Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Investigator Yanked!

Just a quick update on my complaint against a former employer. My investigator was just yanked from my case--at my request--after I had to complain about him to his boss. Long story short, he tried to brow beat me into settling my case for pennies and he is trying to get away with not rendering a decision in my case. If I settle, it just goes away and his job is done and there's one less case on his desk. So, I guess he figured he could bully me into doing what he wanted.

Despite his persistence, I insisted he render a decision because I could not and would not settle my case without my former employer having any accountability. I told him to make a decision one way or another. Well, that pissed the investigator off and the conversation degenerated into a shouting match.

I called the Compliance Director for the agency, who referred me to the investigator's direct supervisor. She called me and heard what I had to say. She couldn't apologize enough and immediately yanked the investigator off my case.

I will be following up the phone call with a formal written complaint against the investigator for his employee file. I would like to see action taken against him and/or for his work to be reviewed.

I have to say, I feel sorry for any vulnerable people who've had to deal with him because he is very forceful and he is a bully. I can only imagine how many minority workers, female workers, disabled workers, etc. have done what he said simply because he demanded they take certain actions and because he spoke about their cases in the most unfavorable light.

My word of caution to everyone dealing with an investigator is that you still have to stay on your toes and you still have to document everything. Don't think your work is done because your employer is being investigated. You don't know how committed anyone is to fulfilling the mission of their job, including investigators and even lawyers.

Don't just blindly put your trust and faith in any investigator. If something isn't right, complain about it. Don't be afraid to speak up. And, as always, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!

Stay strong!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ask for Specifics

One tactic employers use against complaining employees is to use blanket statements and to make really vague accusations against the person. So, they make issues sound really egregious and problematic, but they haven't given a whole lot of detail as to what really happened or what the person is being accused of.

The reason is clear--if they provide specifics, they will actually need to bring in people to cover the entirety of the lie. The bigger the lie about the employee, the more staff and departments may need to get involved to cover the story. For instance, if you've been accused of causing a deadline to be missed on a specific project, everyone (or key people) on that project would have to be told to blame you for the missed deadline. And, they all would need to give consistent reasons as to why you were the blame. This would make your employer's complaint about you legitimate. A lie with backup. But, getting that kind of cooperation and getting everyone to remember the details of the lie is problematic. Not everyone is a good liar and some people will try to embellish and oversell the lie.

That's how lies start to unravel under questioning and analysis. So, being vague is the best defense for an employer.

It's your job to ask for specifics and clarification. You should do this in writing. Any response that you can get committed in writing, any little additional detail will provide you with opportunities to show lies and contradictions to events and/or previous statements.

If you are accused of certain behaviors, ask for examples of those behaviors, ask about projects you were working on when you exhibited the behaviors, ask for details!

Even if your supervisor or employer doesn't respond, it goes a long way to showing that there really is no there "there" and that the whole thing is pretext to cover up the real motive, which you may be arguing is racially based.

Don't forget that if you don't know what went wrong, you can't fix it. That's an easy argument to use, when asking for specifics and clarification. How can you improve your performance, if you don't know what the problems are?

Ask and then document everything!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Word For the Holiday


I have to take the rest of the week off of blogging due to the holiday. So much last minute shopping to do that I couldn't possibly write a new post. I'll have a new post next Monday, December 29th! Check back then or browse the posts in the archives. There are also links to resources you may be interested in.

For those dealing with race-based issues at work, please remember not to let your harassers take everything away from you. As we head to the Christmas holiday, it's important to enjoy family and friends and not to let the distractions of work keep us isolated--even at home.

The people targeting to you will enjoy their holiday and you should do the same. Focus on the positives in your life. There's plenty of time to deal with the drama at work after the holiday.

To everyone...


Monday, December 22, 2008

Investigate the Person Targeting You!

If you are being harassed or discriminated against at work, you should do your best to find out if your harasser or tormentor has had similar encounters with other employees or if there have been other informal or formal complaints lodged against this person. If so, you should create a log that you can use to track this similar past behavior.

