It's About Credibility
There are four basic components for looking into who is or isn’t credible: inherent plausibility, corroboration, motive to falsify, and past history. These are the same components that your employer will try to use to show that you—and not they—lack the credibility to be taken seriously.
Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself regarding the four basic components. These components are also helpful in shaping your overall arguments and positions regarding your complaint and any actions taken by your employer.
--Are your employer’s arguments and positions believable at face value? Why or why not?
--Do their statements and evidence (real or fabricated) make sense? Why or why not?
--Are the actions of your employer justified/appropriate based on allegations or has your employer overreached or overreacted? Explain your position in detail.
--Do the actions of your employer adhere with written policies and procedures or are there violations? For instance, does written policy state/suggest that you should have first been placed on oral warning, but your employer jumped 3 phases and suspended you? Or, was your complaint automatically supposed to be internally investigated (based on your complaint), but your employer did not look into the facts/blatantly ignored your complaint? Provide specifics, provide copies of written policies and procedures, and explain how policies and procedures were violated.
When it comes to inherent plausibility, your goal is to shoot holes in every one of your employer’s arguments and positions. You should be thinking of cross examinations at a trial, when the defense is trying to shut down and destroy prosecution witnesses. Attack! Attack! Attack!
Motive to Falsify
--Does your employer have a reason to lie?
If so, show how your employer's cover story is simply designed as a pretext to hide their real motive--discrimination, harassment, etc. Use your employer's arguments against them to expose contradictions, violations of policy, etc. Use circumstantial or direct evidence to show the false case that was built by your employer.
--Do your employer's witnesses have a reason to lie?
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, ‘If you think they’re out to get you, they probably are?”
Well, I’m aware of a case of race-based retaliation, where an employer tried to cover up activities against a Black manager by essentially bribing the Black staff in her department to make statements against her or to pretend they did not know what was going on within the department.
Suddenly, there was a market review conducted of salaries within the department and all of these underpaid Black employees received increases. Additionally, Black employees that were willing to sign false statements against the manager were also given a separate salary increase. There was suddenly a performance award given out with a $1,000 bonus. Coincidentally, a Black person in the manager’s department won the award. The award was touted as being a new annual award, but the award was NEVER given out again!
In my case, my two main witnesses received harassing treatment and were calling me to tell me about sudden performance issues they were being alleged to have. They both felt that they were being told to shut up about what they witnessed and heard being said to me.
These are the things you should try to expose because they show people’s motive to lie on you. Some people do not need money to lie. They will lie simply to win favor with your employer and they will HOPE that lying provides them a benefit somewhere along the line. These types of people may feel lying just amounts to office politics and smartly playing the corporate game, so they will take down anyone that may present them with a problem and they will do whatever it takes to show they are a team player.
Some people have a motivation to lie in order to protect someone in the workplace that is highly valued, that they have a close relationship with, etc. You can help prove motivation by showing the links between staff, managers, important business deals, etc.
--Is there witness testimony?
--Is there physical evidence?
You need to create and maintain a list of witnesses that can back up your story of workplace events. If employees resign, that have witnessed your mistreatment, get their contact information or—at the very least—snoop around and find out what company they’ve gone to work for. You can always look them up later.
If possible, get your witnesses to write statements about what they’ve seen. Ask them to get the statements notarized. Someone close to you may be willing to do this! If you think someone would be hesitant to provide you a statement or even to write down what happened in an email, trap them. Yes, I hate to go there, but sometimes you have to trick people into telling the truth. Just see if you can get the person to engage in an email conversation with you about the incident. You can be like, “Can you believe she called me a ------ ?” And, keep the conversation going as long as possible to show that you were called an offensive name, as per this example, and that someone else heard the slur.
As far as physical evidence, document everything, save all hard copies of important and relevant paperwork (e.g., administrative forms, timesheets, etc.), forward important email, memos, etc. to your personal internet account, and if there has been physical violence—take pictures. If there has been physical violence, you should also call the police and make a report. You can also secretly tape record conversations and meetings. Even if it’s not admissible in court, you can use it to convince an investigator, lawyer, etc. to understand that your case is with merit and should be investigated.
--Does your employer have a history of similar behavior and allegations?
You saw how they did Michael Jackson at his trial. Right or wrong, when there is an accusation, there is also an attempt to show a pattern of bad behavior. If you are under attack by your employer, you already know what I am talking about. In my case, one false allegation led to another and another. Before you knew it, my employer was trolling through my previous performance evaluations from years before and they were taking a sentence or two from the section about improving performance. They added this information to my current review and then wrote, in my latest review, that I was habitually and continually having these problems. This was a lie, but they were smart. They needed to make me a problem employee. They could only do that by pretending that I was consistently engaged in negative behavior. They twisted feedback on minor improvements that any employee could make and made them into a federal case that allegedly warranted me being targeted for HR attention.
This is what employers do, when they’ve committed to a course of action against an employee (e.g., setting a person up for termination, demotion, etc.).
You have to take the same tactic and show how your employer has a past history of engaging in mistreatment, misconduct, not investigating allegations of race-based abuses, or how they’ve previously engaged in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc. Ask questions and snoop around. One of your coworkers may have information you can use. Or, you may already know about how someone was dogged out by your employer, but you were uninvolved in the incident. Write down everything you know about that case and any others that are similar or show the same corporate dysfunctions you believe to be a problem in your case. Show the patterns!