Friday, May 30, 2008

No Black Vote in '08

Okay, I am sick and tired of White women going off on Sen. Obama because Hillary Clinton lost the nomination. Instead of being gracious, she's been losing her mind and making references to political assassinations. A lot of what Clinton has said about Obama reminds me of the disparaging remarks and attacks that many Blacks are subjected to in the workplace. He's outperforming Sen. Clinton, but at the same time he's supposed to be unqualifed.

The Clintons have tried everything, including racial codes and pitting Democratic subgroups against each other. The Clintons spoke of a Black/Brown divide in Texas (Black vs. Hispanic) and talked about Obama being "weak" with "hardworking Americans...white Americans." She wants to divide everyone now--and win--and then worry about unifying the party later.


Sen. Clinton's female supporters (predominately White) plan to protest at the Rules and Bylaws Committee Meeting tomorrow in order to force the seating of FL and MI delegates in a way that would give Sen. Clinton the lead or a near tie with Sen. Obama. Some of these women even say they will protest at the National Convention in August--if Sen. Clinton is not the nominee.

I'm sick of listening to this crap from her White, female supporters (like Geraldine Ferraro) about Sen. Obama's candidacy making Sen. Clinton's candidacy "less special" because he is Black. I'm tired of them acting like he is robbing Sen. Clinton of something.

Forget protests! Blacks make up the most loyal Democratic voting group. I say that we should stay home in November if party insiders try to change the results of this election!

Sen. Clinton's supporters aren't the only ones with leverage! Women, Hispanics, seniors, moderates/independent voters, and so-called "hardworking...white Americans" have all flaked out and voted Republican, when the "right" GOP candidate was running. But, Blacks always vote Democrat.

If the Democratic party decides to try to ROB SEN. OBAMA, I've now decided it's a good idea to stay home in November. Many people have said they will do this and I always said it's important to vote. But, it's getting ridiculous now.

Two can play that game. You want to protest. We just won't vote. How about that?

Anyway, the No Vote in '08 blog is located at:

Check it out (there are already several posts and a poll)! Post a comment.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Read Your Personnel Manual

If you’re having issues at work, you really have to get in the habit of looking through the personnel manual. Yes, it’s boring reading. But, you never know what information is in there that can be critical to defending yourself against a coworker, supervisor or the company, as a whole. There is nothing worse, from an employer’s perspective, than to have an employee quote from the personnel manual in explaining that someone or the company is violating written policies and practices.

If you are contacting HR, you can use quotes from the personnel manual to support your position or explain how someone is violating corporate guidelines, standards of conduct, etc. If you are going through and internal investigation, you will have an understanding of the guidelines, timing, determination, appeal, etc. of the internal complaint process. If HR is aware that you have an understanding of this procedure, it makes them work harder and it makes violations of their own procedures that much harder to execute. HR will know that you are watching them, may be comparing their actions to the corporate guidelines, and that it is likely you are documenting everything!

Anytime you quote from the personnel manual, it lets HR know you’re familiar with the policies and procedures of the company. It tells them you have some idea of how things should be handled, the policies that dictate their actions/response to a situation, etc.

This also lets your company know how serious you are about your issue. This awareness should encourage your employers to follow their own written procedures. However, if they deviate from the procedures, they are simply providing you with documentation that is evidence of a potentially deliberate attempt to violate your employee rights and to ignore your complaint. Know your rights and hold your employer’s feet to the fire, when it comes to adhering to their own written policies and procedures.

Read the personnel manual and look for anything germane to your circumstances. Make copies of that section for your records or to show any additions or revisions that might be made associated with your complaint.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

LEGAL BRIEF: Decision on EEOC Case to Establish a “Timely Claim”

This post is in reference to Tademy v. Union Pacific Corp., Case No. 06-4073 (10th Cir., April 1, 2008). This case was partially about clarifying what constituted a timely complaint and determining if acts of harassment, etc. spread over many years could be considered as part of a collective act. In other words, could a recent act of harassment, etc. mean that past harassment could be considered--even if the past acts were outside the statutory time frame. Are they collective acts?

The EEOC filed a brief as amicus curiae to address the standard for establishing a timely claim involving a hostile work environment under National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101 (2002). Beginning in the mid-1990s, the plaintiff (Tademy), who is black, experienced a succession of incidents of racial hostility in the workplace. He reported these incidents, but the employer/defendant either failed to investigate or imposed ineffectual discipline on the perpetrators.