If a pattern of negative behavior exists, you should use this log to demonstrate that this pattern of prior bad acts have not been adequately addressed by your employer. Your employer is legally responsible to have preventative measures in place that discourage illegal misconduct at work. Similarly, your employer is legally responsible to utilize corrective measures to put a stop to anyone engaging in illegal misconduct at work.

For instance, if a manager has been on the receiving end of several complaints from minority employees, your company should conduct a thorough investigation into this manager. While the investigation is being conducted, the manager should be subjected to heightened scrutiny to make sure he/she doesn’t attempt to retaliate against his/her subordinates. And, the manager could be removed—at least temporarily—from management responsibility/maintaining a position of authority over the complaining subordinates.

If the manager is found guilty of engaging in illegal misconduct, additional corrective actions could include firing or demoting the manager, written warnings and probation, participation in diversity and/or sensitivity training classes, salary cuts, etc.

But, the first step in fighting back is finding out what your “enemy” has been up to. If your employer has received numerous complaints from a variety of minority employees about racially-based harassment by a particular supervisor, you should definitely make note of this pattern in a log. Have conversations with anyone who has had similar experiences with the individual, even if they never filed a complaint. Find out as much specific information as you can and highlight all of the similarities with your case. Be sure to note what action, if any, was taken by your employer based on a problem pattern of behavior.

This will also have an impact on your employer’s liability in your case--especially if the past bad acts go back for a significant period of time. This would show that your employer knew it had a long-term problem with this employee, but did nothing. The inaction of your employer would demonstrate a tolerance for illegal misconduct and a lack of seriousness regarding maintaining a workplace free of discrimination, harassment, etc.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Every Situation 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!!



Monday, December 15, 2008

Don't Be Surprised by Disappointments!

After being a witness to race-based retaliation and participating in the investigation that ensued AND having to file my own complaint with an outside agency, the one thing I can say really troubled me--even more than the actions of my employer--was how my coworkers behaved. This is especially true of my Black coworkers, who engaged in behavior that seemed to come right off a nighttime soap opera!

What I would say to anyone else, who is dealing with race-based issues at work, is that you should mentally prepare yourself to deal with coworkers who will truly disappoint you and let you down.

Hopefully, you'll come across people who are honest and conduct themselves with integrity. But, that isn't often the case. There are usually going to be at least one or two people who will:

--try to leverage your misery for their own person/professional gain (promotions, raises, bonuses, etc.) by making false allegations, etc. on behalf of the company;

--pretend they don't know anything about what you're complaining about because they don't want to be involved;

--say whatever the company wants them to say for fear of losing THEIR job;

--stop speaking to you or go out of their way to avoid being seen with you;

--stop inviting you to lunch with them or will stop wanting to hang out with you after work;


The list of disappointments is limitless.

All I can say is that what people did, who I was close to and who the other complaining Black worker was close to, still gets under my skin to this day.

How could they do it?

How do they sleep at night?

Are they proud of themselves?

Why do we tear each other down?

The reality is, I can only control me and the answers to those questions may not be for me to know. All I can do is be true to my personal value system and let other people be responsible for themselves.

Honestly, you often can't lecture or browbeat someone into doing the right thing and even if you could it would be tampering with a potential witness. Whatever it is they have to say might be deemed inadmissible based on pressure from the complaining employee.

So, it's up to each person to do what they have to do and to do what they can live with. It's easier to deal with this reality, if you don't set up false expectations.

Some people are going to fear for their job or are going to see a path to a career or a raise open up based on your misery. That's on them.

You must do everything you can to document your case with evidence that can stand, even without or with limited witness participation. Write everything down. Follow up with emails. Get your issues in writing. Keep a list of what happens in meetings about your issues at work. Etc. You can do things to solidify your case against your employer.

Don't let the disappointing behavior of other folks ruin your spirit or stop you from documenting your issues. Keep on keeping on. Do you!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Potentially Illegal Behavior

Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Below is an important reprint of examples of workplace situations that may indicate a race-based issue at work.

