Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Reader Feedback About Complaining At Work

I received an email from a reader who's dealt with a lot of the crap some of us have been through. The email was in response to my post that warned people about employer delays that are used to prevent complaining employees from meeting deadlines to file external complaints, etc.

The reader made an excellent point about political figures shaking hands with executives. When my friend filed a complaint against our employer, the CEO told her, "Your case isn't going anywhere." Then, she proceeded to tell my friend about all of the powerful people who'd make sure nothing happened with her external complaint. This included Congressional leaders and judges. What we later realized was the the County Executive, who'd spoken at some of our employer-sponsored events, was on the Board that controlled the investigating agency in our county. That was why she was positive the case would be found to be without merit. And, while the case dragged on for a while, she turned out to be wrong and was found guilty.

The reader also mentioned attorneys that won't take your case and waste your time and help the company retaliate against you. This is a very important point. My friend went to a number of Black attorneys. We couldn't find anyone willing to take the case. Supposedly, our county is one of the worst in the country for filing employment discrimination (race) cases. We were told time and time again that it would be thrown out of court and wasn't worth their time. But, we also ran across a Black lawyer that we later realized had ties to our employer. And, we believe he was using stall tactics and giving bad advice to assist our employer. So, we all need to be really careful and we need to try to figure out the connections that some of the lawyers in our area may have to our employers. This is especially true if we work for a large or prominent company.

The other thing they mentioned was employees making false allegations to gain opportunities at work. I've blogged about this in the past. It was the most disheartening aspect of watching what was going on at work. I didn't belive that people we'd worked with for years (Black people) and that we'd go to lunch and dinner with would tell lies in order to advance their own careers and to get raises/bonus checks, and promotions. We saw all of this happen at my job. People that turned on my friend got paid! They were paid so well for lying that they were making the money of someone in the next pay grade or at a more senior level of their job. And, some of them laughed about it. Now, if work friends would do that...what do you think other coworkers would do or say that you aren't close to?

Anyway, I thought I'd share the reader comments:

I was so touched by your blog – "Beware of Employer Delays!" it brought back some painful memories, but also shed light on how to structure my charges to the EEOC. Mary, are employers getting information from an attorney on how to set their own employees up? If not, then how is it that all of these employer's rules for harassing their own employees are so similar?

I give my former employer an OSCAR winning performance for fabricating documents, omitting evidence, denying discrimination and conjuring up pretext for retaliation. This company was brilliant in hiring former EEOC employees. Lo and behold they probably had to hire them (for reasons related to an agreement to straighten out their discriminatory practices), but none the less I am sure they sucked them dry for any information that they could use to bolster a cases against a former or current employee who complained.

Let's face it, everything comes down to the dollar --- settlements are considered expenses to companies and just like they make cuts to clean up on the bottom line they do the same to thwart off possible lawsuits.

I would not suggest the NYS Division of Human Rights as a choice for filing a complaint unless you have no choice. I hope you do not think that this is just too farfetched, but think about this, most employers bring a lot of money into counties jobs etc. Whenever a new company opens up in a community you have a bunch of political figures cutting ribbons with their executives and shaking hands. What are they really shaking hands about? I found out in one county in Florida that "a period of 1 month between the protected activity and the adverse employment action qualifies as "close temporal proximity," however a 3 month lapse does not." Any genius would simply retaliate outside of that window in order to undermine the court system.

The company that I worked for also had a reputation of fighting former employees tooth and nail on their unemployment benefit status. So many employees were labeled under the term "gross misconduct" and a lot of the evidence was trumped up if not false allegations in order to deter the employee. Honestly, I would not put it past Administrative Law Judges in the Unemployment Insurance benefits area to side with companies over employees. Afterall, who would ever suspect that your neighbor was the HR representative at a large company.

The 24 hour hotline was used by the employer to weed out complainers. They would give the information from some out-sourced 24 hour hotline to the respective area and their job was to figure out who the complainer was. Once they knew who they were they slowly began their strategy of derailing their employment. Most companies will keep a file on their targeted employees.

There are some key elements to keep in mind:

· Your company has a reputation of denying unemployment insurance claims.

· Willingness to alter, fabricate documents.

· Willingness to encourage false allegations against you for other employees seeking opportunities.

· Attorneys in your area that will not take your case or who waste your time and ultimately help your company buy time to retaliate against you.

· EEOC related complaints to the 24 hour hotline are never resolved.

· Willingness to sweep everything under the rug.

· Complaints against you are given full attention.

· Complaints that you've made always come back that there is no evidence to corroborate what you said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog. I read it religiously over the past year. Your information was very helpful in my fighting my employer.

My employer wrote me up after 8 years of service. My supervisor wanted to bring in his white friend. So he wrote a discplinary notice that was filled with lies and gossip and paid his white subordinates to swear to everything that he wrote.It was a letter so egregious that I almost walked away from the job.

I filed an internal complaint and based on your blog I did not wait for the internal investigation to be completed. Had I waited I would have exceeded the time alloted to file a formal complaint with the EEOC.

Thanks so very much!!!!

Vindicated Sister

5:00 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

I implore anyone that is having difficulty at work to check the grievance policy closely. If your rights have been violated, please go online and file your claims. If the EEOC does not try it is worth pursuing-they will not pursue it...

I have seen so many of my fellow state co-workers wait in vein for HR to do something while their right to file claims with their state. In my state, employees have three days. I know what its like to suffer trying to earn a living. I have done the research. If you need help, I am willing

1:44 PM  

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