Why Are There So Many “People of Color” in the Projects?

I used to wonder why so many “people of color” were living in the “Projects” in Asheville NC, which is my hometown. Surely, most of them want to work and live a dignified life like most Americans.  Everyone has their own thoughts, but I am going to share mine. When I moved to Asheville, NC after retiring from the Air Force, I noticed that there were very few people of color in Asheville.  After working only a few days in my former government agency, I realized there was a serious problem going on and it had been going on for a long time.  It was time to address the matter and to educate others so they could make cultivated decisions about their careers.

Nepotism, which is the illegal hiring of family and friends in the government has been ignored by many and actually celebrated by those who are benefitting from it.  When you have unlawful hiring of family and friends, the moral in the workplace goes down and you see “qualified” people working in the lowest grades in the federal government and “unqualified” people getting hired and promoted in the federal government. Then add in the fact that racial discrimination also plays an important part of why there are so many “people of color” who are suffering from financial drawbacks to not being hired or promoted in my hometown.  You can learn more about racial discrimination at www.EEOC.gov

When I worked in the second largest federal government agency, I noticed that there were only five black employees out of about 550 employees.  I listened to my “white” management brag about hiring their family and friends.  It was disgusting to me as employees would secretly talk to me about the matter because they knew I had worked in Human Resources for over 22 years at the time.  You are probably wondering—yes—I did report it to the Office of Special Counsel in Washington D.C.

Photo Courtesy of Images.google.com, with permission to reuse this picture

Many of these employees had many years of experience and education that should have supported them in receiving a job offer or a promotion if they were already hired in the agency.  But, no, they were being deprived of having a fair opportunity, while unqualified people were hired and promoted because they were friends and family members of management. How do federal supervisors and manager get away with nepotism and racial discrimination?  I will share three ways that can happen.

First, if a federal supervisor/manager wants to hire a “certain person”, they can write a position description (PD) that would “eliminate” other potential people from being qualified.  The PD is written where only this person or very few people are qualified for a job posting.  This is called a prohibited personnel practice (PPP) and it grants the “targeted individual hire” an illegal and unfair disadvantage.  You can research nepotism restrictions in your state at http://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/50-state-table-nepotism-restrictions.aspx.

Second, only certain federal employees receive training that can later support them receiving a promotion that requires the training they attended, while other employees may be denied this beneficial training. This is also a prohibited personnel practice that is illegal and reportable to the Office of Special Counsel that investigates valid prohibited personnel practices.  You can contact them here:  https://osc.gov

Third, if you are working in a federal agency and you are interviewed for a promotion opportunity, you may be “downgraded” in your skills or capabilities.  For example, when I applied for a supervisor position, I later found out that my supervisor experience was down-graded as if I had never been a supervisor and had no experience as a supervisor.  I had many years of experience as a supervisor and manager.  I found out my “low” supervisory scores I received during my in-house interview when I received access to view my scores and everyone else’s scores that applied for the promotion, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  You can learn more about accessing FOIA (federal) records here:  https://www.foia.gov/report-makerequest.html

If you are concerned that you were not hired due to nepotism or because of your race, be sure to reach out to the resources I provided in this article.  It is illegal to receive retaliation for being a “whistleblower”.  Yes—retaliation does happen, but if you ignore a serious problem, it does not go away—it lingers.  If you receive any kind of reprisal for filing charges of nepotism, prohibited personnel practices or discrimination based on unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information, be sure to contact the agency you filed the charges with and submit the “alleged retaliation” charges within the required time-frame required for each agency.  Most reprisals have to be submitted within 45 calendar days of the retaliation action.

If you are looking for resources on workplace bullying or discrimination you can find many answers here:  http://www.fspagainstbullying.org/workplace-bullying.html

Every Wednesday, you can watch a new video (1 -3 mins) I put out weekly, that addresses workplace bullying and discrimination solutions.  Be sure to “like” our business page: https://www.facebook.com/FiftyShadesOfPurpleAgainstBullying/   so you can get notifications of new videos and other valuable information.

Join our Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1752823468278515/ so you can get the support and guidance needed if you or another person is experiencing harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

Stay empowered and drop me a line if you found this article to be helpful at http://www.workplacebullyingsupport.com/contact/

 

 

I Had Become My Own Worst Nightmare–Landing in the Mental Health Ward

Dawn in Mar 2012--Two weeks after getting out of the Mental Health ward

As I look in the mirror in the bathroom today, I am reminded that three years ago today, I was rushed to the emergency room at the Charles George VA Hospital in Asheville NC and then admitted to the Mental Health ward for my well-being and safety. I was a government “whistleblower” speaking up on behalf of many people who were being abused at my federal agency.  I had succumbed to believing I was a “victim”.  Only a few years prior to this event, I was a happy-go-lucky person who never suspected I would land in the Mental Health ward for a few days.  It did not matter that I had served 20 years in the Air Force and had learned tenacity and courage, there comes a time when even strong people can be “beaten down” from workplace bullying and discrimination.  It happened to me on my Mother’s birthday, March 18, 2014, which is three years ago, from today’s writing.

