Friday, May 29, 2009

Use the Personnel Manual Against Your Employer

If you are a target at work, one of the things you need to do is to take a good hard look at your personnel manual. I don’t mean skim the manual. I mean read it. Look for anything in the policies and procedures that show that your supervisor, manager, HR or anyone in authority violated or side-stepped the company’s established guidelines.

Think of how you can use the company’s policies and procedures to illustrate and document how your employer was intentionally and blatantly disregarding their own written policies and practices in order to ignore your plight, disregard your requests, silence your complaint, and/or in order to create a hostile and offensive work environment for you as a means of retaliation. Here’s what I suggest you do:

-- Check the personnel manual on a semi-regular basis to see if there are any changes or updates. Your HR department is supposed to announce changes, but they don’t always do so in a timely fashion.

-- Check the sections of the personnel manual that relate to any issues you have and make sure the company is following its own policies and procedures. If decisions are made that seem to contradict the company’s policies and procedures, ask for clarification--in writing. Be clear about the contradiction to policy and ask that the procedures outlined be followed or for a full explanation about why another course of action was taken.

-- Use quotes from the personnel manual when you are emailing HR or executive staff about your complaint. This will let them know you’re familiar with the policies and procedures of the company. It tells them you know how they are supposed to be handling your case. This also lets your company know how serious you are about the issue. This awareness should encourage your employers to follow their own 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 ignore your complaint.

-- If you are confused about something in the personnel manual, ask questions. Some of the information may be confusing. You have a right to ask for clarification. If you’re uncomfortable asking someone in HR for clarification, speak to someone you trust--who would know the correct answer.

-- Develop a list of any contradictions in the actions taken by your employer against you and the policies they have established. Show how you company has repeatedly gone against policy, if they have done so.

-- Make a copy of the personnel manual, at the very least copy the sections that are relevant to any issues you may have at work. You may need to compare an old version of the manual to an updated version of the manual in order to highlight changes that have been made. Some companies only have their personnel manual available online through an intranet, so you should definitely be certain to maintain a hard copy of relevant policies.

-- Always look at the sections on anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, retaliation, filing an internal complaint, promotion criteria, performance review guidelines, and addressing performance issues. These are some of the likely sections that will be relevant; especially if your company is setting you up for tangible employment actions (e.g., misrepresenting promotion criteria in order to pretend you don’t currently qualify for a promotion) or setting you up for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Here’s something to remember about written policies as you read through your personnel manual. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states:

“…there are no safe harbors for employers based on the written content of policies and procedures. Even the best policy and complaint procedure won’t alone satisfy the burden of proving reasonable care…if the employer failed to implement its process effectively.”

In other words, if your employer wasn’t taking the necessary steps to ensure that its anti-harassment polices were properly enforced, your employer can wave a hard copy of their anti-harassment policy all day and all night and it won’t do them any good. Simply having a written anti-harassment policy won’t protect them from allegations of harassment nor will it prove that your employer has not violated Federal law.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Healthy Dose of Paranoia

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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Witness Corroboration: My Story

I filed a case with the Office of Human Rights in August 2004 and my case is just getting to a point where a determination will be reached shortly. That makes nearly 5years of delays and "investigation" by the state county agency that has jurisdiction over workplace racism cases in the area where I was employed.

I have already heard that not a single witness in my case has confirmed ONE BIT of evidence that I presented. Everyone pretended not to know anything about my case or they said they couldn't remember anything. I am not surprised.

I've written many posts about how you must document a list of witnesses who can confirm your versions of events and then it is up to them to decide whether or not to tell the truth.

My case has gone on for such a great length of time and I have not been in contact with most of these witnesses, as to not be accused of trying to influence what they may or may not say to an investigator. I've always written and still believe that you can't stress yourselt out about things you can't control--such as the testimony and interviews that others will provide.

I'm not surprised that people said they "forgot" everything. Why would anyone feel compelled to provide truthful testimony? The reality is, they don't owe me anything. They have to decide what they can and will live with. Some may have thought they didn't want to burn any bridges with a former employer, who they may need for an employment reference in the future. They may have decided this was a place they may want or need to work at again the future. Some may have decided it wasn't worth the headache to them. Others may have feared the "it's a small world" mentality and thought they might face retaliation, even if though they didn't work at that job anymore.