In June 2001, plaintiff filed an EEOC charge about this harassment but decided not to file suit because defendant promised to institute training on harassment. Defendant allegedly did not do so. In July 2003, the plaintiff found a hangman’s noose at his worksite. Following an investigation, defendant fired the individual who admitted placing the noose; he was, however, later reinstated.

After word of the termination got out, plaintiff began to experience hostile treatment from his coworkers. In January 2004, plaintiff filed a second EEOC charge describing the noose incident and noting that he had also reported many other racial occurrences to management. He then filed suit. The district court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of a hostile work environment. In reaching this conclusion, the court refused to consider the incidents occurring before plaintiff's first charge in 2001, holding that they were not part of the same hostile work environment.

In its amicus brief, the Commission argued that all of the alleged incidents were sufficiently related to one another in nature to constitute a single hostile work environment. The fact that different employees may have perpetrated each individual act should make no difference in determining whether a hostile work environment exists from the perspective of the victim. The Commission argued that under Morgan the plaintiff may obtain relief for the entire hostile work environment, including acts of harassment prior to his first charge, because it constituted a single violation. Even if the earlier acts of harassment were not part of the same hostile work environment, the district court should have considered them as background evidence supporting the plaintiff’s claim that he was subjected to a hostile work environment during the charge-filing period (300 days).

On appeal, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court, holding that under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the court may consider discriminatory behavior that occurred outside the 300-day statutory time period so long as one act contributing to the hostile environment occurred within the statutory time period. The Tenth Circuit also took the district court to task on the noose incident, stating it improperly adopted the coworker's explanation for the noose. Granting all inferences in favor of Tademy, the court found that in light of potential implausibilities in the coworker's story, a jury could find that the hanging of the noose stemmed from racial animus.

In essence, the Tenth Circuit’s decision states that as long as one act occurs with the statutory time period, all potentially illegal behavior can be considered as part of a collective act against a complaining employee.



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Internal/Human Resources Investigations

If you’ve filed an internal complaint at your company claiming racially-based mistreatment, you want to stay on top of any investigation that your employer tells you it is conducting. Some employers will take their time conducting investigations into such matters, but you should speak with your employer regarding the timing of the investigation because it’s best for them to speak to witnesses and other coworkers, when information and events are still fresh in everyone’s head.

If you don’t hear back from your company’s lead HR investigator during the time frame outlined in corporate procedures or in some other time frame that you’ve agreed upon, you should formally follow-up with your employer to get a status update on the investigation. Make this request in writing.

If you ever have to request an internal investigation, you want to make sure everything is documented. So, don’t ever follow-up with people by phone and, if you do, follow-up with an email stating everything discussed and agreed upon on the call.

If after the HR investigation, there is a finding that no harassment, discrimination or retaliation took place and you are convinced that one or all of these offenses took place, you should begin the appeals process at your company per the guidelines outlined in the company’s personnel manual.

Only you can answer the question of whether or not you are ready to pursue a racially-based workplace complaint and whether or not the issue warrants additional review and investigation from an outside source.

If you are still unsatisfied with the findings of the in-house investigation, look into alternative methods to deal with your issues, such as filing a complaint with the EEOC or your state’s Office of Human Rights, which is part of the Human Relations Commission. If you file a complaint with the Office of Human Rights, your case will be jointly filed with the EEOC and you will also receive an EEOC case number.

To summarize, when you’re requesting an investigation you should:

--Request the investigation in writing;

--Save multiple hard copies of the request, including supporting documentation;

--Know the procedures that govern the investigation;

--Know the expected timing of the investigation;

--Present evidence strategically;

--Present a witness list;

--File an appeal, if you don’t agree with the decision;

--Find alternative resources, if your situation warrants it (e.g., outside/external
investigation, legal counsel, etc.); and

--Keep your mouth shut during the investigation—remember that you are surrounded by liars and opportunists in the workplace.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Have a Great Holiday Weekend

Heading out for the weekend. Hope everyone has a safe holiday,especially if you're traveling.

The next post will be on Tuesday. Take care!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Beware of Coworkers

If you are smack in the middle of a race-based problem at work (racially-based discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation), always be wary of probing coworkers—even those you consider to be friends.

