Friday, October 24, 2008

Fighting Back Against False Statements

I’ve seen my fair share of false and malicious workplace statements. This includes false statements that were written by coworkers and false statements that were prepared by an employer and signed by a coworker.

Much of what is written about Black employees, when it comes to false documentation, falls into stereotyping the employee, character assassination and personality attacks, and an overreliance on blanket statements that have no supporting documentation or other evidence to back up the claims. For instance:

-- A Black employee may be labeled as a behavior problem that falls into stereotypes of African Americans (e.g., being angry, defensive or unprofessional);

-- A Black employee may be labeled as having communication issues (e.g. being rude,
negative, argumentative, hypersensitive, etc.);

-- A Black employee may be labeled as insubordinate;

-- A Black employee may be labeled as being disliked by a number of people or many
people in their office, department, team, at the company, etc.; and/or

-- A Black employee may be accused of problems they didn’t directly cause or of performance deficiencies that do not exist.

When it comes to race and racism in the workplace, many Black employees may find themselves falsely documented for any variety of reasons. Regardless of the reason for being documented by a supervisor, manager, coworker or the company—as a whole—I’d like to provide you with these tips:

1. Always be as anal as you possibly can, when reading a false statement. Analyze every word that is written. If you have been provided with a false statement, you should remember that great care has gone into preparing the document. Each word was chosen for a reason—on a conscious or subconscious level.

2. Analyze the wording in the documentation and attack, wherever you see an opening. For example, if someone writes that you “appeared” to be angry or you were “perceived” to be argumentative, demand clarification. How exactly did you appear to be angry? The perception of anger is subjective, could be seen differently on a cultural level, etc. Similarly, you should find out what made the person label you as argumentative. How did the individual define that? The person writing the documentation should specifically outline how you supposedly manifested your anger or what specific behavior demonstrated that you were being argumentative or difficult.

3. Always use direct quotes from the false statement in your response and follow the direct quotes with a hard-hitting response that shows the quote to be false. You want to attack the credibility of the person writing the statement. One of the best ways to do that is to attack their basic believability by showing their words can’t be trusted, that they are careless with their words and judgments, and that they will commit things to writing that can’t be substantiated in fact.

4. Do not allow blank statements to go without response! Ask for specifics about questionable or vague accusations—in writing. Make the individual commit to details. Always keep in mind that asking questions often forces people (even very educated people) to commit to telling even more lies. The more lies they tell, the harder it is to continue to keep the story straight. Therefore, it could become easier to refute their claims about you because they’ve strayed from their initial talking points and lies.

5. Provide written evidence that contradicts the false claims in the statement. For instance, if you’re accused of being disliked by coworkers, produce emails from coworkers thanking you for being pleasant to work with and a great team player. If you are being falsely blamed for problems on a project, even though you followed the instructions you were given, provide a copy of the instructions and show how you adhered to those procedures.

6. Point out anyone referenced in the statement, who has an axe to grind or is in some other way falsely accusing you of performance issues. Provide specifics that refute what this person is saying about you.

7. Prepare a response that refutes the false statement against you line-by-line. It is much more powerful to attack your attacker following their warped logic and lies. This also allows a third party to essentially hold the two pieces of documentation (the false statement and your response) side-by-by and to make a judgment on the credibility of the arguments.

8. If you haven’t already done so, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING from the moment you realize you’ve become a target. If someone is willing to put lies to paper and to place an employer at risk, by engaging in illegal behavior, they will likely not let up until they succeed at their goal (forcing you to resign, getting you fired or demoted, etc.) Once it’s been established that you are a target, start thinking of covering your butt and saving all the evidence you need to seek an internal or external remedy to your problems.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might not be appropriate, but I am white and I found this blog "Fighting Back Against False Statements" very informative. It really is a cross racial, informative, intelligent thought. It actually pertains to any victim of false statments. False statements in the workplace should never go hand in hand.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this blog. i am black and i am currently dealing with management at my work place writting false documents about me. i was recently terminated from my place of employment. i have never been written up in the past. overall i feel i was not apart of the circle or i did not fit the mould. this may have untimately lead to my termination. unfortunately, the document they use to fire me was full of assuptions and not facts. since you work in human resources will you offer any advice on how to go about fighting these false allegations?

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I says a lot that there is a website devoted to making excuses for black behavior issues in the workplace. While you are on company time set your "cultural differences " aside or quit,

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quit making excuses for animalistic impulsive behavior and attempt to act civilized

7:24 PM  

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