Most of my witnesses went to work for competitors and we worked in a really targeted field, where many people know each other. I can understand someone fearing word getting out that they participated in an investigation against a former employer.

You hope people will do the right thing. But, it's just not up to you. Strangely, I don't even feel any animosity towards anyone on my witness list. In a way, they lived up to my expectations, which was that they would pretend to have no relevant information--that they would claim they NEVER knew anything!

Still, I hoped that I would be disappointed. But, it wasn't to be.

When my former coworker had a case against the same employer, I was the only person to provide truthful testimony FROM THE START. Everyone else pretended to not know anything about her case or they signed false statements from our employer or they helped participate in a campaign to retaliate against her through isolation, marginalization, etc. Later, some had to recant their testimony, but it was only after they got caught in lies and were confronted by the investigator. Then, they admitted to lying. But, I told the truth from jump! It brought about my own retaliation and led to me being forced to resign and relocate out-of-state, but I still wouldn't do anything differently today. I can look in the mirror with pride. And, I know that me telling the truth made a difference for her in a fight to vindicate her employment and civil rights.

Even though she had a favorable outcome in her complaint, she often talked about being really disappointed in our coworkers, who lied and denied. And, I shared those feelings.

But, that doesn't mean you should feel the same way. Try to have faith that some or ONE of your witnesses will have the courage to speak truth to power. It's still worth it to keep a list of witnesses and to jot down the information they can provide to an investigator or lawyer, should they be willing to cooperate.

Witness corroboration, by someone, is a major piece of evidence. Without it, you can only stand on written documentation, which can be twisted and manipulated and you will end up with a he said/she said type of case. Having someone, other than you, confirm a story is a major blow to an employer.

So, always maintain a witness log. And, then realize that whatever will be...will be! It's out of your control. Don't let other people's weaknesses destroy you or shake your faith!

I won't.

I still believe in karma!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tips for Responding to Attacks, When You're Pissed Off

One of the hardest things in the world, especially when you’re young, is to write an email or memorandum when you are ready to tear someone’s head off! When you’re working with The Black Factor, you have to be mindful of the stereotypes associated with African Americans and work against those perceptions.

Don’t give people any ammunition to call you angry, defensive, hostile, pissed, irate or confrontational. Find ways to present your case in clear, yet “non-attitudey” language. I’ve been in this situation many times (ready to slice heads off like a ninja), so trust my advice. When it comes to composing emails and memos, when you’re angry:

-- If you’ve received something in writing, read it, walk away, and then read it again. If you are dealing with negative verbal communication, walk away, take a deep breath, and do something else for a few minutes (don’t seethe). After some time has passed, mentally revisit your upsetting conversation and decide if your initial impression of what was said is correct.

-- Talk to a trusted coworker or friend. When you get upset at work, talk to a coworker or friend, even someone who doesn’t work at the company. It’s best to speak to someone with more experience than yourself, who may have been involved in similar situations and is able to give you perspective on what has happened and how you should respond--if at all.

If you don’t have a more senior coworker or friend to speak to, at the very least talk to someone with values, a work ethic, and a level of professionalism that are similar to your own. This way, you know you can trust their opinion and advice. Let them read your email or talk to them about the negative exchange. See if they think you’re overreacting or if you really have an issue you should address. Remember, you are looking for an objective opinion, but, ultimately, you have to trust your own instincts. Your friend or coworker may not know the person you’re discussing as well as you do or may not understand the dynamics of your office. If after talking it over, you feel you need to respond, you should be professional, direct, and respond promptly.

-- If you are responding to email, prepare your response in another software format, like Microsoft Word. When you receive an email that angers you, don’t hit the “reply” button and then compose your email response. You may accidentally send the message before you are ready to do so. Instead, compose your response in another program and cut and paste it into the email when you are ready to send it.

--Always assume someone else may be blind-copied on an email. This is why you should develop the habit of clicking on the “Rely to All,” when responding to email. This is also why you should always retain the highest level of professionalism--at all times! Don’t lash out and don’t respond with the first feelings that come to mind. Take your time thinking of what you want to say, what information you need to include, and what tone is appropriate for your response.