I’ve seen first hand how coworkers/work friends can quickly turn on someone they’ve been very tight with for a number of years. There are all sorts of motivations for betrayals in the workplace, including Black on Black betrayal for the benefit of a White coworker, supervisor, manager or the company at large. The biggest mistake a Black worker can make, who’s being racially targeted, is to assume that Black workers can be absolutely trusted and that they have your best interests at heart.

Yes, there are going to be true friends in the workplace. These people aren’t work buddies. They are real friends. These people may be the type to have your back, to stick up for you, to speak out for you, etc. However, many people fear for their own careers and livelihood, when they see someone else being targeted. This is especially true in race-related incidents. Other Blacks will often feel that they might be the victim of harassment or retaliation for sticking up for a Black coworker. As a result, they may decide to support the company stance on the targeted employee. For instance, they may stop going to lunch with the target and/or may go out of their way to avoid having contact with someone they were so-called friends with.

While there may be a real friend or two at work, there are other Black workers who may not object to being used as a pawn against a Black coworker. They may do this simply to cause trouble or for reward. For instance, they may be promised a promotion, bonus, etc. for signing fraudulent documents making malicious claims against a Black coworker or they may be rewarded for their silence. My former employer began to give bonuses, special/out-of-cycle merit increases, and other awards to Black coworkers that were either silent or complicit in targeting a Black manager the company wanted to force out of the job. They all knew they were being rewarded and some bragged outright about why they were suddenly getting significant or special financial consideration. They had no shame and went along with the company through action or silence.

Because you can never tell which way someone is going to go, when a race-based bomb blows up at work, it’s best to be cautious. If you have a Black coworker suddenly and frequently asking you about what’s going on and what you plan to do about it, specifically if you’re filing an external complaint or going to a lawyer, you should be suspicious. Don’t trust anyone who always seems to be looking for information from you about your problem at work. This person may be approaching you for information at the behest of a supervisor, manager or some other member of authority.

I always say that it’s good to have a bit of paranoia at work, when a race-based problem has cropped up. While you hope your friends or other Black coworkers would be supportive and would not join efforts to harm you, you can never be sure which friends will turn out to be enemies.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prior Bad Acts

If you are being subjected to racially-based mistreatment by a supervisor, you should do your best to find out if your supervisor has had similar encounters with other minority employees. If a pattern of negative behavior exists, you may be able to assert that this PATTERN OF PRIOR BAD ACTS has not been adequately addressed by your employer and may be encouraged through silence.

For instance, if your employer has received numerous complaints from a variety of minority employers about racially-based harassment by a particular supervisor, you should definitely make note of this pattern. 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. The fact that your employer may have chosen to ignore racially-based complaints could bolster your case and demonstrate that your employer has a tolerance for racial bullying, discrimination, harassment or retaliation by those in authority.

The same would apply to a coworker, who’s demonstrated a pattern of active racially-based biases. You should document the problems and any other minority employees who’ve been victimized and attacked by this coworker. If you can find out about formal and informal/off the record complaints, this information can help establish that your employer was aware of a problem, but did not take action to remedy the issue.

If you are being subjected to racially-based mistreatment that you suspect is part of your employer’s plan to force you to resign or to set you up for disciplinary action, up to and including termination, you should try to determine if there are similar patterns of prior bad acts against other Black employees. Does your employer have a history of using the powers of the company to run out Black workers, encourage discrimination or to retaliate against complaining employees?

Questions you should consider are:

--is this bigger than you/a systemic problem at your company?
--Have there been past complaints of race discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation?
--Have there been class action lawsuits?
--Have there been complaints filed with agencies such as the EEOC?

Ask around. There is always someone who knows the dirty laundry. Identifying prior and similar bad acts can help prove your complaint of race-based mistreatment by showing historical patterns of problems with a coworker, supervisor, manager or a company, as a whole.

Get to the dirt! Knowledge truly is power!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

IN THE NEWS: EEOC Settles Suit Involving Hangman’s Nooses, KKK Graffiti and Slurs at Construction Site

PHILADELPHIA — On May 5, 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a major settlement of a racial harassment lawsuit for $1,650,000 and significant remedial relief against Conectiv, A.C. Dellovade, Inc., Steel Suppliers Erectors, Inc. and Matrix Services Industrial Contractors (doing business as Bogan, Inc. /Hake Group) on behalf of African American employees who were subjected to egregious racial harassment at a construction site in Bethlehem, Pa.

