Friday, January 07, 2011

Figure Out How to Battle the Lies...Your Reputation May Depend On It!

When you are contemplating filing a race-based complaint, internally or externally, think about how you will overcome the lies that your employer probably has already told about you.

An employer can make up any excuse to justify employment actions against an employee. These excuses don’t have to be proven unless the employee complains about the action. So, the employer can go ahead and accuse you of fabricated performance deficiencies and use those false allegations to deny you a promotion, for example. Unless you say, “I’m being denied advancement for reasons that are without merit…,” no one will ever examine the charges against you. Human Resources is not going to step in and say, “Wait a minute. That’s not the [insert your name] that I know. What’s going on?”

Unless you work for an extremely small company, HR staff may know your name, they probably remember what department you’re assigned to, they may remember your title, but they don’t know your specific contributions to the company—during any given day, month or year. So, don’t think someone in HR will get suspicious, if you are suddenly accused of very negative behavior at work, which is completely out of character for you.

They don’t know you like that and, half the time, HR staff isn’t getting into that level of detail on any employee, unless they are asked to give input on an employment situation—usually at manager’s/supervisor’s, etc. request. When I worked in HR, not one HR staff person read the performance evaluations that were filtered through our office for filing. We simply got a copy, ensured that the employee signed that they read and understood the review, ensured that the supervisor signed the review, and placed the review in the employee’s personnel file. That was it! We never read it to see if anything was fishy or inconsistent or contradictory or just plain unacceptable at face value.

So, it’s up to you to challenge false allegations that a coworker or supervisor, etc. is making about you that are impacting your career or work environment in a negative manner.

If you decide to challenge a false claim, the first thing you need to consider is how you are going to refute the lies. In other words, based on the example, how do you prove that you don’t have performance deficiencies? Well, you could:

--Show copies of previous performance evaluations that contradict what was said;
--Produce copies of emails that contradict new negative allegations against you; and
--Show thank you cards form clients and coworkers; etc.

I know, I’ve gone over some of this before, but we—as a people—really need to get these things drilled into our heads! What else can you do?

Go to the personnel manual. Try to show that your supervisor, employer, etc. violated the company’s own written policies and procedures. That is powerful! Your employer is then forced to justify why they did not follow the pre-existing guidelines they established. This goes a long way in showing an agenda against an employee and shows clear intent, not an accident, in executing an employment action!!

If you are placed on probation, for example, based on false allegations, go to the personnel manual. What does the manual say about handling management issues? If the manual says that an employee should first be given 1) an oral warning; 2) a written warning; 3) be placed on probation, your employer would have to answer why they jumped to step #3 of their own process. They have to justify why what you did was so egregious they violated their own policy, especially if you don’t have a history of having any performance issues.

Other things you could do include:

--Getting witness corroboration to support your version of events. Ask coworkers to write statements for you or to speak to HR reps on your behalf. Getting support in writing is best!

--Tape recording meetings to get verbal threats, racial epithets, etc. on tape.

--Keeping a log of all race-based incidents, incidents of harassment, etc. with specifics details on who did what and when!

--Requesting an internal investigation to place the burden on the company to stop or reverse the fraudulent employment action. Get the HR department on record, should you need to go to a lawyer or outside investigatory agency!

--Keep a log of all the lies your employer tells and write specific quotes (include the date and time of conversations, etc.). Put yourself in a position to have fantastic recall of who said what and when!

Don’t just hand over your career to workplace racists! Fight for what you have earned. It’s a small world. You never know who you will be working with again in the future, especially if you work in a small industry, where everyone knows each other or it's easy to run into former coworkers at meetings, etc. Former coworkers and bosses may even end up representing your clients. Imagine being poisoned on that side of the business.

A bad and falsely earned reputation can haunt you for years!


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