-- Highlight the areas of question or concern. When you’re mad, you may tend to respond with emotions. Try to avoid this behavior and stick with facts. Try to be very specific about any issues. You can identify exact quotes or language that support your claims and you can address how this impacts your work or reputation or job security.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Protected Activity and Opposition to Discrimination

An employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise "retaliate" against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially equal work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.

What is a protected activity?

Protected activities includes:

Opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination

Opposition is informing an employer that you believe that he/she is engaging in prohibited discrimination.

Opposition is protected from retaliation as long as it is based on a reasonable, good-faith belief that the complained of practice violates anti-discrimination law; and the manner of the opposition is reasonable.

Examples of protected opposition include:

-Complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination against oneself or others;

-Threatening to file a charge of discrimination;

-Picketing in opposition to discrimination; or

-Refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory.

Participation in an employment discrimination proceeding is also protected activity.

Participation means taking part in an employment discrimination proceeding. Participation is protected activity even if the proceeding involved claims that ultimately were found to be invalid. Examples of participation include:

-Filing a charge of employment discrimination;

-Cooperating with an internal investigation of alleged discriminatory practices; or

-Serving as a witness in an EEO investigation or litigation.

A protected activity can also include requesting a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability.

For more information about Protected Activities, see EEOC's Compliance Manual, Section 8, Chapter II, Part B - Opposition and Part C - Participation.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Know When To Say Goodbye!

Fighting Back Sometimes Means Walking Away! It's an ugly and sad truth.

When I was dealing with and fighting back against race-based retaliation at work, and was starting to be hit with some scary health consequences (high blood pressure, etc.), I had to finally ask myself a tough question: Why am I staying at a job that’s killing me? When I thought about it, I realized there were many answers:

· I didn’t do anything wrong, so why should I be forced out?
· I don’t want to quit! I want to leave on my own terms!
· I don’t want them to win!
· I don’t want them to do this to someone else!
· I don’t want to be weak/break! That’s what they want—the ultimate prize!
· Why should I be the one to resign? Why don’t they fire the racists, the harassers, and the instigators?!

And, then I thought of a mega- reason not to leave my job. Damn it! I just don’t feel like going on interviews. What’s the point?! White people everywhere are all the same. It’s just going to be more of the same old bullsh*t. Or, it could be worse.

And, you know what? That last great thought of mine was a load of sh*t! No people are all the same. I know that. And, yes, I could end up at a job with more prevalent racism, but MAYBE NOT! Regardless of the prospects, THIS job was killing me and I knew I had no choice but to...


It wasn’t about winning or losing. It wasn’t about being weak or strong. I had to focus on myself and not on the racist, the harassers or the company. I realized that I didn’t have to stay at the company to fight for my rights. I could file a government complaint and then I could…MOVE ON!

Guess what? After a few months out of that job and forcing myself not to be consumed by hatred each day, my blood pressure began to drop and the threat of a lifetime on medicine was gone.

If you are experiencing health related problems at work, you need to stop and think about the lifelong consequences of subjecting yourself to that daily torment. Don’t worry…you can still file a complaint with the EEOC, the Office of Human Rights or with an attorney in order to vindicate your rights.

You don’t have to put yourself into the hornet's nest in order to bring your employer to justice.

You can walk away, repair your health, and STILL fight to make a change. Don’t consider that weak. Consider that smart. If you were to die at your desk or at home from a heart attack or stroke, what good would you reporting to that harmful job each day have done to you or your loved ones?

If you want to pursue the many options available to fight back against race-based misconduct at work, you can do that outside of the job. You don’t have to stay at the company in order to prove wrongdoing. Sometimes you have to walk away in order to have the strength for the fight and to be in the fight for the long haul.

Before you go, if you decide to leave, be sure you have a copy of every important document that is relevant to your case and of every document that may be relevant to your case. Don’t leave without having everything you need to prove your case.