Conectiv was the general contractor and property owner on a project to build a new energy power plant on the site of a defunct steel plant. Construction on the project began in January 2002 and the plant was operating by the end of October 2003. The EEOC charged in the lawsuit that the defendants, acting as joint employers, subjected a class of African American employees to racial slurs and graffiti as well as threats by hangman’s nooses.

The EEOC said that harassment included a life size noose made of heavy rope hung from a beam in a class member’s work area for at least 10 days before it was removed; the regular use of the “N-word”; racially offensive comments made to black individuals, including “I think everybody should own one”; “Black people are no good and you can’t trust them”; and “Black people can’t read or write.” Additionally, racist graffiti was present written in portable toilets, with terms such as “coon”; “If u not white u not right”; “White power”; “KKK”; and “I love the Ku Klux Klan.”

“It should be obvious to construction companies that employees in this industry have the same legal protections against discrimination as those who work in an office setting,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Marie M. Tomasso, who oversaw the agency’s administrative investigation which preceded the litigation. “Employers risk intervention by the EEOC when supervisors ignore racially offensive working conditions and fail to take prompt and effective remedial action to stop it.”

As part of the settlement by consent decrees, Conectiv will pay $750,000 to the four class members, Matrix Services Industrial Contractors (doing business as Bogan, Inc./Hake Group) will pay $450,000 to two class members, Steel Suppliers Erectors, Inc. will pay $250,000 to one class member, and A.C. Dellovade, Inc. will pay $200,000 to one class member. In addition to the monetary relief, the four-year decrees (EEOC v. Conectiv, et al, Civil Action No. 2:05-cv-03389), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, includes: injunctive relief enjoining each defendant from engaging in racial harassment or retaliation; anti-discrimination training; the posting of a notice about the settlement; and reporting complaints of racial harassment to the EEOC for monitoring. Defendants did not admit liability in the consent decrees, which are pending judicial approval.

EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair said, “The harassment in this case is shocking and unconscionable. The display of hangman’s nooses, which represent a threat to life and limb, is abhorrent and will not be tolerated by the EEOC. Employers must realize there will be a high price to pay for such egregious and unlawful conduct, regardless of the industry in which it occurs.”

Terrence R. Cook, the supervisory trial attorney responsible for handling the litigation, added, “The class members had the courage to come forward and complain, first to supervisors, who did not take action, and then to the EEOC, which did. We are pleased that the companies worked with us to resolve the case and that they are all taking the positive steps needed to ensure future work sites are free from racial harassment.”

Karen McDonough investigated the charges of discrimination filed with the agency.

Racial harassment cases at the EEOC have surged since the early 1990s from 3,075 in Fiscal Year 1991 to nearly 7,000 in FY 2007. In addition to investigating and voluntarily resolving tens of thousands of race discrimination cases out of court, the EEOC has sued more than three dozen employers this decade in racial harassment cases involving nooses.

On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp launched the Commission’s E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforce­ment campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at its website at


Friday, May 16, 2008

Adverse Actions

An adverse action is an action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include:

--employment actions such as termination, refusal to hire, and denial of promotion,

--other actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance, and

--any other action such as an assault or unfounded civil or criminal charges that are likely to deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights.

Adverse actions do not include petty slights and annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance or history. Malicious and intentionally fraudulent negative comments are actionable.

Even if the prior protected activity alleged wrongdoing by a different employer, retaliatory adverse actions are unlawful. For example, it is unlawful for a worker's current employer to retaliate against him for pursuing a charge against a former employer. An employer might do this out of fear that they too will end up in litigation with an employee, who has a so-called history of filing a complaint against an employer.

An employer might try to short-circuit any future problems with this employee by engaging in actions that are meant to drive the employee out or to drill into the employee that they should remain quiet regarding complaints. This would represent an adverse action, a violation of Federal statutes.

For more information about adverse actions, see EEOC's Compliance Manual Section 8, Chapter II, Part D. The address is

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Conflicts of Interest in Internal Investigations

If you file an internal investigation, alleging racially-based misconduct on your job, it’s important that you know who is involved in the investigation and that you are watchful for people who may have a conflict of interest.

You want to make sure the investigation is going to be fair and impartial. So, you should do everything possible to make sure that the investigation isn't easily stacked in your employer’s favor. Therefore, it’s okay to question whether certain people can be objective and to express your concerns in writing. You should do this before any investigation begins.

