.g., EEOC, OHR, etc.) or a lawyer, you will need documentation that shows that you suddenly had a lack of work and that you notified your management about the issue.

2) Document your previous workload! Collect your timesheets, staff work schedules, etc. that will show that you had a steady work load prior to being targeted or filing a complaint. This will present evidence supporting your argument that after being targeted, you were punished/retaliated against by having your assignments taken away. Collect timesheets for the past couple of years, if you can. You want to show a long-term history of having work to do.

3)Document the work load of other staff! This includes documenting the work load of your supervisor’s other subordinates and documenting the work load of other staff throughout the company, who are in the same or similar jobs to the position you hold. Ask around. See if anyone else is out of work. If everyone else is working and you aren’t, it supports your case that you are being isolated and targeted for abuse.

4) Take extensive notes at departmental meetings! Many employees must attend weekly staff meetings. Work assignments are often discussed, everyone takes a turn talking about what they are doing, new or anticipated projects are described, etc. Take note of how much work is available in your department and contrast that with the fact that you are being told there’s nothing for you to work on. Take notes about what other staff say they are currently working on.

5) Request assignments at these weekly meetings to create a group of witnesses to substantiate your claims that you were actively seeking work! If you don’t have weekly meetings, ask your supervisor for work in the presence of other staff. Create a list of who was present, when you’ve requested work, and present this witness list as evidence.

6) Find your own work and document your efforts to do so! Contact managers/staff in other departments to see if they have assignments you can work on. If your supervisor, HR or anyone else with authority in the company takes you off these new assignments, you will have more evidence that there is an orchestrated effort to keep you from having work. Finding your own assignments also shows that your supervisor, etc. could have found you work…if they really wanted to do so!

If you are coming across a lot of people who have a full work load and can share work with you, that can be evidence of a wider campaign to isolate you and run you out of your job. This is especially true if these people are of the same level/classification as you.

If you are running across a network of managers claiming they don’t have any extra work in their departments, you may also be able to use this as an example of how you are being shut down on a company-wide level.

One of my coworkers could not get a single higher-up or manager at our company to respond to her requests for work because the word had been spread by HR and management that she wasn’t to receive any assistance from anywhere in the company. This lack of response was used as evidence against our employer, who was later found guilty of retaliating against her by the Office of Human Rights.

I will have more tips in tomorrow's post!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Every Hostile Work Environment is Different

We each go through our own little versions of hell, when we’re combating racism on the job. While there may be some similarities with the things we go through (e.g., being isolated from staff, being ignored, being called by racial epithets, etc.), there are so many nuances to our experiences that no two hostile work environments are really the same.

Black employees need to really become familiar with the term a “hostile work environment.” Far too often, I think we brush off a lot of the offensive behavior at work because we may not have been called a ni**er or we may not have been subjected to a noose hanging from a light fixture. But, if we are dealing with behavior that is persistent and pervasive, that makes it hard for us to do our jobs, we may need to have someone look into whether or not Federal statutes are being violated in regard to our treatment.

A hostile work environment falls under harassment in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Here’s what the EEOC has to say about it:

Harassment must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, by looking at all the circumstances and the context. Relevant factors in evaluating whether racial harassment creates a sufficiently hostile work environment may include any of the following (no single factor is determinative):

--The frequency of the discriminatory conduct;
--The severity of the conduct;
--Whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating;
--Whether it unreasonably interfered with the employee’s work performance; and
--The context in which the harassment occurred, as well as any other relevant factor.

The more severe the harassment, the less pervasive it needs to be, and vice versa. Accordingly, unless the harassment is quite severe, a single incident or isolated incidents of offensive racial conduct or remarks generally do not create an abusive working environment. But a single, extremely serious incident of harassment may be sufficient to constitute a Title VII violation, especially if the harassment is physical.

Examples of the types of single incidents that can create a hostile work environment based on race include: an actual or depicted noose or burning cross (or any other manifestation of an actual or threatened racially motivated physical assault), a favorable reference to the Ku Klux Klan, an unambiguous racial epithet such as the “N-word,” and a racial comparison to an animal.