I have overcome childhood sexual abuse, extreme harassment in the Air Force, and 14 severe counts of harassment were served up when I received retaliation for reporting my managers to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Somewhere in the middle of all this chaos, I sensed that I was supposed to experience this “madness”, for I knew I wanted to help others who are harassed and discriminated in their workplace.  While looking into a metal mirror on my third day in the Mental Health ward, I realized that I had become my own worst nightmare and enemy.  Never mind the yellow and purple skin that reflected a pitiful image back to me—I had had enough of myself!  It was time to find not the survivor in me, but the woman who served 20 years in the Air Force under some abusive leaders and managers.  I gathered up my strength and told the head Mental Health nurse that I was ready to check out and begin my new life.  I was released.

Who would ever guess that I would become a subject matter expert (SME) on workplace bullying and discrimination?  I became a certified life coach with iPEC and learned how to get my own life in order before I started helping others as a Personal Power coach.  I realized that my tool bag was getting pretty full with “skill sets”.  I had also become a consulting hypnotist so I could help others. I drew on my 27 years of working in Human Resources to not only “settle” with my former government agency and without a gag-order to remain silent, but to use my knowledge to help others who face harassment and discrimination in their work environments.

As time went by, I have had the opportunity to be on over 50 radio shows, featured in seven magazines, lauded by the Christian Science Monitor, and sent to educate 30 Senators on the need to protect government employees who speak out about government prohibited personnel practices. The mirror I look at these days provides a reflection of a happier, more empowered woman.  The Mental Health Ward was a lesson that I needed to find personal growth and accountability for my own life.  Life is very good these days—I am now a government sub-contractor.  Yes—a consulting company hired me so I can continue to utilize my skills in the government and in the private sector. One day I am in the Mental Health ward and the three years later (to the day)—I am a workplace bullying and discrimination subject matter expert that is in great demand.  We must never give in to our fears, but keep our eyes on the prize.  Life has lessons, but they can bring out the greatest version of ourselves if we seize the opportunity to be accountable and see the “silver lining” in everything.

 

 

Five Tips to Honor MLK

21795142623_61033c702e_bTick tock…tick tock… time has turned into years and years have unfolded improvements that Martin Luther King was greatly responsible for in the mid-1960s.  The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act for African Americans changed the laws in America so there would be repercussions for discrimination of race or color.  So now we have a kinder and more equal social justice in the United States.  Ummmm…I don’t think so!!! The EEOC reported that there were over 31,000 charges of racial discrimination reported in 2015.  Senator John Lewis (D-GA) spoke out recently and tweeted, “We must never, ever give up the right to protest for what is right, what is good, and what is necessary.”  If we choose to strive for justice and a kinder world, I have five tips that honor the “great work” of Martin Luther King.

First, be a “light” and don’t meet evil or darkness on its level.  Fighting with people who are bullies or are acting badly will only bring your own spirit and your energy down.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” said Martin Luther King.  He strived for peace in non-violent ways. Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person.   Martin Luther King and his followers began to boycott the Montgomery bus public transit system in Alabama.  It was a huge success because most of the bus riders were African American and the boycott created an enormous financial deficit for the company.  Consider how you can make a non-violent action to stand up to injustice. For example, I speak, write, mentor, and I am a 27-year HR expert on workplace bullying and discrimination.  I do this in a compelling manner, but the tone of my actions is non-violent.

Second, learn as much as you can about discrimination so you can become more empowered and educated. Unfortunately, workplace bullying is not illegal, but discrimination is illegal.  With the exception that “retaliation” for reporting discrimination is illegal if a person has initiated discrimination charges to an agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) has lost power over the years, today we have organized groups who have the ability to enforce civility in the workplace, but not enough is being done to fix hostile work environments. Why not foster your skills and learn more about your rights to a safe and non-hostile work environment in my blog articles on my website.

Third, if you are enduring harmful behavior from others or you need help to speak your “truth,” why not find a mentor, spiritual leader or a life coach to support you.  I wrote an article, “Five Tips Before You Hire a Life Coach” to share guidance in finding ethical and competent Life Coaches.

Fourth, consider seeking legal counsel if you have questions about discrimination because of your race, color, sexual orientation, age, pregnancy, national origin, you are over 40 years old, gender identity, disabilities, genetic information or religion.  For about $20.00 a month, you can seek a lawyer’s advice at Legal Shield.  That is less than the cost of going out to dinner for most people.    An HR professional with expertise in workplace bullying and discrimination may become an essential expert to help you.  When an employee understands their “rights,” they can pursue justice or a fair outcome.   An experienced HR consultant could possibly save you a lot of money by avoiding costly legal fees.  Don’t get me wrong—employment attorneys can be powerful allies, but they will most likely charge more in fees.  I am suggesting that you do seek an attorney if you feel compelled to do so, but why not let an HR consultant support you at a lower cost?   Then you can reach out to an employee attorney later on if needed.