For instance, if you are having a problem with a coworker in your department, you would be right to be concerned if one of the investigators is your mutual boss/executive manager who is buddies with or favors your coworker. You would be right in believing that this individual’s input could taint the investigation in your coworker’s favor. You should find out what kind of input this person will be asked to provide and voice your concerns if the input would be prejudicial.

Do not make it easy for people to execute a campaign against you. If you think a person will take the opportunity to discredit your case, put your concerns in writing and sit down with Human Resources to see if there is a way to have this person remove themselves from the investigation.

If Human Resources insists this person participate in the process, make sure a copy of your written protest against their participation remains in the investigatory record. This might be necessary documentation for an appeal.

In other words, don’t let them pretend you didn’t voice concerns about personal biases early in the process. Make sure you document any complaints about possible conflicts of interest, that you track who you complained to, and that you have a list of their responses.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Freedom of Information Act

A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.--James Madison

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives Americans the right to request and obtain documents and information from any agency of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government. The right to access to Federal records is enforceable by law. The information is usually provided for free or for a nominal fee.

Agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are subjected to FOIA requests for information.

The FOIC has certain exemptions, such as classified documents, trade secrets, and documents that are related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.

You may have to be nuanced when making a FOIA request. Looking at the exemption against releasing information that is solely related to internal personnel rules, it would be important to request information in a manner that shows the need for the public to be aware of certain practices because there is likely an impact on the public based on those internal policies. This doesn't guarantee a request such as this would be actionable, but you should present the best argument for your needs.

Even with its exclusions, the passage of the FOIA shifted the burden of proof from the individual to the government. Those seeking information are no longer required to show a need for information. Instead, the ``need to know'' standard has been replaced by a ``right to know'' doctrine. The government now has to justify the need for secrecy. Above all, the statute requires Federal agencies to provide the fullest possible disclosure of information to the public.

FOIA applies only to federal agencies, but, all of the states (and the District of Columbia and some territories) have enacted similar statutes to require disclosures by agencies of the state and of local governments.

FOIA requests are expected to be completed in 20 days.

Below is part of the signing statement recorded by then President Bill Clinton, when signing the Electronic Freedom of Information Act amendments on October 2, 1996:

In this Act, the Congress recognized that with today's limited resources, it is frequently difficult to respond to a FOIA request within the 10 days formerly required in the law. This legislation extends the legal response period to 20 days.

More importantly, it recognizes that many FOIA requests are so broad and complex that they cannot possibly be completed even within this longer period, and the time spent processing them only delays other requests. Accordingly, H.R. 3802 establishes procedures for an agency to discuss with requesters ways of tailoring large requests to improve responsiveness. This approach explicitly recognizes that FOIA works best when agencies and requesters work together. (end of excerpt from signing statement)

The Privacy Act is a companion to FOIA. As a result, the access provisions of the FOIA and the Privacy Act overlap in part. The two laws have different procedures and different exemptions. As a result, sometimes information exempt under one law will be disclosable under the other.

In order to take maximum advantage of the laws, an individual seeking information about himself or herself should ordinarily cite both laws. Requests by an individual for information that does not relate solely to himself or herself should be made only under the FOIA.

If you would like to file a FOIA request for a specific agency, you can visit that agency’s web site and look for the FOIA and/or privacy page for more information on making requests, including what types of information can be requested and other guidelines.

For a look at the full text of the FOIA, visit this link:

Other general sources of information about how to make a FOIA request include:

"Your Right to Federal Records," available for one dollar per copy from the Consumer Information Center, P.O. Box 100, Pueblo, CO 81002. This publication also can be accessed at

"A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records." This report is published by the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight of the House of Representatives. It is available for sale from the U.S. Government Printing Office, stock number 052-071-012-30-3, and can be accessed at

Sources:,,, and


Friday, May 09, 2008

No Post Today!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Whistle-blower Gets Busted!

The Associated Press reported, yesterday, that Federal agents conducted raids of the home and office of U.S. Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, the nation's top protector of government whistle-blowers.

They were searching for evidence that he retaliated against his own staff members!

Jeff Ruch, the Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Protection said, "It's like finding out that your town fire chief is an arsonist."

The raids took place in a downtown, District of Columbia office, and in suburban Virginia, where Mr. Block lived. In a creative touch, Mr. Block allegedly had "Geeks on Call" go to his office to wipe out his computer hard drive. Talk about nerve! He should have known that the staff he allegedly mistreated would dime him out!!