Examples include:

-- a company that doesn’t post job openings and routinely fills positions with Whites from both inside and outside the company—without African Americans and other minorities having first cracks at the job as an internal hire;

-- unequal pay for African Americans performing the same work as Whites (with similar education and work experience);

-- segregating African American employees to only work on African American projects and contracts;

-- isolating and segregating African Americans by assigning them to work only in specific locations;

-- reclassifying jobs at a lower level and assigning African Americans to perform the work;

-- routinely denying African Americans promotions;

-- laying off African American employees, while White counterparts maintain their jobs; and

-- asking potential employees to identify their race on an employment application, which might indicate that race may be a factor in hiring decisions.

Examples of harassment/a hostile work environment might include:

-- being subjected to heightened scrutiny and observation from coworkers, supervisors, etc.;

-- personal attacks based on stereotypes and racist assumptions;

-- a supervisor that regularly screams directly into the face of subordinate, in private or in front of coworkers;

-- physical threats of violence or actual physical abuse (e.g., shoving or bumping);

-- verbal abuse/put-downs, name calling or the use of racial epithets or slang;

-- job threats/intimidation;

-- intentionally malicious and false gossip;

-- stare down contests; or

-- intentional humiliation.

Examples of retaliation (for complaining of mistreatment, opposing discriminatory practices, etc.) might include:

-- stripping an employee of their staff;

-- an unjustified salary cuts;

-- the denial of standard employee benefits (e.g., use of leave, etc.);

-- a demotion;

-- a transfer to a hard-to-reach office;

-- stripping an employee of their workload/assignments; or

-- an intentionally negative and malicious performance evaluation; or

-- the denial of an anticipated promotion.

Please keep in mind that the list is not exhaustive and only represents examples of potentially illegal behavior. These are the types of incidences and situations that you should be documenting. Should you decide to make complaints, these types of situations should convey to the authority that there is a situation that demands attention and remedy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Examine Your Employer's Complaint Process

If you are fighting against race-based issues at work, one of the areas you should carefully examine is your employer's complaint process. One of the tactics employers can use against complaining employees is to make accusations that the employee didn't report mistreatment, discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. Or, they can argue that the employee didn't follow procedures and guidelines, didn't report issues to the proper authority, did not clearly indicate they thought their employment rights were being violated by specifically using words like "I'm the victim of discrimination," etc.

Many employees may already be fearful about complaining of abuses and may be hesitant to report problems to a supervisor, who may be the culprit. Employees may also not be aware of their specific employee rights, in general, or about the company's specific policies and procedures.

It's important to look at an employer's complaint policy to see if you are able to counter some of the accusations that may come from your employer about the way in which you complained of abuses. You also may be able to make the point that your employer put up obstacles to making complaints, which may suggest your employer tolerates and even encourages inappropriate and potentially illegal behavior. Do not let your employer's complaint process go unexamined.

According to the EEOC:

An employer's harassment complaint procedure should be designed to encourage victims to come forward. To that end, it should clearly explain the process and ensure that there are no unreasonable obstacles to complaints. A complaint procedure should not be rigid, since that could defeat the goal of preventing and correcting harassment. When an employee complains to management about alleged harassment, the employer is obligated to investigate the allegation regardless of whether it conforms to a particular format or is made in writing.

The complaint procedure should provide accessible points of contact for the initial complaint. A complaint process is not effective if employees are always required to complain first to their supervisors about alleged harassment, since the supervisor may be a harasser. Moreover, reasonable care in preventing and correcting harassment requires an employer to instruct all supervisors to report complaints of harassment to appropriate officials.

It is advisable for an employer to designate at least one official outside an employee's chain of command to take complaints of harassment. For example, if the employer has an office of human resources, one or more officials in that office could be authorized to take complaints. Allowing an employee to bypass his or her chain of command provides additional assurance that the complaint will be handled in an impartial manner, since an employee who reports harassment by his or her supervisor may feel that officials within the chain of command will more readily believe the supervisor's version of events.

