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!


Blogger Baby Girl said...

Well, thanks for sharing your story. New York is not any different, there are pockets in counties where race discrimination cases would not fare well. Racism is alive and well, so what? If they could really do anything there would not have been an Abraham Lincoln, a Martin Luther King or so many countless others.

Sis, you have to ignore all of the opposition. Yes, I am not just talking to you but I am preaching to myself too. I have to remember the faith that President-Elect Barack Obama had prior to the November election and take a faith pill. Everything that you have gone through has made you so much stronger and wiser. Guess what, your opposition thought you would have been long gone by now, but they really did not know you did they? So just take the faith pill and know that the minute you set your mind to fight this, it was already done. Look at the reality of it, the EEOC states double back pay, possible forward pay etc. etc. and yes every case is individual. You may even get your job back. Sometimes, we are so quick to look at how we are for lack of a better word "cursed" rather than "blessed." You are so much more successful than you can possibly imagine.

Marvin Sapp has a wonderful encouraging song to take you through this! The strides that you have faced our ancestors could not even fathom. God's gonna take you through this --- just take a deep breath! You've turned into a wonderful encourager, so many people read this blog and are releaved that they are not going crazy.

What your opposition does not want you to know is that you have moved into your purpose. You need to find employment attorneys that want you to help them and possibly be a consultant to show companies that the “scorched earth policy” is not the best policy. Our best fight is that if you really see what this all has meant and you write a book, get on a radio station or just in front of more people what damage you can do to nasty corporations and aid desperate employees. Most people just do not know what to do and the employee needs a helping hand while working black. Pray for me - I'll Pray for you! It's already done - you are just a moment away from the conclusion.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really want to thank you for sharing your story. I am in a very similar situation and have religiously read this site for guidance and support. I had no idea how many people are going through the same racial issues that I've faced over a year now.

You are correct; "It's Not an Easy Process". I have 3 discrimination cases filed with EEOC. My attorney and I decided to request a right to sue on my first charge -denied a promotion based on race - after EEOC had been investigating for almost a year! We recently filed a suit in court a couple of months ago. I was livid when I saw the name of the judge who will be presiding over my of the most "redneck" judges in the state of North Carolina. I've had to take two faith pills these days and have recovered from my initial reaction which was doom and gloom. I asked myself how can I possibly win? My faith in God tells me that God himself is the most powerful judge there is. What seems impossible is always possible when you have faith in God. I know he didn't bring me this far to leave me. After a double dose of faith pills I now feel renewed and more confident than ever; God declared victory in my case long before I decided to file suit.

It is not easy at all but I will not give up. I often think of the many black people who gave up their lives for us. The courgage they displayed to "STAND" and fight against an injust system. We are blessed and whenever we become fearful or distressed we should always remember our people who suffered and died at the hands of evil racist.

Look at president elect Obama! We can only imagine what he went through during his journey to become the 1st Black president of the United States. Yet, he is so humble and never forgot where his blessings come from. We have to keep the faith and keep fighting for our rights!

God bless you! Keep on writing and fighting! You are helping so many of us.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Authortee said...

I feel your pain. Thanks for sharing. I've been through the same situation at my two previous jobs, except I was terminated. The pain I felt was so great that it was years before I could even go through the boxes of documentation I had. As a friend who was a lawyer for EEOC told me a few years ago, the EEOC really has no teeth now. It seems they only take on the really "flagrant" cases, at least here in Texas. I worked for a university and was terminated two days after returning from FMLA by a new dean who was clinically paranoid. I pursued the termination through the internal grievance procedure. I took the procedure further than any other employee ever had. The burden of proof was on the university to justify the termination. Because of my documentation and a recording of a telephone call from the dean, he saw he was losing, so he walked out of the hearing shouting that he was going to "talk to people about how he was treated during the hearing" despite his being warning that he could not because it was a confidential hearing. Nonetheless, he did just that. The committee came back with a ruling of no ruling because confidentiality had been violated. ??? I found out that the committee had really ruled in my favor but that administration would not let them rule in my favor so they came up with a ruling of no ruling. I know, WTF? I requested that my grievance be taken to the next and last level of the process. So far, four years later, they have not responded to that request. My attorney friends tell me that the statute of limitations has not begun to run until the internal remedies are exhausted.

I think many of these companies rely on the fact that terminated employees don't have the money to fight them (they paper you to death) and will just go away.

Keep fighting, Sis!


6:43 PM  
Blogger S. Mary Wills said...

Thanks to all of your for writing words of encouragement.

Yes, they certainly try to paper us to death because they count on the fact that we don't have the funds or have limited funds to fight against them!

I'm hanging in there. This blog has been a God-send because it's helped me to focus on doing something to start a dialogue with other Black workers and it's helped me to work towards closure with what happened.

It was healing to take the poison of that job and to do something constructive with it.

I've finished the first draft of a book and hope to have it published in 2009!

Again, thanks for writing!

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I have had many instances of racial discrimination and retaliation in Texas. The EEOC in San Antonio is weak but it is what it is. I believe in the power of God and prayer.

8:48 PM  

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