Fifth, be an advocate for social justice and fair treatment of others.  For example, a friend of mine recently saw a Caucasian man castigating an African American woman after she walked out of a grocery store.  He yelled derogatory comments at this lady accusing her of being lazy and that she should not be a drain on society.  Perhaps this woman needed to be on food stamps to support her family.  My friend saw the need to intervene and acted like she knew this woman.  This discouraged the angry man who walked away to his vehicle.  Thanks to my friend, this woman was able to get to her car with her children, with only tears running down her face.  There is no telling what could have happened if there had been no intervention to help this lady get to her car with the assurance that someone cared about her.

There are many ways to honor the late Martin Luther King.  We can all be “extensions” of his advocacy to end discrimination and make this a better world.  Think of ways that you can help positively eliminate injustice and take action.  Follow me on Facebook where I share tips to stand up to workplace bullying and discrimination to executive teams, global leaders, political teams, government leaders, attorneys, mental health professionals, and employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Tips Before Hiring a Life Coach

Dawn breaking her chainThere may come a time that you want to hire a Life Coach to “break-through” some barriers in your life or to help you gain clarity on an issue. Hiring a Life Coach can be very beneficial in your personal life and business. There are many coaches out there—some with lots of training and some who have taken a weekend course.  Some have had no training at all.  There are coaches out there that you would not want to spend even five minutes with because they are not truly a “coach”.

Coaching has many potential benefits if you find the right Life Coach. Here are just a few:

  • Achievement of your personal and professional goals
  • Breaking through “blocks” or “perceived limitations” you may have
  • Organization, focus, and achievement of goals
  • Improved personal empowerment and “personal power.”
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Healthier boundaries with others in your life
  • More confidence and self-esteem
  • Higher energy and well-being
  • Realization of your “gifts” and talents and how to use them

How do you “differentiate” all the coaches out there? There are many coaches out there, and they are not equal regarding results. Life Coaching is a transformative process, where your results are driven by your efforts, relating to your personal goals. Working with a Life Coach may require regularly scheduled meetings with a coach while providing self-awareness and accountability. So, how do you find the “right” coach for yourself?

First, be sure you know what you want to achieve in hiring a Life Coach. For example, you may want to overcome “fears” of moving forward in your life, so you will want to hire a coach that can help with “transformation.”   Many coaches have “niches, ” and that helps to define their best type of client, with the work that they do as a coach. As a “Personal Power” coach, I like to work with clients who want to find their voice, strength, and personal power.   Many of my clients have dealt with some type of abuse or bullying, and they want to “break-through” their feelings of being a victim or feeling “small” in their lives.

Second, be sure to research the coach you are thinking of hiring. Not all Life Coaches are equal.   Some are well-trained, and some are just calling themselves a Life Coach.   Unfortunately, there are no mandated laws on Life Coaching.   Fancy marketing and a great website do not equate to a reputable Life Coach.   Ask them if you can contact one of their former clients and be sure to trust your feelings when researching Life Coaches.   If you have a consultation with a Life Coach, be sure that you are not being coerced to work with them.   Some Life Coaches are well-trained in the “art” of closing the sale with a potential client.   Life Coaches should never manipulate or bully someone to work with them. Again—trust your “gut” and think twice about working with them if you feel “pushed” to work with someone.   Also, just because they are successful, does not mean they can make you successful if they are not the “right” coach for you.

Third, a Life Coach is supposed to help you with your transformation or achieving your goals. It’s about your agenda—not theirs.   While they may see things differently than you do, they should allow the natural developing your self-awareness and personal growth to unfold.   They should never tell you what your next step is or control the coaching process with their agenda. Your agenda or goals should always come first.

Fourth, a Life Coach may ask you to sign a contract to work with them. This is a professional contract between you and the Life Coach. They may also want to sell you a month or three-month package too.   Don’t be afraid to ask if you can pay for one session and see if this Life Coach is a “good fit” for you. In some cases, it will take more than one session to help you to achieve your goal(s).   You want to be mindful of your investment in yourself and finding the “right” Life Coach for your needs.

Fifth, keep in mind when hiring a Life Coach and if it does not work out, that you “should” ask to stop the services between you and the Life Coach. Be prepared that the Life Coach may not want to let you out of the contract, but an “ethical” Life Coach will want what is best for you and most likely will allow you to “break” the contract. The bottom line is that you want “positive” results when working with a Life Coach.   There is nothing worse than paying a Life Coach and feeling resentful for less than desirable results. Even I have hired Life Coaches that promised the “moon and stars” and seriously “under delivered.”

