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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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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