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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.

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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/

 

 

The Formula for Recovering From Workplace Bullying

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You hear about it and read about it in the media, all the time. Workplace bullying is increasing according to who is keeping statistics. It’s a known fact that the damage to the ‘victim’ is harmful and creates many hardships for the ‘bullied’ and their loved ones. When I became a Veteran Affairs (VA) Whistle-blower, I alleged nepotism (illegal hiring of family and friends) and other prohibited personnel practices. I turned in numerous personnel and was retaliated for my actions. I was put on administrative leave for about 100 days, denied the right to seek medical care as a severely disabled veteran, I landed in the Mental Health ward after two years of horrific bullying, and my paycheck was cut-off when I refused to go back to a hostile work environment. This created a financial hardship and my whole economic portrait was much compromised. The life I knew was changed in a short time.  I also experienced having poor credit to boot because I could not afford my large house that I had worked so hard for and cherished.

Losing my old ‘self” was the greatest thing that has happened to me. Back in those days, I “bought into” the victim role. I felt very unsafe and insecure with myself.  These days, I often pass the road that would take me to my former job location. I smile each time and then I say ‘thank you” to the bullies who tried to break me and destroy my reputation.   For if it was not for my former bullies, I may not be as liberated as I am today.   My bullies were awesome teachers! I had to work on myself to get this far with my ‘liberation’. I have deep gratification for my workplace bullying experience. Sometimes our ‘gifts’ come in ugly wrapping paper. That’s exactly what happed in my case. Let me share three tips of how I claimed my ‘personal power’.

First, you get to decide if you are going to be a ‘victim’ of your workplace bullying. You may never get the results you think you want from workplace bullying, but you may get what you need to be happier. For example, if you end up leaving the job, you may find a more respectful position or even strive to be an entrepreneur. I have never been happier to work for myself and I love my boss! Sometimes it seems scary to leave a job you are comfortable with and have known for years. When you are striving to do your soul’s purpose on this earth, you may get an uncomfortable nudge to move forward and get in alignment with the work you should be doing–the work you love and can’t wait to do because it feels so ‘alive’.

Second, look at your experience as a lesson. What did you learn from it? Did you learn that you need to have more confidence or standup for your rights? Was the job or the position a ‘bad fit’? Perhaps you learned that you need to value yourself more and work in a job that is better suited for you. There are always lessons in each of our experiences. I believe we get to learn some great lessons from our bullies. They can teach us so much about ourselves and what we need to do to have a better life. Yes—they may make you anxious and depressed with their actions, but you can decide to not be a ‘victim’ and take all the appropriate action you need to stand up to them, leave the work place or find a solution that makes you happier.  Maybe you learned that you needed to learn how to get empowered and stop relying on unnecessary anti-anxiety or anti-depressant pills. NOTE: Always follow your doctor’s advice on medical care.

Third, bullying can take a serious toll on your confidence and self-esteem. You have to understand that you must believe in yourself more than others believe in you. No one can breathe confidence in you. There are many modalities out there that will help you find peace, confidence, and help you to find your own intuitive ‘gifts’.   You may find that exercising, receiving energy work, reading self-help books, taking empowerment courses or seeking reputable help from a coach, counselor or clergy member to be highly beneficial in helping you to heal. This will take some time, but it is so worth it! When you conscientiously invest in your own well-being, you will get results. I wrote a blog, “Five Tips Before Hiring a Life Coach” at Five Tips to Hire the Right Life Coach   Invest in yourself and also be gentle on yourself. Sometimes our worst bullies can be ourselves if we ‘beat up’ on ourselves. Another thing—if you are spending money on things that don’t empower you, that can back fire on you.   I know of a lady that spends endless money on clothes, trips and fun things that she enjoys. While there is nothing wrong with this, she complains she has no money to hire a coach/consultant for her own workplace bullying case. Hmmmmmm! Do you think her priorities are good ones or could she re-think her priorities? It’s sad, because she is being bullied for blowing the ‘whistle’ on her workplace, but could really benefit from an HR consultant or a coach that deals with workplace bullying. You always get to decide and make choices in your life. You must decide wisely or it may backfire on you.

If you need some help or advice, I have 22 years of Human Resources experience, a Masters in Management/Human Resources, I am retired from the United States Air Force, and I am regularly featured on the radio or in magazines for tips on overcoming ‘dis-empowerment’ and ‘workplace bullying’. Today, I am an anti-bullying speaker, personal power coach, author (Empowered Whistleblower: A Practical and Spiritual Path to Personal Power”, and an HR consultant.  I ‘settled’ with the Veteran Affairs in March 2014 and without a “gag-order” to keep me quiet and sharing my story to help others.  It bring me great pleasure to help empower people.  You can find out more about me at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

It’s Thyme to Engage with Your Plants

Garden Path in Arden-2-largePlants are our friends and they offer us healing and a form of meditation while spending time gardening or in a garden setting.  Horticultural Therapy is based on the mental, physical, and emotional healing that is possible from regular interaction with a garden.  It is successfully used in a variety of situations and is useful in helping many types of people; especially the elderly and those with physical limitations.  Therapy in the garden is also beneficial to those who are recovering from physical illness or have mental health problems.

Gardening provides aerobic, isometric and  isotonic exercise.  This benefits the muscles and bones, along with the cardiovascular  and respiratory systems.  Gardening is a great way to get in shape or stay in shape.  It provides endurance, strength and flexibility, which can help to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

According to http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/gardening-health, “The restorative benefits of nature, some experts now believe, can lower blood pressure, boost immune function, and reduce stress. And to reap these benefits, you don’t have to live in a mansion with a gardener. All that’s required is a love of flowers and a willingness to plant a few herbs or even to hang a beautiful poster depicting nature on your wall”.

Physical exercise in the garden releases endorphins, which assist in alleviating stress.  Numerous studies have shown that being present in a garden can help with lowering blood pressure.  This is highly beneficial in the hectic life styles we live in today.  A garden provides the opportunity to be in touch with ourselves and to enjoy the smells, sights and vibrational energetics of the trees and flowers.  We owe it to ourselves to find nourishment and meditation by gardening or spending time in a garden.  Many people enjoy transformational healing at different levels, while gardening.  Gardens can provide a great place to relax, unwind, contemplate and rejuvenate.

Dawn Westmoreland is a retired Air Force veteran, degreed horticulturist, and certified plant professional.  She has designed landscapes for the Ramble (Asheville, NC) and other properties in the greater Asheville, NC area, worked at Biltmore Estates in the Floral department and at Callaway Gardens (Pine Mountain, GA) as a Horticultural Educator, along with owning a landscape design/installation business in the Asheville, NC area.