I learned quickly to discern on hiring others for their services. I learned from my mistakes and will never repeat the lessons I learned in hiring someone on a “whim.”   Yes, I did see some “red flags” and ignored them and received some expensive, valuable lessons on this matter. Life Coaches can be your biggest strength in pursuing a positive “transformation” and getting the desired results you want, and it can also be expensive, but worth it.  So, be sure to ask a Life Coach what ethics they operate by if you are thinking of hiring them.  For example, the coaching program I attended (iPEC) has adopted these ethics:  https://ipecollaborative.org/uploads/IP-Collaborative-Practice-Core-Competencies.pdf

Empower yourself and make wise decisions–it’s your right to have a wonderful life.

 

How to Find Strength When You are Being Abused

Dawn and the TreeHave you ever noticed a newly planted tree that has been staked by a landscaper?  You may think that the stakes will support the tree in the event of heavy winds.  In most cases, the newly planted trees do not need to be staked.  It’s an unnecessary “extra” step that some landscapers perform.  Unless the tree is super “top heavy”, most newly planted trees do not need staking.  Why?

Trees have a hormone called “auxin”, which helps play a key role in the direction of a plants growth. When a plant is staked, it can affect the caliper and taper of a plant—basically it can affect the tree’s growth.    Where am I going with this?  I like to compare “growth” of humans and trees because both share one thing—strength through adversity.  I am also a horticulturist and love plants/people.

When the winds blow the trees around, the trees are busy producing Auxin hormones to help it become stronger.  As humans, you can also become stronger if you look at your negative experiences and conquer the “lessons”.    Discern on the “gift” each lesson gave you.  Do you need to love yourself more?  Show yourself more respect? Set healthier boundaries in your life?

You become more empowered when you see the negative “patterns” in your life that are repeating themselves over and over.  Perhaps you are attracting more people in your life that treat you badly or you always make bad decisions.  Most scientists and others will tell you that everything is “energy”.   Like energy attracts “like” energy.  Pay attention to the thoughts in your head.  Up to 90% of your belief system is in your subconscious.  You may have learned to give and give to others (with no boundaries) until it hurt, from a parent.  Perhaps you were told you would not amount to anything in life because a parent was using “reverse psychology” to motivate you.

Without realizing it, today, you are attracting “patterns” of lessons you need to master for your own growth.  Yes—they can be very painful.  Who wants to be mistreated?  No one.  It’s up to you to take 100% responsibility for your life.  When you take responsibility to get the help you need—your life can change for the better.  Let me share a story with you.  I was in a long-term alcoholic relationship 20 years ago.  I went to an open AA meeting for help and noticed everyone was very happy and smiling.  But, I felt broken and could not handle all the emotions in this small room.  I quickly ran out and ended up in a large cleaning closet in this building.  Closing the closet door behind me, I was mortified and began crying.

First, I could not escape the “happy” people and second, I was in a cleaning closet for crying out loud!  I heard the message, “you belong in that meeting room” and I slowly walked back in that room for the moral support I needed.  Everyone pretended they did not see me in the cleaning closet.   I realized I had a long way to go to help myself become healthier and whole again.  I had become “sicker” than the narcissistic alcoholic and needed help.

I was dealing with a narcissistic alcoholic in my life who nearly killed me in his “blackouts”.  I had fought him off me many times and I knew he would kill me if I did not get help.  He was very strong and it took all my energy to fight him off me.  He was in denial.   I was truly “sick” and it was affecting the quality of my life.  Working 12 – 14 hours daily was my escape from this madness.  I became a big “overachiever” in the Air Force.  It was my escape.

After the open AA meeting, one of the scruffiest men I had ever met in my life, asked me to follow him to his house to meet his wife.  There was something about that man that made me trust him.  I followed behind his old beaten up car.  Suspecting we were about to arrive at a trailer park, I mentally told myself it would be alright.  The house I arrived at was a multi-million dollar home at Mexico Beach in North Florida.  I put my hands over my face in disgrace and embarrassment again.  I had gotten another good lesson in one evening.  Never judge a book by its cover. This man was not only very wise—he was very wealthy too.

This beautiful home was the house I passed every day while walking on the beach.  I had found solitude and grounding in walking in the sand and breathing the salt air.

Well, the scruffy man who came to my rescue was a retired Army helicopter pilot and his wife was an accomplished author.  Lessons!  I tell you.  When you ask for help, whether through praying or with intention, you will get what you need, but not always how you expect it to come.

I only had a few months with this man and the open AA group as I was in the Air Force and about to transfer to the Black Hills in South Dakota.   I was open to helping myself and it came in a peculiar way.  Be open to getting the help you deserve.  Take 100% accountability in becoming healthier and happier in your life.  Claim your personal power by breaking the patterns of negativity in your life.  Slow down and listen to your “inner knowing” that is telling you he or she is not the “right one”.  Trust the gut-feeling that you should walk away from a situation that will dis-empower you. Say “no” to narcissistic people and keep walking to a more healthy and empowered life.  Get professional help if you need it.  You will find a way to afford it or you can reach out to www.211.org, which is a United Way program that offers many resources in each state that can support you on your journey.  You deserve to healthy and happy!

