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.

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



What would Martin Luther King Want Us To Do?

I often think of the great heroes like Martin Luther King who thought more of others than himself.  It takes a lot of guts to stand up against injustice of any kind.  He made a huge difference and he helped the blacks with the right to vote and be heard.  Can you imagine what today would be like if he did not protest in a peaceful way for equality and justice?  When you shed “light” on a dark matter it can bring awareness and positive change to the matter.  When we “b….h” and moan about how unfair things are, without doing anything about it, people suffer and so do we.  If you prefer to let someone else “fix” the problem, a part of you is giving away your own personal power.  It is truly healing and satisfying to help eradicate the darkness we see in our world.  If you know what your “gifts” are and use them properly, you can make a difference in making our planet a better place to live.

For example, one week after I settled with the Veteran Affairs for retaliation on me blowing the whistle on them, I began an extensive life coach training program.  As a military veteran, I qualified for the training to be paid by the VA Vocational Rehabilitation agency.  The VA Vocational Rehabilitation folks delayed approving my application and I ended up paying the 13k out of my pocket.   I was also required to take business training and complete an extensive business plan so I could become an entrepreneur and work for myself.  My case was excessively delayed and I was required to finish the business training/business plan before I could be reimbursed for my out of pocket costs.  I ended up attending life coach training and attending the business training at the same time.  This was utterly exhausting and draining on my mental and physical self.  It was a nightmare for me and put me in financial difficulty since I paid for the life coach training with money out of my pocket.

I ended up finishing the business training/business plan in Sept, but I was still not reimbursed for my out of pocket costs of around $13k.  Why am I telling you this story?  It’s not about me wanting pity or empathetic comments, it is about accountability for neglect, abandonment, and unprofessional behavior by an agency that was designed to help veterans.   The way to correct a problem is to shed “light” on it.  I contacted the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors Certification (CRCC) agency and reported the unethical behavior of my VA Vocational Rehabilitation case managers.  Since I have 22 years of HR experience, I learned a long time ago to keep great documentation when needed.  The CRCC board member told me that I should look at the one of their ethics rules, which states, “ABANDONMENT PROHIBITED. Rehabilitation counselors do not abandon or neglect clients in counseling. Rehabilitation counselors assist in making appropriate arrangements for the continuation of services when necessary (e.g., during interruptions such as vacations, illness, and following termination)”.

I am in the process of turning in documentation that will support my claims of violations of neglect, abandonment, and unprofessional behavior that were exhibited by my case managers.  It has been one year and I have still not been reimbursed by the VA Vocational Rehabilitation agency that I am assigned to in North Carolina. I share this story to encourage everyone to take “action” to shed “light” on matters that not only affect you, but also affect others.  I am grateful for my HR background, morals and strength that motivate me to stand up to injustice and make positive changes that will help others who don’t know how to stand up for themselves.  I challenge you to make a difference and put your own positive “dent” in this world.  That is the greatest gift to mankind and to ourselves.

“The time is always right, to do what is right”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

MLKDawn Marie Westmoreland is a speaker, writer, life coach, hypnotherapist on a mission to empower and motivate women who want to “overcome” their old stories.  Dawn began her advocacy  and empowerment journey after standing up to injustice in her former government work place.  She endured two years of horrific bullying and settled with the agency in March 2014.  Dawn can be contacted for interviews and speaking engagements at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com