Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lessons from a Reader's Ordeal

This response was submitted on my post on supervisor harassment.

“…I have several (5 in total) charges pending with EEOC and its been well over 2 years at this point I’m just amazed...after filing my initial complaint of discrimination, all forms of retaliation was a result (threats, denial of promotion, termination and ineligibility to rehire) I think what really pisses me off although I never trusted her was that the black HR director (she's no longer in her role) went along w/the program....HR was useless the companies internal EEO process was utterly useless...when you file a internal EEO complaint, the complaint is redirected to Human Resources. Fortunately, their case is unraveling, their written responses are not adding up to the documentation I submitted. I documented everything and interesting enough this same HR director told me no amount of documentation will win over a manager. Of course all of this was reported to EEOC.”

There are some things I’d like to point out about this post:

1) Don’t assume you can trust Black employees.

More importantly, don’t assume you can always trust Black members of management or HR to prevent or end race-based problems at work. We are no different than any other race of people. Each person has their own perceptions, beliefs, motives/personal agendas, etc. It’s disheartening for Black members of management or HR to sit by silently or to work with Whites against an innocent African American employee, but that type of collusion does happen. I’ve seen it happen to a Black coworker and I’ve had it done to me.

2) “HR was useless...”

Yes, HR will often protect the harasser because protecting that person usually helps the company—as a whole. Instead of getting rid of dead weight and those placing a company in legal jeopardy, HR will sometimes take the road to denial. They will often insist nothing happened and dare you to try to prove it. Or, they will say they’ve provided a remedy and sometimes they won’t tell you what the remedy is. I was told, about a harassing supervisor, “Trust me. She got what was coming to her. I can’t tell you what happened. But, she won’t be doing that again.” Apparently, no one told my supervisor because she was doing it again. And, again…

3) “Their written responses are not adding up to the documentation I submitted.”

That is why I am always writing posts recommending people DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!! An employer can lie, but if you have instructions, memos, emails, organizational charts, promotion lists, copies of the personnel manual, etc. that contradict what they are saying, they are usually going to be toast! You have to prove your case. A big part of proving your case is proving your employer is a liar. Documentation can and DOES win the day, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Documentation can show that your employer’s legitimate and non-racially based reasons for actions taken against you are lies. Documentation can prove how things transpired at work and can clarify the chain of command. Documentation can prove that you reported abuse and mistreatment. The benefits of documentation can go on and on.

Thanks to the reader for sharing. I’d love for other readers to share what’s going on with them and any lessons for the rest of us!

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