If you need consulting or coaching to support you becoming healthier and more empowered–reach out to me at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

Prozac or a Life Coach?

Dawn at her birthday party!If you had the choice, would you choose to take Prozac for “mild” depression or would you hire a Life Coach?  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability.  When it comes to what creates depression, you may want to consider the benefits of Prozac or any other mind-altering pharmaceutical or what paybacks you will get from working with a Life Coach.

It’s important to listen to your doctor and follow sage advice.  If you are dealing with depression—you may need pharmaceutical medicine to manage your depression. It may help you to find “stability” in your life or to find a way to cope with your depression. But—what if you could see how you have created your depression through hiring a Life Coach?  Sometimes you need another person to show you how you have become your own “worst bully” in your life.

For example, if you allow others to mistreat your or disrespect you, this could be causing you to have depression.  Working with a Life Coach who is well-suited to support your needs and goals can help you to “break” some habits that aren’t for you highest good.  See my blog on hiring the right Life coach:  http://dawnmariewestmoreland.com/2015/09/27/five-tips-before-hiring-a-life-coach/

If you have allowed yourself to be bullied by others, your self-esteem and self-love may be at an all-time low.  No one wants to be bullied.  It’s plain awful.   Often times, bullies target people who they feel are weak and easy to bully.   The harm—mental and physical can put you in a state of mind that is hard to overcome.  Every person feels their story is powerful to them.  Their perception is real to them.

One out of four women has been sexually molested, while one out of six men has experienced this also according to “Our Voice”, which is a non-profit organization in Asheville, NC that serves sexual assault abuse through counseling, advocacy, and education.  If you have experienced sexual abuse and have not been able to heal from it, you may be feeling insecure, have low self-esteem or self-love.   You may not mix well with others or you tend to be quieter than others.  Workplace bullies pick up on these tendencies and prey on those who they think are weak.

What if you could learn to love and respect yourself?  Chances are that you would have “healthier boundaries” with others.  You may learn how to be an “observer”, instead of an “absorber” when you deal with narcissistic bullies in the workplace.  Learning how to be a non-player in other people’s drama is very empowering and liberating.  Sometimes the greatest teachers are the narcissistic bully.

You can learn how to stand up to workplace bullying and you can find that with the right Life Coach. You will never find it by taking Prozac.  Now, don’t get me wrong—there is no “shame” in taking care of yourself and being on medication if you really need it.  Please make sound decisions when dealing with your health and well-being.  Listen to your doctor.

However, if you don’t learn how to set healthy boundaries in your life and to truly love yourself, you will probably be dealing with negative circumstances, over and over in your life.  It’s time to set yourself free from your “old stories”.  It’s time to own your “stories”, instead of your stories “owning” you.   Consider working with a Life Coach and learn how you can break your “chains” of dis-empowerment and live a better life.

Many Life Coaches have been in your “shoes” before and that is why they are attracted to helping others who have similar circumstances as they have in their life.   Some Life Coaches have worked on themselves and improved their own self-development before reaching out to help others.  There is nothing like being stuck in the “mud” and then overcoming the circumstances.

If you can learn how to become empowered, it’s like being taught how to fish.  Instead of someone giving you fish to eat, you learn to catch your own fish.  You become independent and trust yourself.  You get the point.  Claiming your personal power means holding yourself accountable to make wiser decisions and to get the help you deserve.  Many of the famous spiritual leaders in our world have gone through massive “transformations” to become who they are today.  They have been badly abused, they have overcome, and today, they are teaching others how to overcome.

In wrapping up, discern on which side of empowerment you want to be on—the side that keeps you weak and unhappy or the side that allows you to be the greatest version of you?  I hope you choose happiness and being empowered because you deserve it.

If you want more tips on standing up to workplace bullying and empowerment, check out www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com and be sure to follow Dawn Marie Westmoreland on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HealingThymeSvcs You will learn how Dawn became a successful government “whistleblower” through her story and how she is helping to empower others to stand up to workplace bullying as a national speaker, author, coach and HR consultant.

Dos and Don’ts on Social Media When You are Being Bullied at Work

Dawn empowered on the bridgeIt feels great to share your concerns or your victories on social media. It can feel gratifying to get approval or “likes” on your posts.  But—can your social media posts backfire on you?  Yes, they can.  If you are venting about your workplace bullying and using a person’s name, you could be committing defamation of character.  According to http://thelawdictionary.org/article/how-do-you-prove-a-defamation-of-character-claim/:

 Slander and Libel

“There are two different types of defamation of character. The first is when someone verbally says a false statement about you. This is referred to as slander. The second is when someone writes down or publishes a false statement about you. This is referred to as libel.