For a link to the Federal Whistle-Blowers web site, check the resources listed on the right side of this blog.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Get Your Props!

Working on my Office of Human Rights complaint against a former employer, so I am posting a reprint from 08/06 today (with a bit added to the end):

Whites Often Excel in the Workplace Because They Demand Kudos for Everything They Do!

It can be argued that Whites excel in the workplace, not only because of race-related bias, but because White workers often demand an audience/applause for everything they do in the workplace. It often does not matter whether or not a White person is simply doing a function of their job and has not undertaken any extreme measures to complete an assignment or task. The fact of the matter is that White workers are their own champions. When they do something, they will go tell it from the mountains!

If White workers:

--Stay in the office late to get something done;
--Arrive at work early to get something done;
--Work over the weekend;
--Work at home to get a head start on a project or to get something done;
--Do a little Internet research on a topic;
--Make simple/silly suggestions (such as printing handouts on colored paper);

They will make sure that everyone in their department knows about it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard White coworkers, at formal or informal meetings, announce that they worked over the weekend (there is a big emphasis on this if the weather was nice), added a news aggregator to their computer desktop to have client-related articles brought to their attention, or subscribed to a particular magazine that relates to a client’s area of specialization.

And, what’s more interesting is that these White workers often receive applause and attention for doing their damn jobs. Maybe I’m just not easily impressed. But, none of the things listed above automatically qualifies someone for an employee of the year nod. Sometimes you have to work late or go to the office early. Doing this a couple of times is often not worth mention. However, an extreme commitment in this area (overtime) would be worth noting. But, there is a caveat...if you are coming in early or working late because you procrastinate/can't manage your time, you shouldn't look for applause. But, I've seen White workers allow assignments to sit on the edge of their desks for weeks, and they still got applause when they worked late to make up for the time they intentionally squandered.

Black workers often listen to White workers bragging about themselves and think,” Big freaking deal!”

And, that’s often the problem with Black workers. We are often not as desperate for attention as we need to be. This is likely because most of us know that no one on the job truly cares what we do. Or, they simply want to marginalize or role and contributions in the workplace.

Many White supervisors/managers, workers, etc. don’t give a damn if they see a Black worker stay late, show up early, exceed the requirements of what was asked, save a baby from a fire, etc. Black workers often are still perceived as just another Negro in the workplace. Otherworldly contributions, by African American employees, are an unspoken bonus for the company that will not be redeemable during performance evaluation time or when salary increases are being discussed.

On the flip side, Whites who demand attention will be rewarded with a department or company-wide email detailing their “heroics,” a bonus, a great job review, and/or a special salary increase.

I remember working at the corporate headquarters of a bank, when there was a terrible blizzard. There wasn't any train service except underground and there was over a foot of snow. The roads weren't even plowed the next day because it was such a nightmare. Well, a White female coworker, who lived near the job, hitchhiked with someone in order to get to work. She was one of 3 employees who was able to make it in that day. I was no where near an underground subway stop and had no way to get out of my neighborhood. I didn't have a car, there was no bus service, etc. I was able to get to work the following day and immediately was criticized for not hitchhiking work like the White woman. The manager also tried to protray many people as having found a way to get to work, which wasn't true.

My response? I came right out and said, "She's just stupid." My manager was shocked. I said, "I value my life too much to get in a stranger's car. This job isn't worth my life. She's an idiot for getting in someone's car. If you're impressed by that, that's you." I also let the manager know that I knew the company was a graveyard the day before. I said that I knew that every office was empty or nearly empty. Business was shut down that day. And, that ended the conversation.

But, the White woman and the White manager talked about her hitchhiking for weeks. Guess what? She got a $5,000 bonus at the end of the year for showing such a great commitment to the job that she was willing to hitchhike. Guess what?

I could have hitched a ride in 10 cars to get to work that day...


Regardless, Whites know how to sell themselves and brag about themselves at work in order to get what they want and to get rewarded. When Blacks have gone to great lengths at work and have shown great performance, we need to make sure we express that and get credit for it.

We must document our contributions, such as creating streamlined procedures, winning over a difficult customer/client, etc. We have to be ready for performance evaluations (mid-year and end-year reviews). Regardless of the reward WE may get, we need to make sure we don't help others to shortchange us.

Get your props, people! Toot your own horn!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Resignation Letters: Keep it Simple!

Mary J. Blige sang it best, when she blurted out…No More Drama!