Racial comments or other acts that are not sufficiently severe standing alone may become actionable when repeated, although there is no threshold magic number of harassing incidents giving rise to liability. Moreover, investigators must be sensitive to the possibility that comments, acts, or symbols that might seem benign to persons of the harasser’s race could nevertheless create a hostile work environment for a reasonable person in the victim’s position.

Here are a couple of examples of a hostile work environment that show the differences in abuse. It includes everything from being called a ni**er to being required to work longer hours based on stereotypes, to being subjected to racially coded remarks, being set up for failure, etc.:

Reedy, 333 F.3d at 908-09: [The] working environment of Plaintiff, Black, was so objectively abusive as to alter the conditions of his employment where, over a seven-month period coworkers called him and other Black employees “n------” on numerous occasions and threatened them with violence, and the company allowed racial slurs, pictures, and threats to linger in the men’s bathroom.

Aman, 85 F.3d at 1078-84: [A] reasonable jury could find two Black employees were subjected to racially hostile environment where managers and coworkers repeatedly made coded racial remarks, and managers required them to do menial tasks outside their job description, yelled at them, and made their jobs more difficult by withholding necessary information, refusing to deal with them, and falsely accusing them of misconduct.

Ross v. Douglas County, 234 F.3d 391, 393 & 395-97 (8th Cir. 2000): affirming verdict in favor of Black employee whose Black supervisor subjected him to racially derogatory slurs, such as the “N-word” and “black boy,” and referred to the employee’s wife, who was White, as “whitey”: “Such comments were demeaning to Ross. They could have been made to please Johnson’s white superior or they may have been intended to create a negative and distressing environment for Ross. Whatever the motive, we deem such conduct discriminatory.”

Kang v. U. Lim America, 296 F.3d 810, 817 (9th Cir. 2002): [A] hostile work environment could be found where Korean supervisor with stereotypical beliefs about the superiority of Korean workers held Korean Plaintiff to higher standards, required him to work harder for longer hours, and subjected Plaintiff to verbal and physical abuse when he failed to live up to supervisor’s expectations.

Remember, you don’t have to be called the n-word or be threatened with the KKK or nooses in order to prove a hostile work environment. The totality of your abuse will tell the story regarding whether or not you were subjected to an environment that made it difficult or impossible to successfully do your job.

This is why you must document everything happening to you. If you are being ignored (e.g., phone calls not returned, emails not returned, ignored when going to someone’s office to speak to them, etc.), document this behavior because you will need evidence of this later to prove a hostile environment.

Going by this example, you could send an email to this person (not a voicemail) stating that you’ve been leaving email and voice messages for them, but have not received an answer. Or, stating that you came to see them, spoke to them, they looked at you, and went back to their work without responding to you. Ask if you can discuss any issues to create a more positive work experience and clarify any issues. If this email is ignored, forward a copy to your supervisor and ask them to address the problem. If this is ignored, you can contact HR for assistance.

If the person ignoring you is your boss, you can follow the same steps. If they ignore you, you can go straight to that supervisor’s supervisor and/or to HR.

These are tips just for the example provided about being ignored. You get the point. Document everything!! If you’ve been called a name, you want to do the same thing. Get the racial epithet in writing. Immediately shoot off an email stating the behavior is unacceptable, hostile, and offensive. Start plugging in those words!! HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT!! OFFENSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT!!

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NY Times Article: Can't Prove Obama was a Junkie

The NY Times had an interesting article yesterday, Friends Say Drugs Played Only Bit Part for Obama, which contained this: In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana.

The article ended with this quote, from an Obama college friend, “I would never say that he was a druggie, and there were plenty there,” she said. “He was too cool for all that.”

Talk about racism!

George W. Bush was long rumored to have been more than a casual user of cocaine and had battles with alcohol, but I don’t recall any article being written that talked about interviewing more than 3 dozen people to confirm or rebut this.

Bill Clinton admitted marijuana use, but claims “I didn’t inhale.” While people laughed at this claim, I don’t recall any article being written that talked about interviewing more than 3 dozen people to confirm or rebut whether or not he inhaled.

I find the timing of this article, the day before the critical Potomac Primaries (votes in DC, MD, and VA) to be more than a coincidence. Nothing has happened in the past week to stop Sen. Obama’s momentum and, lo and behold, there’s a front page story once again connecting the Senator to drug use.