The Final Step

Once you have proven to the court of law that the statement made against you was, in fact, false the last step is proving that the statement caused some form of damage to you or your reputation. Most lawyers are going to tell you that despite being the last step in the process proving that a statement has caused you harm is the most difficult part of the process. First of all, there is a clear different between a statement having the potential to cause you problems and the statement actually causing you problems. It is only considered defamation of character if the statement has actually caused you harm, not if it has the potential to cause you harm.

In order to win the claim, you are going to need to prove that the false statement has always ruined your reputation. If you are a business owner, for example, you would need to prove how the statement has had a devastating impact on your business. The unfortunate truth is that this does mean you will have to wait for the false statement to cause problems in order for the court to take action against them”.

Everyone has “rights” and if you “verbalize” or “publish” derogatory comments about another person, you could end up with a liability suit against you.  This could get very “sticky” as you will have to prove your comments as being “true”.  This could have the potential to tie you up in court and legal fees for years.  Is it worth it? Most people who are dealing with workplace bullying need an outlet to express their concerns and seek guidance from others who are experiencing the same issues.

A safer way to join a Facebook group that supports people who deal with workplace bullying is to make up a fake (pseudo name). I recommend never using another person’s name in your posts or comments, but discussing your issue in “general terms”.  If you join a Facebook group under your “real name”, be careful with what you post.  Keep out names and circumstances that could be “used” against you if it falls into the wrong hands.  There are cases where the bully or their attorney has compiled social media posts to use against the “bullied”.  It would not serve you for your highest good to have the “other side” to have ammunition to use against you.

Documentation that presents compelling evidence can be very powerful.  If you have made social media posts that could be potentially damaging to you if it gets in the right hands, do your best to delete these posts right away.

There is no way that a Facebook administrator, who is in charge of a Facebook group will be able to know who is the “bully” or “bullied” in their groups.  Anyone can request to join a Facebook group or Twitter group.  Always be careful and If you have a court hearing or an Equal Employment Opportunity Community (EEOC) hearing, the “bully” or attorneys representing the bully may attempt to find a way to access your social media to see if they can find “evidence” or posts that could help them “leverage” control over you.  For example, if you are pursuing an EEO hearing, you have signed a “statement” that you cannot discuss your case, except with certain professionals.  Your case can be thrown out by the EEOC because you “discussed” your case with others that don’t fall under the criteria of the EEOC.

For example, if you are pursuing an EEO hearing, you have signed a “statement” that you cannot discuss your case, except with certain professionals.  Your case can be thrown out by the EEOC because you “discussed” your case with others that don’t fall under the criteria of the EEOC.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have made defamatory remarks about a bully.  Just be mindful in the future and protect yourself.  You never want a bully to hold “power” over you, especially if you can prevent it.  Reach out to resources that can help or encourage you.  Be mindful of social media groups or any group individuals that focus only on the “negativity” of their situation.  Everyone’s story is powerful to them.  The caution you must take is to be mindful of each person’s contribution to the group.  Are they positive or negative?

It is very cathartic (healing) to share how you feel about your bullying situation.  However, some people will not make the effort to improve their situation.  They will wallow in their sorrow because they appreciate the “pity” attention they receive. Some of them will complain and spew negativity, but they will do nothing to help themselves become empowered.   I think most people want to become empowered and want to know how to stand up to workplace bullying.  Pay attention to the people you surround yourself with because their “energy” will rub off on you.

Last, reach out to support groups or create your own ones so you can get the help your need and the support you deserve.  Be smart and remember, “You are always on Parade”.  You are observed by people who are visible and not visible in your life.  The best revenge for workplace bullying is living well and succeeding in life.

If you need help with your own workplace bullying or discrimination matter—you can find resources on my website at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

Courage is Your Best Dressed “Asset” Ladies—Three Tips to Empower You

Tip #9                                                        I recently attended an event where makeup and the dress were touted as the route to empowerment and success. I call B.S. on it! I firmly believe that looking good is very important to our self-esteem, but at the end of the day it comes off and we are left with our naked self. We can rely on the “trappings” of makeup, undergarments that make us look better and beautiful clothes, but they only serve us for a while.

What is important is our thoughts, which form our belief system. How do we really feel inside? Are we making progress in our lives? If we are depending on our looks to get us to where we want to go in our lives—we are missing the mark and shortchanging ourselves. It’s courage to live the life we want that is empowering. Let me share three tips with you about how courage can move your forward in your life.

First, if you are working in a job where you are disrespected and not valued for your skills sets, it’s time to revalue you’re your belief system. If you think that you can never find another job that will pay as much or offers the same benefits, you are mistaken. There are many jobs that can be a better “fit” for you. If you are being bullied in the workplace or feel uncomfortable in your job, that may be the “push” to find a better job. Don’t listen to your “inner voice” that may try to tell you to play “safe”. Listen to your “higher knowing” that knows you were put on this earth for a reason and to share your gifts with others who are trying to find you.