It also is important for an employer's anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure to contain information about the time frames for filing charges of unlawful harassment with the EEOC or state fair employment practice agencies and to explain that the deadline runs from the last date of unlawful harassment, not from the date that the complaint to the employer is resolved. While a prompt complaint process should make it feasible for an employee to delay deciding whether to file a charge until the complaint to the employer is resolved, he or she is not required to do so.

Monday, December 08, 2008

It's Not An Easy Process!

I filed a complaint against a former employer with an investigatory agency in Maryland, where I worked. Years later, and now on my second investigator, my former employer is suddenly asking what it would take to settle the case before a final decision is turned in by the investigating agency.

I've made it clear to the new investigator that I believe that this is nothing but a stall tactic by the company because they'd like to push the determination back as far as possible. I'm sure they hope to push me so far back that the statute of limitations on my case runs out and I am unable to pursue legal action in court.

That is not going to happen. Regardless, I now am responsible for coming up with some monetary figure that adequately addresses the violations of federal statutes that my employer is guilty of.

It's not an easy process.

The investigating agency has caps on the monetary damages they can impose on an employer based on the county where the violations took place. So, I can pursue a settlement through that agency or I can simply go for my Right to Sue letter and seek damages in court. Even if I pursue a settlment and we fail to reach a deal, I can still go to court. So, I don't lose anything by going through with the process, except time.

The problem with going straight to court is that I worked in one of the worst counties in the country for filing a race-based case against an employer. Many of these cases are tossed out and/or employer's have a good record of victory.

So, which way do I go?

Looking at what's in front of me...I'm dealing with coming up with a settlement figure. That's not easy because the retaliation against me was based on my participation in a previous investigation by the same agency. My employer came after me for revenge--to retaliate against me for providing truthful testimony. So, nothing done to me happened in a vacuum. Everything was a direct result of my decision to be honest about race-based issues at work and retaliation against a Black manager.

That's one set of issues for a settlment figure. My employer knowingly violated statutes that prohibit retaliation against an employee for participating or testifying in an investigation of discrimination, etc.

And, then I have to deal with all the actions taken against me, such as denial of transfer, denial of promotion, etc. in order to retaliate and discriminate against me. That's another figure for the settlment.

This means scouring my logs of incidents and actions taken against me by my employer and trying to compare that to codes that establish compensatory damages for the county I worked in. What can I claim? What should I claim? What's the monetary cap? What about front pay and back pay and punitive/compensatory damages?

There are so many things to consider. Every time I think I've worked it out, something else jumps out at me.

I'm writing this because I thought I'd share a bit of the turmoil that continues, even after you've left employment due to race-based issues. There still is a great deal to wrestle with, including all of the emotional scars and any damage to your health, such as high blood pressure. More importantly, there's the investigation and/or court to deal with.

I have to remind myself, the way I remind others on this blog, that I am not alone. And, I have to continue to pursue the vindication of my employment rights. This company has to be held liable for what they've done. That is the only hope that MAYBE one day they will think twice about engaging in some of the actions they were so cavalier about in the past.

Anyway, for anyone else dealing with external complaints and/or settlment decisions and/or court...


May God bless us all--regardless of where we are in the struggle--and may He keep us strong!

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Word on Oral Warnings

According to the EEOC, an oral warning or reprimand is appropriate only if misconduct (e.g., harassment) was isolated and minor. If an employer relies on oral warnings or reprimands to correct harassment, it will have difficulty proving that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct such misconduct. (Source: www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/harassment.html)

In other words, don’t let promises from your employer, regarding someone being written up or “spoken to” about misconduct guide your decisions as to whether or not your employer is providing ample protections for you under the law. If you have been the victim of substantial and pervasive misconduct, the punishment of the offending individual should be more significant. For instance, it may be more appropriate that the individual be demoted, transferred, etc. Only you know the severity of your situation, but you should demand whatever punishment fits the crimes committed against you.

