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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.

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/

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

How Strong is the Soul After Workplace Bullying?

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

Sometimes we are unaware how strong and powerful we are on this earth. The picture of me looking exhausted and dis-empowered was taken two weeks after passing out in my workplace due to the stress of two years of workplace bullying.  My skin really was yellow back then and I had purple discoloration under my eyes at the time of this picture.  I ended up being taken to the Charles George VA Medical Center for treatment from the Midatlantic Consolidated Patient Accounting Center (MACPAC), which is the “revenue” agency within the Veteran Affairs. I had reported numerous managers for nepotism (illegal hiring of family and friends in the government by management) and other prohibited personnel matters. My management did everything they could to “break” me and to get me to quit my job, but I was determined to hold them accountable, which I did in March 2014. It was an “emotional victory” when I was able to refuse signing a “gag order” settlement that would keep me quiet and unable to share my story to help others who deal with workplace bullying.

Memories of all the “tactics” used to harm me, actually “liberated” me. If you are being bullied in the workplace, you also can become “liberated” too. I look back at all the false charges placed upon my character as I was on Administrative Leave for about 100 days, the wrongful denial of being given a medical Reasonable Accommodation as a severely disabled veteran, the hateful looks, and the denial of promotions, while management’s friends rose in their own promotion system, which was illegal. Reflecting back, I remember the man who called me on December 23, 2014 and told me he wanted to hire my healing services, but wanted no records and he would pay with cash. He asked me if I worked with gay people. That made me highly suspicious of this being a deceitful natured call. Who calls someone and asks if they work with “gay people”? I knew my Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) hearing was coming up in a couple of months and my “gut” was telling me that this call was not from a honest man. The entire call sounded like a “script” being read. Highly suspicious!

“Red flags” were coming up for me and I felt that this was no ordinary call. When I accepted the call and answered it, I had noticed it was from a “restricted’ caller, which denied me their phone number on my caller identification. While I listened to him, my intuition was also providing me with “insight” that this was not a normal call and he was up to something “shady”. I could even hear machinery in the background, which was common while I was waiting for my Equal Employment Opportunity hearing with the Administrative judge. I felt like the call was a “trap” of some kind and politely told the man that I did not feel that we were a good “fit” to work together and ended the call. Later 30 pages of my Facebook posts were entered into the “discovery” phase of the EEO process. All of my posts were positive and inspirational, which baffled my attorney and I. It appeared to me that desperate attempts were made to find something derogatory on me. That never happened. I had done no wrong.

When you deal with workplace bullying, you may experience a little or a lot of bullying. It really does not matter how much harm you receive–it’s how you perceive your own situation. Your thoughts form your belief system. Isn’t it time to evaluate if your belief system is supporting you for your highest good? Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath, and allow that breath to slowly be released, along with releasing old thought patterns that are keeping you trapped and small in your life.

You may be wondering how you can become liberated from workplace bullying. If you are a sensitive person, you may have a harder time working with aggressive workplace bullies. They sense that you are a “nice person” and according to statistics with the Workplace Bullying Institute, up to 37% of the people who are bullied in the workplace are targeted because they are compassionate and kind people. Often times, bullies perceive you as a “weak” person or an “easy target” to harass. Sometimes our “gifts” in our life come in ugly wrapping paper. The lesson or “gift” you may get out of bullying can help you to find comfort, healing, and owning your “personal power”. Let me explain. For me–I had to realize that the biggest bully was myself for thinking I was a “victim” during this time. That lesson propelled me forward to work on my own personal issues and become “free” from my past dis-empowerment. You may find that you get the “gift” of learning you need to set healthy boundaries in your life with all people or you may discover you need to work on having more self love and self respect. This give you the opportunity to discern on ways to “liberate” yourself and become happier in your life.