If you need to get more skills, go back to school or take an evening course at your local college. Just don’t settle for the status quo and feel you should be grateful to have the job you are in if it’s unfulfilling or hostile. Know that you probably have many talents and skills that you have yet to use in the workforce. Tap into them and take action to find a better job for you.
Second, women are taking over when it comes to being an entrepreneur. We are stepping up in the world! Look around you—I bet you see it too.

Maybe you want to work for yourself or you have an idea that you would like to take further. According to http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247767 the U.S. ranks No. 1 on the list as the best place for women entrepreneurs due to its overall favorable business environment and women’s job mobility in the private sector, it scored a 71 on a 100-point scale. It’s ok to feel scared. There is no shame in being fearful. Feel the “fear” and move through it. Find a support team or a cheerleader who is on your side. All women have fears, you get to choose what side of fear you want to be on—the dis-empowered side or the empowered side.

Hire a start-up business coach or go to an organization like SCORE. This organization gives free business advice as men and women who have run highly successful businesses and want to impart their knowledge to help others succeed as entrepreneurs.

Third, whether you want to find a better job or become an entrepreneur, it takes money to pay our bills and to grow in business. If you don’t have a savings account with enough money in it to fuel your dreams, it may be time to reconsider where your money is being spent. You may have to cut back on purchasing Starbucks coffee, the nail manicures, excess clothes buying etc. It’s when we conscientiously invest in ourselves that we are able to become more educated and self-evolve in our lives.

You will have naysayers in your life who will try to tell you how to live your life and to be grateful for the miserable job you may be in at this time. Ignore them. Find the strength in you to have the courage and walk away or ignore these people who are afraid to live the great life they could be living if they would tap into their own courage. Not everyone is going to understand why you left your old job or why you became an entrepreneur. The bottom line is that we are all entitled to live our lives fully and with great joy.

Dawn Marie Westmoreland is a workplace anti-bullying speaker, coach, author, and HR consultant. She has been featured in the Christian Science Monitor for alerting government officials of illegal activities in her former workplace and for empowering others who deal with workplace bullying. You can listen to her on radio, where she has been featured on over 50 radio shows as a guest.  She also became a #1 best-selling co-author for “The Strength of My Soul” anthology book, which is about 27 women overcoming their hardships and who are now living empowered and happier lives. To learn more about her services, check out DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

TSOMS with #1 ranking

Are You Being Bullied at Work? Should you go to HR for Help?

 

HR

 

If you are being bullied in the workplace—should you go to Human Resources (HR) for help? Yes and No.  The HR department may be part of your management when it comes to work hierarchy.  If you have an HR department where you work, it may be an “internal” work requirement to seek an HR expert’s assistance in dealing with discrimination or bullying.  BUT—are they there to support you in your time of need?  I am going to share some information to enlighten you.  I can do that—I am an HR expert who spent 22 years in the career field and I am still advising people as an HR consultant.  Here are three tips on seeking HR’s assistance:

First, if your HR department is part of the management of where you work, you must understand that the HR representative may be required to share the information you shared with them, to the director or top manager in your company.  That manager will want to know if there is dissension in the workplace.  If your agency is in the civilian sector, the cost, time, and energy spent on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) matters or other agencies could destroy or cost the company much embarrassment.  Settlement fees or court costs will likely come out of the company owner’s pocket.  If it’s a government agency, there are still issues of money and time, but “settlement” comes out of the tax payer’s pocket.  An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) case like the one I had for discrimination and later retaliation/bullying, can easily cost over $150k.

Second, an HR expert in your workplace may purposely try to down-play your accusations of discrimination or bullying because they know how serious the matter can become.  They may turn-it-around on you and state comments that make you fear that you may lose your job over your concerns.  Instead of relying on HR to be your subject matter expert (SME), why not learn everything you can about your rights at your workplace.  You can research policies and laws that would apply in your case.  If this is not for you—consider hiring a professional expert to help you with your matter.  If lack of money is an issue, you may qualify for pro bono assistance from an attorney.  Here is a good site to check out: https://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/probono/directory.html

Third, if you file charges against your company or agency, you may face retaliation that can come in many forms.  If your HR expert is aware that you are being harassed or retaliated against because you reported someone in your workforce, they may be told to help support management by keeping you in the “dark” about your rights.  They may even be “involved” in attempts to fire you, discredit you, or defame you.  I filed charges of “nepotism” (Illegal hiring of family or friends by management) to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in Washington D.C.  I had seen numerous managers hiring their family and friends in the Veteran Affairs.  It’s illegal and happens all the time.  It’s no wonder the Veteran Affairs is cited negatively in the news these days.