The same is true with resignation letters. If you're resigning because of race-based discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation (constructive termination), you've probably already had more drama than you can stand. So, try not to be highly emotional, when you’re writing your resignation letter!

Yes, you may be justified in being upset or angry, etc. However, those legitimate emotions can be twisted by your employer and can be used against you in the future. Remember, your official resignation is in writing. Therefore, it can come back to haunt you. So, choose your words carefully. Here are some tips:

--don’t forget to include the effective date of your resignation;

--give 2 weeks notice—unless there are extenuating circumstances.You're employer can claim that you didn't give enough notice to cover the workload and it resulted in missed deadlines, etc., which they may falsely claim is consistent of your behavior throughout your employment;

--write professionally--try not to be argumentative;

--spell-check and grammar check your resignation letter;

--don’t use profanity;

--don’t make threats of physical violence;

--don’t make threats of legal action—let your employer be surprised;

--don’t attach any old or new evidence that will be used in your complaint;

--don’t make any new accusations—at this point, save all issues for your complaint;

-- explain why you are ending your employment. If you are resigning for cause, briefly state the cause (harassment, falsely accused of performance deficiencies or insubordination, retaliation, etc.);

--don’t write about what your employer should have done—although you can briefly state that your employer failed to prevent or correct misconduct, etc;

--don’t write a 100 page resignation letter—keep it as short as possible;

--CC: HR and the Director of your department/unit (assuming your resignation is sent to your immediate supervisor); and

--inquire about the date for your exit interview (and plan to be truthful at the meeting with HR).

Remember: If you are resigning due to race-based misconduct, don’t let fear cause you to write a resignation letter that sounds like a glowing thank you letter (e.g., I appreciate the opportunities provided to me by the company.) If you were forced to resign, you should not portray yourself as a happy camper on the way out the door. Your employer will gladly show your smiley face resignation letter to any investigator or jury and will state that it is proof that you weren’t subjected to an offensive or hostile work environment.

If you weren't happy as an employee, don't pretend that you were! Don’t play yourself by worrying about burning bridges as you exit the company. If you were dealing with race-based issues, they won’t be hiring you back anyway! Focus on preserving the integrity of your complaint.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 05, 2008

Questions Investigators Will Ask to Probe for Retaliation

Workplace retaliation is illegal under Title VII, which contains anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-retaliation provisions. The questions, listed below, come from the EEOC and provide you with an idea of the kind of questions an investigator will be contemplating, in the event you file a complaint of workplace retaliation. These are just some of the considerations that would be part of a formal complaint:

1. Did the employee oppose discrimination in the workplace? (retaliation based on a complaint of discrimination)

a. Did the employee explicitly or implicitly communicate to the employer or another covered entity a belief that its activity constituted unlawful discrimination under Title VII…?

b. If the protest was broad or ambiguous (an employee didn’t come right out and say they felt they were the victim of discrimination), would the employee’s protest reasonably have been interpreted as opposition to such unlawful discrimination?

c. Did someone closely associated with the employee oppose discrimination?

2. Did the employee have a reasonable and good faith belief that the practice they were opposing opposed practice violated the anti-discrimination laws?

a. If so, the employee is protected against retaliation, even if s/he was mistaken about the unlawfulness of the challenged practices. If not, the employee is not protected under the anti-retaliation clauses.

3. Did the employee participate in the statutory complaint process?

a. Did the employee or someone closely associated with the employee file a charge, or testify, assist, or participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or lawsuit under the statutes enforced by the EEOC?

b. If so, the employee is protected against retaliation regardless of the validity or reasonableness of the original allegation of discrimination.

4. Did the employer subject the employee to any kind of adverse action? An adverse action is an action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include: employment actions such as termination, refusal to hire, and denial of promotion and other actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance [heightened scrutiny].

5. Is there direct evidence that retaliation was a motive for the adverse action?

a. Did the employer, manager, etc. admit that it undertook the adverse action because of the protected activity?

b. Did the employer, manager, etc. express bias against the employee based on the protected activity? If so, is there evidence linking that statement of bias to the adverse action? Such a link would be established if, for example, the statement was made by the decision-maker at the time of the challenged action.