This so-called piece of investigatory journalism was even discussed on a cable news program last night. Thankfully, it was blasted as the load of crap that it is. There is no point to the article, except to admit that Obama wasn't a junkie or drug dealer.

Clearly, the NY times writer was hoping for some sort of controversial outcome with his investigation. He was looking for an explosive headline. Instead, he was left to suggest that Sen. Obama may have exaggerated his drug use. But, for what purpose? To sell books? Sen. Obama published the book before he was a senator. Would dabbling in drugs really have increased sales for him?

It’s interesting that the writer did more than 3 dozen interviews to find out details about Sen. Obama’s drug use (he wrote that Obama hadn't been forthcoming with specifics about his drug use), but ended up with an article overflowing with praise for the Senator.

Here’s the link:


Friday, February 08, 2008

Be Careful Making Assumptions About Coworkers

If you're the victim of racial discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation at work, you should be careful about making assumptions about the trustworthiness of your coworkers. Don't assume that you can or can't trust someone based on their race/color, speech/behavior, level of afrocentricity or any other superficial factors. People have all sorts of reasons for engaging in certain actions and these motivations may supercede any of the other factors. That's why you need to be really careful, when sharing your issues in the workplace and details about your next steps.

For instance, I had Black coworkers who loved to talk about "keeping it real" and being outspoken. They also loved talk about "those White people" being this, that or the other. But, as soon as their Black manager and close coworker got into trouble, they all pretended not to have seen or heard anything that supported her statements. They were all show and no blow. She was left to fend for herself by the so-call "real" ones. Some of these same folks ended up making false claims against her at the prompting of their White director and other higher-ups at the company.

I've seen how lunch buddies and after work hang out buddies can suddenly be swamped with meetings and conflicting appointments, as soon as they realized that another Black coworker was dealing with race-based issues. Their only concern was putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the target of the attacks. They too knew nothing about anything--even when they were witnesses. They too began to whisper about confidential information they were told about by the victim of abuse.

I had a Black manager, who collected afrocentric plates, pictures, books, etc. (and displayed them all over her office), who would dime a Black suborindate out in a heartbeat. To ease her conscience, she would feed the Black worker bits and pieces of information, but would go right back to working in the company's interest of getting rid of the offending employee. Specifically, she would encourage the victim to "find another job because it's just not worth it." I always wondered what reward she got for towing the company line.

My point is, you have to be very careful about revealing your innermost thoughts and details of your intentions, if you've become a target of any kind at work. Lots of people talk a good game, lots of people are fairweather friends, and lots of people have a secret agenda (getting in good with management, getting a bonus or financial reward, getting a promotion, etc.).

Don't talk about looking for a lawyer, obtaining a lawyer, filing a complaint (internally or externally) or providing any information, which would increase the likelihood of you becoming a bigger target at work.

I've watched Black coworkers, I've known for years, laugh about getting out-of-cycle pay increases and/or bonuses and saying they know they got it for their stance against a Black coworker. To see how they could take joy in falsely contributing to someone else's misery was one of the biggest shocks of my life. I knew people behaved that way, but I'd always hoped that no one in my inner circle could possible engage in such behavior AND enjoy it. But, you never really know a person. You can never bet your life that someone will be truthful or have your back.

Don't make judgements based on a person's color (e.g., a darker person would "get it" and could relate and could be trusted in a race-based crisis), speech/behavior (e.g., assuming you can or can't trust a Black coworker because you think they speak or act "White") or based on a person's level of afrocentricity (e.g., they wear an afro/braids/dreadlocs, have african artwork, calendars, etc. in their office, and/or frequently talk about issues of importance to African-Americans).

In the workplace, it's always smart to have a healthy dose of paranoia. Never forget it. Keep looking over your shoulder. Take it from a person who's had their office rummaged through by staff looking for evidence against a close friend and who's had a coworker brag about going through her supervisor's office at the end of each work day to collect evidence for the company. You never know what someone will do to get ahead.

Whenever possible, confide in friends and family outside the job.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

LEGAL BRIEFS: EEOC Settles Class Suit for Black Employees at Racially Hostile Workplace

On January 24, 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the settlement of a racial harassment lawsuit for $465,000 and significant remedial relief against Henredon Furniture Industries, Inc. on behalf of African American employees who were subjected to a persistent racially hostile work environment at a furniture plant.