Additionally, your employer’s response to misconduct should be immediate. If your employer does not immediately correct pervasive misconduct, they are opening themselves up to legal jeopardy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rock Bottom!

Americans have been programmed and conditioned to tolerate some of the most unbearable and unacceptable workplace conditions--from little to no health benefits, to substandard working conditions, and the acceptance of bullying, harassment, racism and discrimination as common practice.

Black workers, in particular, seem to have lost the desire, willpower, and courage to fight the systematic injustices and inequity that still plague our society. We are often slow to demand a reasonable amount of respect, instead preferring to rationalize the unacceptable behavior of others and the abuse of our rights. We are so happy that we weren’t called a “ni**er” that we will extend an olive branch for almost every other blatant disrespect and infraction of our basic human and employee rights. So, instead of continuing the struggles of the Civil Rights Era, we choose to quietly remain in jobs that:

• negatively affect our health;
• are dead-end positions with little or no opportunities to advance;
• provide lower and inequitable financial pay/reward--as compared to White counterparts; and are
• unbearable in regard to the work environment, policies, and practices.

We deal with workplace situations that are toxic and demoralizing and we sometimes withstand attacks that come from all over a company. The problem may start with one racist supervisor, but can have a Black employee up against that supervisor, HR, a director of their department, a vice president of a company, a site director, and/or a president/CEO of an organization.

It is often an emotionally overwhelming experience. However, many Black workers will keep holding on to that job with all our might. Sometimes we don't want "them" to think they've won. Sometimes we refuse to leave because we haven't done anything wrong and shouldn't have to. Sometimes we have to prove our bravery and represent our ancestors, who struggled through harder ordeals. Sometimes we're simply afraid to leave a bad job. Sometimes the economy is bad and it's not a good environment to find other work. Sometimes we simply don't want to interview again. There are many reasons people choose to stay at a job. So, we stay and take heaps of abuse and our blood pressure rises, and our attitude sours, and we're sick all the time, etc.

The reality is that sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they decide to leave a poisonous workplace!

Let me be blunt. Just as a substance abuser or alcoholic has to hit rock bottom in order to truly seek help for their problem, we as African Americans often must hit rock bottom before we will seriously consider leaving our employment at a company where racism is allowed to thrive and where active racism is harming our career and our health.

Women in bad relationships often have to hit rock bottom before they will get out. Many of us have had female friends, who complain to everyone around them about a boyfriend that’s cheating on them, beating on them, etc. These complaining women will go on and on about all of the terrible things happening to them and they’ll ask their friends what they should do. More often than not, the friends will say, “Leave the bastard!”

And, what does the woman who asked for advice normally do?”

She stays with him because she too hasn’t hit rock bottom and she thinks the relationship can be saved.

The reality is, when a woman has had enough mistreatment, she'll leave. And, that's all that can make her leave. Mom begging her to leave won't do it, sisters and brothers saying get out of the relationship won't do it, etc.

So, if you're working in a hostile and offensive environment and you're not sure whether it's time to leave or if you should stay...


Leave when you're ready to go.

Leave when you've had enough.

Leave when you've hit rock bottom.

Remember...resigning your position doesn't prevent you from vindicating your employment rights through an outside investigation or through a lawyer. However, only you can decide when it's time to go.

Just don't let that job kill you, while you're making up your mind!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Keeping It Real!

I was speaking to a young, Black male worker the other day. He said something interesting about feeling pressure from other young Black workers to not "sell out" to management and to not be an a%&-kisser! He was essentially told that he had to "keep it real" by not doing what he was told, when he was told to do it and he said that he was told not to be "too helpful" to customers and other coworkers.

I wanted to write a brief post about this because the advice he was given was...