No matter how bad your situation is around workplace bullying, there is always an option you may never have thought about or an action you should take on your behalf. Keeping good records is always important. You can learn more about the importance and how to document at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ZrLOMccHg  Once you “liberate” yourself and stand in your power, you may move onto a better job where you are treated with respect or you may become an entrepreneur like myself. What ever you do–live your soul’s purpose with great joy!

p.s.  If you would like a complimentary 20 minute strategy session with me about workplace bullying.  Reach out and contact me at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

Dawn empowered on the bridge

What Government Employee Bullies Don’t Want You to Know

Dawn sitting on a rock in black and white

 

 

 

 

Let’s face it, depending on whose statistics you use, government workplace bullying is on the rise.  According to http://www.forbes.com/sites/naomishavin/2014/06/25/what-work-place-bullying-looks-like-in-2014-and-how-to-intervene/ “96% of American employees experience bullying in the workplace, and the nature of that bullying is changing”.   Workplace bullying creates a hostile workplace that is devoid of a safe and respectful work environment.  Bullied employees can hardly put out their best work when they are under so much stress. Then they may face disciplinary action because they are not working up to mandated work standards.  Talk about stress and feeling like a ‘victim’!  Holding government workplace bullies accountable can be hard, but I can make it a little easier for you. Let me share five tips for dealing with workplace bullying so you employ these tips and have a better outcome.

The first tip is to document your workplace bullying.  I created a video that explains it further at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ZrLOMccHg  This video explains the importance of why and how you should document workplace bullying.  I was able to ‘settle’ with the Veteran Affairs (VA) in March 2014 because I had ‘solid” documentation that supported my case of retaliation for being a VA “Whistleblower”.  Two days before my Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hearing, the VA attorneys were willing to ‘settle’ with me.  I won an emotional victory as I can now write and talk about my own bullying story to help others because I refused to sign a “gag-order” that would keep me from sharing my story.

Second, be mindful that most government Human Resource departments are part of management.  If you are being bullied by management, you are also addressing your bullying situation with your management.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of your organization’s structure.  Every government agency is required to have information on their bulletin boards such as job safety/health, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) information, etc., that comply with government requirements.  Here is more information on Equal Employment Opportunity rights:  http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/posters/pdf/eeopost.pdf  Be aware of your rights and who to contact if they are being violated.  For example, if you file a discrimination report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sex or genetics, you must file within 45 days of the occurrence or the claim may not be accepted.

Third, federal laws prohibit covered entities from retaliating against a person who files a charge of discrimination, participates in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposes an unlawful employment practice.  If you have filed an EEO case or have submitted prohibited personnel information to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and receive retaliation from your workplace, you are entitled to report the alleged allegations within 45 days for retaliation of you filing a grievance. Often times, the retaliation case may be combined with your initial reported case, for ease of processing and time guidelines. Be sure to report each occurrence of retaliation within 45 days or it may not be accepted.  Note:  Winning a discrimination case can be tough, however, if you are retaliated against and have good evidence or documentation, you may end up winning or settling on your ‘retaliation’ case because you are in a ‘protected status’ for filing your claim.

Fourth, often times there is very little disciplinary action done against government perpetrators. For example, the Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has taken action to employ accountability in the Veteran Affairs and a new law was passed according to http://cv4a.org/cva-applauds-house-passage-va-accountability-act/ however, there does not seem to be a lot of accountability in regards to removing employees who meet disciplinary action mandates.   If you decide to ‘settle’ with the government agency you work in, you may consider not signing a “gag order” that keeps you legally from discussing your case with others. Who knows—you may want to write a book or share your story to help others who deal with government workplace bullying. If you have kept great documentation records, you may want to hold your ‘ground’ and refuse to sign a ‘gag order’ settlement agreement that most government attorneys will want you to sign.  Remember—it’s negotiable, but you must have the courage, documentation, and the willpower to demand it.

Fifth, workplace bullying takes a toll on your mental and physical health.   You must find balance, peace, and positive distractions so that you can stand up to your bullies, demand your entitled rights, and own your personal power.  It’s imperative to find a modality that helps you manage your stress.  You may find great relaxation with yoga, deep breathing exercises, meditation or another modality that resonates with you.  Also, learning how to empower yourself is one of the best ways to step up and own your ‘personal power’.  Find a coach, mentor, clergy member or someone that can help you to find your own confidence and empowerment that is within you.  Claiming your ‘personal power’ and becoming empowered is the greatest revenge of all when it comes to workplace bullying in the government.

P.S.  Did you know you can request a complimentary 20 minute “find your voice/strength here:  Get Advice or Coaching  As an anti-bullying speaker, author, coach, and HR consultant, I am able to help others stand up to workplace bullying.

 

The Formula for Recovering From Workplace Bullying

dawns-book-cover

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