According to the EEOC, from approximately 1998 through January 2006, African American employees at Henredon’s High Point manufacturing plant were subjected to racial slurs and name calling -- including the “N-word” -- as well as threats by hangman’s nooses that were displayed at the plant. The suit alleged that the harassment occurred almost daily. Henredon Furniture, a subsidiary of Furniture Brands International, operated a furniture plant in High Point, N.C., until January 2006. Furniture Brands International is America’s largest home furnishings manufacturer.

“This case is the latest indicator that racial harassment in general, and nooses in particular, remain persistent problems at some job sites nationwide,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “It’s time for corporate America to be more proactive in preventing and eliminating racist behavior in the workplace. The EEOC intends to make clear that race and color discrimination in the workplace, whether verbal or behavioral, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

In addition to the $465,000 in compensatory damages to be divided among the seven class members, the three year consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. Henredon Furniture Industries Inc., Case No. 1:06CV00744, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina), includes injunctive relief enjoining Henredon Furniture from engaging in racial harassment or retaliation; requires anti-discrimination training; requires the posting of a notice about the settlement; and requires the company to report complaints of racial harassment to the EEOC for monitoring.

EEOC Charlotte District Director Reuben Daniels, Jr. said, “This settlement should remind employers of the potentially serious consequences of failing to take effective action to prevent and remedy racial harassment. It is in the best interest of all employers to create inclusive, discrimination-free work environments in accordance with the law.”

Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the federal agency’s Charlotte District, which oversees North Carolina, Virginia, and most of South Carolina, added: “The EEOC is committed to the elimination of racial discrimination in the workplace as evidenced by the prosecution and resolution of this case, in addition to many others nationwide. We will not hesitate to take action against companies that allow employees of any race to be subjected to ongoing harassment.”

The Commission has observed a surge of racial harassment cases over the past two decades, some of which involve hangman’s nooses and verbal threats of lynching. Racial harassment charge filings with EEOC offices across the country have more than doubled from 3,075 in Fiscal Year 1991 to approximately 7,000 in FY 2007 (based on preliminary year-end data).

In addition to investigating and resolving charge filings brought to the EEOC, the agency has sued more than three dozen employers this decade in noose cases and reached several major settlements. In one recent case, the EEOC obtained more than $1 million for a black worker who was racially harassed and choked with a noose by his coworkers in a company bathroom.

On Feb. 28, 2007, Chair Earp launched the Commission’s E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at its website at



FactCheck.Org: Clinton's New Email Distorts Obama's Positions

Came across this link, while checking out Since coming to a draw with Barack Obama after Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton has put out a new email to voters, which distorts what Obama has said about his plans to deal with foreclosures, energy, etc.

I guess she needs to lie about his record, AGAIN, since she's running out of money. No wonder she wants weekly debates--she needs the free media coverage!

Anyway, check it out yourself, if you're following politics, at:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Document Efforts to Set You Up for Failure

I think many workers have experienced the angst that is associated with suspecting that you are being set up for failure by a supervisor, manager, project leader, etc. You just get the gnawing suspicion that you don't have all the resources, facts, etc. that will help make your work effort successful.

If you're the victim of race-based mistreatment, you may have an even stronger suspicion that you are being targeted at work. Often, that targeting includes being targeted to miss deadlines, make errors or to encounter many other problems at work.

For instance, a supervisor may sit on assignments and give them to a worker at the last minute--ensuring that the work will be sloppy, incomplete, and/or will be submitted after the deadline has passed. Or, a manager may not give a targeted employee all of the instructions they need to properly complete an assignment. As a result, the work may be incomplete, fraught with errors, and have many other problems.

Setting employees up for failure is a common tactic used in the workplace. Someone who is determined to discriminate against a Black employee or who is trying to create a hostile/offensive work environment for that employee may see engaging in a set up as a legitimate means of lodging complaints against the worker. Or, someone may see engaging in a set up as a good cover for retaliation against a Black worker, who has complained of race-based abuses at work.

Regardless of the cause, there are some things you can do, whenever you suspect you are being set up at work:

1) Don't remain quiet. You only increase the success level of the set up by suffering in silence!