Here are my favorite cliches and thoughts on Black workers who give advice like this...and I've met my share:

1) As my friend's dad said, DIRTY WATER SEEKS ITS OWN LEVEL!" If people are chronically in trouble because of their poor performance, they want other people to behave in the same fashion to create a new normal and to justify their own behavior;

2) MISERY LOVES COMPANY! If people are being written up by management and are being threatened with employment actions (suspension, termination, etc.), then they sometimes want company. They may want other people to be unhappy at work and they don't want to be the only one being cast out. For as much as they may talk about not caring enough about the job to be concerned about being fired, most of these people are lying! They are unhappy and under pressure and they may want others to feel the same;

3) Some people have a negative attitude about life, work, etc. Don't take on other people's "isms." You are your own person. You'll have your own experiences. If you're enjoying a job, don't let someone else convince you that you are working in a negative environment; and

4) Some Black folks are crabs in a barrel. They don't want to see someone else get ahead, especially someone they perceive as a peer. So, they want to drag that person down by tearing apart their positive attitude, destroying their work ethic and professionalism, etc. They will speak badly about a Black person that likes to work hard and is proud of the job they are doing by equating that person with a brown-nose, sell-out, butt-kisser, etc.

Don't allow someone or a group of someones to keep you in low-level and low-paying jobs. If you have ambition or if you're just someone with a naturally strong work ethic, maintain that focus. Be strong enough to not care what other folks are saying about you--WHEN IT COMES TO POSITIVE ACTIVITIES AT WORK.

Some people are natural born dream killers. Don't let them kill your dreams and ambitions. If you hope to advance, you must keep up a positive work ethic and strong job performance.

Let the haters hate on you. Who knows? You might be their manager one day!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Corroboration is Key!

If you're having race-related issues on the job, one of the main things you need to focus on is establishing corroboration of the events you are alleging are taking place on your job. What does that mean?

It means that you want to avoid a he said/she said incident on your job. So, here's what you can do:

-- Identify witnesses!

Who heard or saw an incident that you are complaining about?
Who did you report abusive behavior or harassment to?
Who did you share stories of your abuse with?

-- Provide supporting documentation and physical evidence!

Present written evidence, charts, instructions, etc. that support/corroborate your versions of events. Evidence might include timesheets, organizational or departmental charts, writtten instructions, offensive or harassing emails, malicious performance evaluations, written documentation falsely accusing you of work-related, behavioral or personality deficiencies, written statements from witnesses, etc.

-- Label your evidence in order to make sure that a 3rd party understands the relevance of each item being submitted as proof of workplace abuses!

You can’t assume that someone will look through your evidence and draw all of the proper and important conclusions that you feel support your case. Therefore, it’s important to label your evidence in way that will allow an investigator or lawyer to quickly understand why you have included each piece of evidence in your case file. An effective way to do this is to create labels that you can attach to the front or back of each item, which provides a description of the significance of the evidence.

You can label each piece of evidence with a brief statement about the relevance of the item and why the documentation is important. I recommend typing up an explanation of your evidence using the label making function of your computer software program. Then, simply print the information on a peel and stick label that can physically be attached to the front or back of your evidence.

Large shipping labels provide a substantial amount of space to make your notations. Be sure to include your name, case number (if you’ve been assigned one), and to number/catalogue each item being presented, in case your evidence becomes separated from your overall complaint.

As much as possible, include your evidence in chronological/date order, unless you feel there is another way of compiling your evidence that makes more sense. For example, you may decide that you want to group emails together, memos and other documentation in another section, etc. If your evidence is broken into sections, label your evidence appropriately.

For example, Item #1, Section A – Harassing Email or Item #1, Section B – Threats to My Job Security, Item #1, Section C – Tangible Employment Actions (Proof of Demotion Without Basis, Proof of Being Denied a Promotion for a Discriminatory Motives, etc. ). Always include the impact/relevance of the evidence on the label.

Remember, your credibility is being judged. You have to prove your case. In order to do that you must submit facts/evidence and you must show that any arguments presented by your employer are untrue, misleading or irrelevant to the issues you encountered at work.
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