And, always get contact information for the coworkers, who witnessed your abuse. They aren't guaranteed to cooperate in the investigation, but at least you will be able to pass their information along to an investigator or lawyer. How they behave is however they decide to behave! You don't control that, but you can set yourself up in a better position by allowing someone else to attempt to get the real deal from witnesses.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

LEGAL BRIEF: Company Fired Employee for Complaining About Manager’s Racist Comments, EEOC Charged

This is a really good legal brief because it is rare to see one piece of evidence that shows a direct connection between a worker complaining about a race-based issue and an employer taking direct actions against that worker because of the complaint. Normally, workers have to show a bunch of circumstantial evidence that shows that a certain incident happened AND that they were retaliated against because of that incident. This might include needing all sorts of witness corroboration and having to rely on folks to tell the truth about what they heard and saw.

In this case, a worker complained about a safety officer's racially offensive comments and an investigation was conducted. The person making the offensive remarks was fired.

But, that wasn't enough for some. Weeding out the racist didn't end it. The complaining employee now seemed to represent a threat to those who remained and was seen as a potential liability to have around. A false allegation was raised about the complaining worker. The HR manager not only sent an email recommending the firing of this worker based on the false allegation, but also mentioned that the worker is the one who accused the safety officer of making racially offensive comments. The HR manager did this in the SAME EMAIL. One important note, the HR manager recommended firing without conducting an investigation.

That is a big deal because it highlights that the firing was connected to the complaint. The decision-makers were being encouraged to use the complaint as incentive to fire the complaining worker.

It's not a surprise that this one piece of evidence led to a settlement in that case. See the details below:


HOUSTON – Conroe, Texas-based Maverick Tube Corporation will pay $175,000 to settle a retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced last Thursday.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, filed in June 2007, (C.A. 4:07-cv-02033 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division), charged that in May 2005, Maverick Tube retaliated against Andra Williams by firing him after he reported to its president and chief operating officer the safety manager’s racially offensive comments.

The company investigated Williams’s complaint and, as a result, discharged the manager. But, less than a month after he reported the comments, Williams was fired after he was falsely accused of saying he would call the company’s president to report his supervisor if he was not permitted to have a requested vacation day. Before conducting any investigation into the allegation made against Williams, the regional human resources manager stated in an e-mail that Williams should be immediately fired. In that same e-mail, the HR manager reminded his readers that Williams had recently complained about the safety manager’s racial comments.

Retaliation for complaining about discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

The four-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen W. Smith, requires the company to pay $175,000 in monetary relief to Williams. Additionally, the decree requires annual mandatory training on Title VII for all of the company’s managers and employees at its Conroe facility. That training must include instruction regarding the illegality of retaliating against employees who complain about conduct which they believe to be discriminatory. The company must also post an anti-discrimination notice, provide monitoring reports to the EEOC and issue a disciplinary notice to the company’s regional human resources manager.

“Retaliation is an issue of special concern to the EEOC,” said Kathy D. Boutchee, the EEOC senior trial attorney in charge of the case. “Employees have the clear right to report employment practices which they believe are discriminatory without fear of retribution. This case should serve as a firm reminder to employers that it is unlawful to retaliate against an individual for exercising his statutory right to report, oppose or complain about discrimination or to file a charge of discrimination.”

Jim Sacher, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office, added, “When the EEOC brings suit, it does so to benefit the public at large. For that reason, the disciplining of an errant human resources manager, the inclusion of annual training for managers and employees, monitoring of future complaints of discrimination and retaliation and other injunctive relief are all equally important parts of the settlement.”

Maverick Tube Corporation is a subsidiary of Tenaris. According to its website, it is a leading supplier of tubes and related services for the energy industry. It has 24,000 employees.

Retaliation charges filed with the EEOC rose from 26,663 in Fiscal Year 2007 to 32,690 in FY 2008, and have nearly tripled in the last 15 years.

The EEOC enforces the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination and retaliation. Additional information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s website at

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Have You Learned That You Can Pass On To Other Black Workers?

After watching a friend and coworker be subjected to constructive termination (being forced to resign) by our employer based on discriminatory and retaliatory treatment, I was also subjected to retaliation. I believe that I learned from what I witnessed her go through and it helped me to document information that I wouldn't have previously thought to record.

My point in creating this blog was to pass on what she knew and what I have learned from both of our experiences. I believe that each one should teach one and each one should pull one, as the expression goes. I want everyone, who is battling racism at work, to be a step ahead of where we were. I want you to have better odds at vindicating your rights because you knew more sooner.