2) Address your concerns by email--FIRST. Don't speak to the individual about the problems with the work because they will likely sell you a crock of crap that will shut you up, while enabling their plan to continue. Just drop the person a quick email reading something like, "Do you have a minute to discuss the assignment? I have some concerns about how effective I can be in completing this new assignment, since the deadline is tomorrow and there's about a week's worth of work to be done." Or, "I have concerns about completing this work because it is clearly a two-person job..." Try to arrange a meeting as quickly as possible to show you have serious concerns that you'd like to discuss ASAP!

3) Document the impact of the set up--that you are being set up for failure. For instance, you want to make sure that you are clearly expressing that it is highly unlikely you can complete whatever task you are being asked to do. For instance, you might write in an email, "...even if I worked all night, there's no way I can get this work done, since I just received it and it's due tomorrow." If you have inside information, you may want to document that in writing as well. For instance, "I'm aware that the client requested this work last month. I'm not sure why I am just getting the assignment, but the loss of time to work on the project will negatively impact the quality of the work and will likely cause me to miss the client's deadline." Show what the result of the set up is. Don't wait for the huge negative impact that will be blamed on you! If you know that you will miss a deadline, a week ahead of time, document it--a week ahead of time. Say that you can't get it done, you will make a good effort, ask for assistance, etc. Think things through and cover your a**!!

4) Document that you are ready to offer solutions. For instance, in an email stating you have concerns, you might write something like, "I believe Cristina is looking for work. Since this is clearly a two-person job, is there a possibility she can assist with the assignment?" Or, you can ask if part of the assignment can be given to junior staff, while you focus on the main pieces of work. Think of solutions that will work for your circumstances. Don't set yourself up to look like a whiner or complainer, which may be the resulting attack against you!

5) If you are told you can't have assistance or any remedy for the issue and you know you will likely fail in areas related to quality of work, deadlines, etc., speak to someone with more authority and ask for assistance.

6) Save all emails and voice mails addressing the issue. Send copies of the emails to your personal email account for safekeeping!

7) Provide updates about where you are on the task. This stops the argument that your supervisor, manager or task leader had "no idea" that you were falling behind, might miss a deadline or were having issues with the work.

8) Do the best you can on the task, but don't drive yourself crazy or into the hospital. If you are being set up, the point is that it is impossible for you to get the assignment done in the first place! Don't kill yourself. Document everything!

9) Get ready to be blamed. Keep your documentation in order. Save hard copies of everything, including instructions.

10) Get ready to defend yourself. Show that you identified issues--early on--and that you asked for assistance. Show that your requests were denied.

You can only do but so much to stop a set up. Sometimes all you can do is document it and defend against it. Be on your toes and keep writing. Just keep shooting off emails indicating the issues and offering solutions, such as requests for extensions, assistance from staff, etc. This will play in your favor, if you are written up for any performance deficiencies or if the incident creeps into your yearly review. If you can show that you did everything right and were ignored, that's going to go a long way in proving you are without fault on the issue.

If the problem continues, contact HR.

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Monday, February 04, 2008's Yes We Can Obama Video

I just saw this powerful video created by of the Black Eyed Peas for Sen. Barack Obama. This video nearly had me in tears! Talk about change inspiring people to greatness...

I wanted to share the link with anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

Ask for Timelines and Follow-up On Internal Investigations

If you've been forced to make an internal complaint about race-based misconduct at work and you've reported the issue to a supervisor/manager, a director/executive or to an HR representative, you may be asked to wait for the results of an informal or formal inquiry into your complaint.

While members of management have a legitimate need for some breathing room in order to figure out what's going on, it's up to you to make sure that any delays are not being used as a method to stop you from vindicating your rights.

Plain and simple...many employers will intentionally drag out informal and formal investigations because they (1) hope the employee will just let the issue drop; (2) are trying to determine if they are in legal or financial trouble; (3) are looking to lay the ground work for a cover-up or to set up some sort of pretext for the events that have transpired; or (4) they are trying to determine if there is a way to set up the employee for future employment actions as a way to retaliate against them for filing an informal or formal complaint or to run them out of the company.

Once you've complained of mistreatment, which may violate Federal statutes prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, it's up to you to stay on top of the investigatory process taking place at work. It's important that you ask questions and follow-up with everyone involved--in writing. Make it a habit to drop someone a quick email asking for an update on a formal or informal investigation. Avoid talking on the phone. If you do, follow up phone conversations with an email stating what was discussed, what has been promised, and indicating any next steps that were agreed to on the call.