6. Is there circumstantial evidence that retaliation was the true reason for the adverse action?

a. Is there evidence raising an inference that retaliation was the cause of the adverse action? Such an inference is raised if the adverse action took place shortly after the protected activity and if the decision-maker was aware of the protected activity before undertaking the adverse action.

b. If there was a long period of time between the protected activity and the adverse action, is there other evidence raising an inference that the cause of the adverse action was retaliation?

7. Has the employer produced evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse action?

a. Is the employer’s explanation a pretext designed to hide retaliation? (Readers: many employers come up with fraudulent, non-discriminatory reasons for adverse actions. These are called pretexts and have been discussed on this blog many times. A pretext is a cover story that is used to create a non-race related reason for events that have transpired at work. Any smart employer will try to come up with a good pretext, a legitimate reason for targeting an employee. This, an employer hopes, would prevent the company from being found guilty of violating Federal workplace statutes.)

b. Did the employer treat similarly situated employees who did not engage in protected activity differently from the employee?

c. Did the employer subject the employee to heightened scrutiny after s/he engaged in protected activity?

These are just some of the questions that an investigator will seek answer for. If, on the basis of all of the evidence, the investigator is persuaded that retaliation was the true reason for the adverse action, then "cause" should be found.


Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 02, 2008

Update: Reporting and Documenting the Pro-Discrimination Conference Call

A short post at the end of the week to update you on what’s happened regarding the conference call I mentioned on Monday. The call promoted discrimination/segregation of work. I will remind you that my coworker asked me to stay out of the situation, since I was not on the phone call. I will also remind you that my coworkers do not want to go to EEOC at this time. Anyway, here’s what’s happened:

1. My coworker documented the call, including who specifically said what about the intentional discrimination and segregation of work assignments;

2. My coworker conducted research into anti-discrimination laws;

3. My coworker wrote a memo to our supervisor, which included the specifics of what happened, strong language regarding how offensive the call was (including statements made by White coworkers and our supervisor), and highlights of Federal law and company policy, which state that discrimination is illegal and that segregation of work is illegal—with examples from the EEOC;

4. My coworker asked for an official explanation for the discriminatory conduct being promoted/encouraged;

5. My coworker asked for an official phone conversation about her memo and concerns; and

6. My coworker followed that up with a memo to the Regional Director of our group. She explained what happened and that the policy was illegal. She asked for a copy of the official policy on transitioning work, in writing.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tips for Coping with a Negative Work Environment

Being subjected to a hostile work environment (a pervasive/persistent negative and offensive work environment) is illegal under Title VII. If you’ve become subjected to a negative work environment based on racial discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, it’s important that you come up with strategies for dealing with your situation. Here are some tips:

TIP #1: Document everything and everyone that is contributing to a hostile work environment. Create a chart that details each incident that takes place, who was involved, etc. This will help with recollecting events at a later time and the chart can be used as evidence in an internal or external investigation.

Tip #2: You have to be proactive in coming up with strategies for how to cope with persistently offensive work environment, including deciding when it may be time to end your employment. You need to decide if you are going to file a complaint with your manager and/or HR staff, file an external complaint or take some other internal or external action.

TIP #3: If you should decide to leave employment, carefully examine the job market, your finances, and your options. If you are forced to resign your position, always try to leave a job on your own terms. It’s a tough job market, so it’s probably wise to make sure you having another job lined up before leaving. That assumes that your job isn’t so hostile that it’s taken a physical toll on you, such as high blood pressure (dizziness, seeing spots, etc.) or some other problem that might require you to act before you’ve found other employment.

TIP #4: If you stay at your job, do everything in your power to create a positive and peaceful environment. You can use music, photos/artwork, etc. to create a relaxed atmosphere in your office or cubicle. You can steal some moments of peace by taking a 5-10 minute walk outside of the office building. Or, you simply stand outside for a few minutes to purge the negative energy from the office.

Tip #5: Try making quick phone calls to friends and family throughout the day. Talk about something besides work. Or, meet up with a friend for lunch and talk about something other than your problems at work.

TIP #6: Focus on doing your job correctly. Don’t give your employer ammunition to use against you that will “justify” your continued mistreatment. Pay attention to details and proof your assignments. Don’t get into arguments with coworkers or managers that can be used to “prove” you allegedly can’t take criticism, are insubordinate, etc. Finally, make sure you follow all project rules/protocol and all of your company practices and procedures.

Tip #7: Don’t forget that exercise helps to relieve stress and tension. Try to work out in the morning or after work!

Labels: ,

Toshiba Computers
Blogarama - The Blog Directory <