Each of us has to pass on what we've learned to other workers. By increasing our knowledge and providing each other with this form of support, we go a long way in helping to battle this insidious monster known as racism.

So, the question for those who've fought racism in the workplace is:


If you've found a web site or some other source of information, let us know. If you've got some ideas about what to do and not to do--from your personal experience--let us know. If there is something you did to keep your sanity, tell us about it.

What would you like to pass on?

I'll publish your answers on the blog next week.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The Legal Brief gives everyone an idea of some of the types of cases that EEOC litigates, provides information on anti-discrimination legal proceedings/court rulings, and identifies some of the specific race-based issues that other Blacks have faced and challenged in the workplace. The Legal Brief also provides insight into the arguments presented by EEOC and the defenses offered by employers. This information may be helpful to workers, who may be considering filing a complaint or seeking legal counsel, as well as to employees who feel they are becoming embroiled in race-related issues at work.

This legal brief is about a home-builder assigning Black agents to work in neighborhoods based on the racial make-up of the surrounding community. Meaning, they weren’t assigned to work in neighborhoods where homes had a higher price value. Thus, this race-based discrimination hit these agents squarely in the pocketbook.

I worked for an employer who allowed researchers to be assigned to projects strictly based on race. So, Black researchers could only conduct research with Black participants/subjects. Hispanics could conduct surveys on Hispanics. Whites, however, were allowed to conduct research with ALL racial groups. This allowed them to work on more projects and on more high profile projects.

Employers aren’t allowed to discriminate against workers by allowing them to only work with those who are “like them.”

Tolerance and head-turning allow discrimination to thrive. What's great about this legal brief is that the case came to light because a White HR Representative resigned because she refused to discriminate in this manner. She filed a complaint about her employer's actions. If more people would behave with the values we preach, as a society, we might be able to more quickly eradicate discirminatory behavior.

Here are the specifics:


Home Builder Unlawfully Assigned Sales Agents by Race, Federal Agency Charges

ATLANTA – John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Inc., an Atlanta-based home builder, unlawfully engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against black sales agents, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed in April.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Wieland intentionally assigned African American sales agents to housing communities based on the race of the surrounding community. The lawsuit charges that these practices resulted in black agents earning significantly less than their white counterparts, who were assigned to housing communities where they sold higher-priced homes.

The EEOC began investigating the employer when a white human resources represent­ative filed a discrimination charge with the agency stating that she was forced to participate in the discriminatory practice or face termination. Michelle Mouser served as a Wieland human resource representative in Atlanta and was responsible for recruiting sales agents to work onsite at new housing commu­nities that were under construction. The company’s management responsible for such hiring expressly stated that the goal was to hire and assign employees whose race corresponded with the predominant population of each community. Therefore Mouser was told that she could not hire qualified African American sales agents for communities with pre­dominantly Caucasian populations.

When Mouser complained about the company’s discriminatory practices to management officials, no action was taken. Because management failed to act and Mouser could not partici­pate in the illegal hiring practices, she felt forced to resign.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Case Number 1:09-CV-1151 filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Inc. develops land and builds cluster homes, town homes, and upscale single-family homes in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Ga., Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., Louisville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn. Wieland also provides remodeling and land­scaping services and offers mortgage lending to its customers.

The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Mouser. The agency is also seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the affected African American sales agents for the period beginning in 2003. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief designed to stop the discrimination and prevent it from recurring in the future.

“Race discrimination is still an insidious but prevalent form of discrimination,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “All employees are entitled to a workplace free of racial discrimination. More importantly, all individuals, regardless of their race, have the right to the same employment opportunities. No one should be pigeonholed into particular job assignments based solely on race. This lawsuit demonstrates that the EEOC takes such forms of discrimination seriously.”

In Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received 33,937 charges alleging race-based discrimin­ation, accounting for 36 percent of the agency's private-sector caseload. Historically, race-based charges have been the most frequent type of filing with EEOC offices nationwide.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stay Focused and Remain Credible

Most people, who’ve become a target at work, can tell some real horror stories about how far a supervisor, executive or a company—as a whole—was willing to go in order to deny them a promotion, set them up for termination, etc.