If you have complained of abuse and someone says they have to check into it--formally--you should ask questions about the timing of the investigation and about the scope of the investigation:

(1) How long do you think your investigation will take?
(2) Who will you be speaking to? What will you be asking?
(3) Can I recommend you speak to x, y, and z? (Give names of witnesses, etc.)
(4) Can I submit evidence?
(5) Who else is involved in the investigation or any interviews?
(6) Will the findings of your investigation be submitted in writing? If not, request the result in writing. If you are given verbal results, send an email indicating what you were told.
(7) Am I able to appeal the process?
(8) How does the appeal process work? What is the timing for an appeal?

Do not allow someone to claim that they can't indicate the timing for any portion of the investigation. Everyone at work likes to use the words "estimate" and "guesstimate." Ask for someone to make an educated guess and follow-up with them as soon as you've reached that deadline. If you don't hear anything, send an email and ask what's up!

If you've complained informally and there is an informal inquiry, you should still ask how long the informal inquiry will take and what process will be used. If you are told that nothing improper was found during a review conducted within your department, take your concerns to HR or someone higher up in management. FYI, if you report potential abuse to ANYONE with authority at your company, they are legally required NOT to sit on the information. They must report it to someone with authority to check into the situation, such as another manager or executive overseeing your group/unit.

Whether your complaint is informal or formal, you have to stay on top of things, so that the company knows you are serious and so you are not subjected to extensive delays that could prevent you from filing a complaint with an external agency, such as the EEOC or the Office of Human Rights. You may have 180 days to file a complaint--from the time of the first incident. Employers know this and may work to convince you that they are investigating, but they may really be using the sytem against you!

If your employer is making delays that could prevent you from filing an external complaint, go ahead and file the complaint. You've engaged with your employer in good faith and did not receive any results in a timely fashion. You must do whatever you have to do vindicate your rights. You can't let your employer's tactics prevent you from taking action to protect your rights and to search for the truth as to whether or not Federal statutes were violated.

It's important that you always ask about the timing of internal investigations and appeals. And, you should always find out the deadlines for filing a complaint with external agencies in your area.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sen. Clinton Finally Admits She'd Garnish Wages for Mandatory/Universal Health Care Coverage

The following is an excerpt from an AP article that was posted 38 minutes ago (Sunday, Feb 3rd at 1:44 pm)

I'm posting this because it shows that Sen. Obama was right, when he said that Sen. Clint0n's universal health care plan would end up causing some Americans to be penalized because of the mandate for coverage. Sen. Obama had been repeatedly stating that the penalties under Sen. Clinton's plan would include fines, wage garnishments, etc.

Sen. Clinton would always scoff, smirk, and roll her eyes, whenever he said this. But, she's finally admitting that he is right. She would garnish the wages of Americans who do not enroll in her universal health care plan.

It took that long to get the truth from her. The entire time, she tried to make Sen. Obama appear to have such little knowledge of health care that he couldn't fathom how she could make universal health care work without garnishments. Turns out...she can't!! See below as an FYI:

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday she might be willing to have workers' wages garnisheed if they refuse to buy health insurance to achieve coverage for all Americans.

The New York senator has criticized presidential rival Barack Obama for pushing a health plan that would not require universal coverage. Clinton has not always specified the enforcement measures she would embrace, but when pressed during a television interview, she said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."

Clinton said such measures would apply only to workers who can afford health coverage but refuse to buy it, which puts undue pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms. Under her plan, she said, health care "will be affordable for everyone" because she would limit premium payments "to a low percent of your income."

NOTE FROM BLOGGER: A person living from paycheck to paycheck may not be able to afford to have "a low percent" of their income automatically deducted for health care coverage. Not that they don't want it, but you can't eat health care coverage and it doesn't buy shelter, if you can't pay your rent!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sister Still in Recovery Mode--Back Blogging on Monday

After dealing with some c0mplications, my sister is finally home from the hospital. I'm taking care of her, which leaves me zero time to blog today. I'll have a new post on Monday. Until then...


Be sure to check back next week. Sorry for the delay!
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