One of the many charges I filed was an HR employee hiring their grandchild to work for the Veteran Affairs for a summer program for college students.  No announcement had gone out at this time about summer hiring of temporary employees.   This HR employee knew this was a government prohibited personnel practice, but made a choice to ignore mandatory government laws and policies.  There was no turning to this HR employee for help when attempts were made to fire me with illegal allegations, that later proved to be false.

I want to wrap this up that there are many good HR employees out there and many that care about your circumstances.  You may never know if they truly want to help you if they don’t give you the support you need and deserve.  Sometimes, their hands are tied by the management in your workplace.  When I first began working in the Veteran Affairs in HR, I was told that I worked for management and I had to always put management first in all matters.  Think on that one.  I made some managers angry when I told VA employees their rights about Family Medical Leave Act matters and other personnel matters that they were entitled to by law.  Why?  Because some of the managers wanted to keep their employees in the “dark” about their rights and entitlements.  Very sad.  Those managers were fully utilizing their entitlements and wanting to control their employees through fear and manipulation.  The greatest joy in the world to me is to see someone stand up to workplace bullying and know their rights.

If you find yourself confused, dis-empowered or wanting to know more about your rights, be sure to check out my website at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com  You have the right to be treated with respect in your workplace and to know your rights as an employee.

Workplace Bullying Scare Tactics–Three Tips to Empower You

I talked to a former government employee recently who thought she had “stacked evidence” of disciplinary violations against her from her managers. After talking to this employee, it turns out that her management had set up strategies to scare her as a “whistleblower”. Often times, bully managers will make up “false charges” on an employee to scare them, run them away from their job or discredit them.  BullyWhen you are a conscientious “whistleblower”, you can almost expect retaliation because it exposes the wrong-doer.

Most employees are not HR employees and they don’t know the guidelines, laws, and protocols that support a healthy workplace environment or their rights as an employee.  I was smiling on my end of the phone–because everything was handled in a very unprofessional manner from her managers and from an HR perspective–this employee had nothing to worry about in regards to disciplinary action. In fact–she now had my HR advice to support defamation of character on her part and mental/physical harm that has been done to her.  It’s nice to “arm” employees and teach them their “rights” so they can stand up to workplace bullying. This employee will be working with an attorney and was feeling more empowered after our session.

So, how do you know how to transmute “false charges”’ against you if you have been bullied in the workplace or you are receiving retaliation because you are a “whistleblower”?  Here are three tips:

First, if you know how to research your work’s policies, guidelines, manuals, handbooks etc., start studying them to learn more about your rights.  For example, if you work in the Veteran Affairs (VA), you could research the VA’s handbooks and directives by going to http://www.va.gov/vapubs/  or you could research it on the web by looking for information that governs your workplace.

If you work for the Veteran Affairs, you can research disciplinary action for employees.  You may find information such as the VA disciplinary table, it falls under VA Handbook 5021/15 and is called “Employee/Management Relations”.  Why could this table be important to you?  Because it tells you all the disciplinary range of penalties for stated offenses.  This is important, because if you have been charged with something that is not on this table, you have knowledge of possibly being falsely charged with an offense.

If you have been falsely charged with an offense that is on this table, you can cite this table and the nature of offense when you work with an attorney, HR expert or another professional.  You may be able to use this as proof of bullying or retaliation, especially if you have filed charges against your workplace with the Office of Special Counsel (www.osc.gov) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (www.EEOC.gov).

Second, if you don’t have the time or the energy to do your own research on regulations etc., consider hiring a human resources (HR) professional if you are getting nowhere with your own HR department or there is no HR department where you work.  The money you may save by hiring an HR expert could offset the emotional and financial damage of your workplace bullying situation.  You can also hire an attorney and I would recommend it if you feel the need to hire a legal expert.  Often times, the HR expert will cost less money than an attorney.  In addition, they are able to provide an HR technical review of your workplace bullying situation.  The HR expert is able to review and analyze the facts and documentation you have in regards to your situation.  When I hired my attorney to handle my disability discrimination and retaliation cases, I was able to provide him with great documentation, that ultimately allowed me to settle with the VA and refuse to sign a “gag order” to keep quiet about my story and to help others who deal with workplace bullying.

Third, when you deal with cowardly bullies, they may be desperate to defame you, fire you, or ruin your credibility. It does not matter how strong you think you are—everyone has a breaking point and bullies will do their best to find the weak link in your defenses.  It can take a serious toll on your health.  It’s important to find avenues of relaxation that resonate with you.  You need to focus on everything that is good in your life.  When your mind wanders on any negativity, be sure to bring it back to “neutral” or a more positive thought. Our thoughts form our belief system.  You are worthy of claiming your “personal power” and having a healthy work environment.

In 2016, I will be traveling across the U.S. and speaking about workplace bullying and empowerment in the workplace.  If your organization would like to hire me for speaking, be sure to check out:  http://dawnmariewestmoreland.com/speaking