They can also tell you stories about how bold many workers at a company are and how they often eagerly participate in activities with a supervisor or on behalf of the company. The level of complicity is staggering, when it comes to the networks that are built with the sole purpose of getting rid of an employee, trying to get the company out of legal jeopardy, etc.

I worked at a company that was found guilty of retaliating against a Black manager. The company was found guilty of illegal behavior that included creating false documentation (e.g., falsifying timesheets in a malicious attempt to show the manager had been absent without official leave). This employer also went as far as creating documentation of fabricated and malicious performance deficiencies that did not exist. All of this false documentation served the sole purpose of trying to create a pretext (read: a legitimate reason) for why supervisors, HR staff, and others were targeting this Black manager. Luckily, it didn’t work.

But, sometimes it does.

Regardless of whatever kind of shady activities any coworker, supervisor, manager, director, executive, etc. is engaging in at work, it’s up to you to maintain the high road by remaining truthful about your situation on the job.

Let the liars lie. Let the schemers scheme. You can’t control anyone, but yourself. So, when people are lying on you and scheming against you, your best bet is to be very observant, to keep your ears open, and to document everything.

Here’s the deal. Any internal or external investigator or an attorney is going to try to get to the truth of what has taken place at a company. Part of finding the truth will include phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, discussions with witnesses, an examination of evidence (charts, instructions, emails, memos, etc.) and other factors. When everything is said and done, someone will be determined to be truthful and someone’s allegations will be found to be without merit.

Don’t let that person be you!

When people are lying about you and destroying your reputation and career at work, it is tempting to try to hit back at them as hard as they are coming at you. But, you can’t sink to the level of dirty water. Think about it…

Unless you are working at some little rinky-dink company, your employer is likely going to have a lot of manpower and other resources to commit to bringing you down, slandering your reputation, setting you up for failure to justify negative employment actions (including termination), and to pretty much do whatever is ordered by those in authority.

You don’t and won’t have those kinds of resources and support. So, the best thing you can do is to be aware of your rights, to document everything, to keep lists of witnesses to back up your story, to tape record conversations, to save important emails, memos, instructions, offensive phone messages, etc. as a way to prove that you are being subjected to illegal mistreatment.

Never submit to the temptation to stretch the truth or outright lie. One fabrication revealed by a 3rd party (investigator or attorney) will shatter your credibility and make you look like a flat out liar and troublemaker. Lies can turn the case in favor of your employer, who might have been found guilty of misconduct...if you’d stuck to the facts!

It’s hard enough to get people to believe race-based complaints. So, do not give your employer ammunition and don’t set yourself up to be disbelieved based on a white lie or a major lie. Instead, focus on revealing the lies being told by a coworker, supervisor or anyone else at your job, who is engaging in a cover-up or who is targeting you solely based on your race. Put your energy into refuting your employer’s claims that nothing happened or that your performance, attitude or behaviors somehow justified negative employment actions.

Also, remember that, when it comes to race, there are some White people who will give another White person the benefit of the doubt, even in the face of serious evidence of race-based misconduct. There are also some Black people, who do not believe that racism exists--except in the minds of race-baiting Blacks, who they think like to be vicitms. You don't know who you will encounter and what perspective they are bringing to the table.

Assuming a 3rd party investigating your complaint is not the most open-minded person on the planet, your job is to make it hard for that person to ignore the facts and to ignore the truth of what has happened at your job. If a 3rd party says that they have found no evidence of race-based discrimination or harassment, you can file an appeal (usually for an internal or external investigation). During the appeal, it may be revelaed that errors or biases wrongly impacted the findings in your case. But, again, your truthfulness will go a long way to showing your case has merit.

Remember: Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay strong. And, speak truth to power!

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Blog Was Shut Down Last Week!

Sorry for the disappearing act, last week, but my blog was shut down by the site administrators. Apparently, my blog gave the appearance of being a so-called spam blog. I don't really buy that story, but there was nothing I could do about it. Anyway, I had to request to have my blog reviewed to determine whether or not my blog would be reinstated or deleted from the site.

Thankfully, I lived to write another day.

Unfortunately, I don't have to time to blog this morning. I am scheduled to be interviewed for a management position and want to focus on that, since it's almost time for me to run out the door.

Wish me luck!

I will have a post tomorrow.

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