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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The Appearance of Justice

Dec. 18, 2006
By Syndicated Columnist Cathy Harris
One of America’s deep, dark secrets is “workplace abuse.” Victims of discrimination are speaking out from all over the country.

There is a growing workplace battleground where a record number of employees are being fired, demoted and otherwise punished for speaking out against discrimination and harassment such as sexism, sexual harassment, sex and race discrimination, stalking, intimidation and other acts of workplace abuse.

We need to prepare to expose it. These abusive workplace managers (bully management) have no incentives to stop their abusive and hostile acts against their employees.

When one feels that they were treated unfairly in the workplace, the only choice they have is to file an “EEO complaint” also called a “discrimination complaint” also known as “workplace abuse.”

In the federal government, many know first-hand that the federal government, the EEOC (
www.eeoc.gov), the Office of Special Counsel (www.osc.gov), the Merit System Protection Board (www.mspb.gov) and the National Labor Relations Board (www.nlrb.gov) were all designed to provide the appearance of justice.

They were designed to “control” the federal government’s exposure to criticism by their employees. Without them, the federal government would appear to the world to be hypocrites. It might affect the federal government’s ability to “control” foreign and domestic policies.

The current laws were written to protect employees from workplace abuses, but the judges (EEOC, MSPB, and Federal Court) - ALL interpret the laws as if they were written to protect the agencies.

EEOC has clearly failed its mission to protect employees in the workplace. It does not work and needs to be abolished and replaced with something that will work.

Many victims are unsure of their options. Once educated on their options, many can make more sound decisions on what steps to take.

Everyone must understand how the system works. When victims find out there is no justice by filing an EEOC complaint, they lose some of their spirit to continue to fight. It’s a rude awakening but for many, it’s all the more reason they must continue to fight. Once you file one complaint, whether you filed it on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age - your life goes under a microscope. You will end up filing more complaints referred to as “retaliation complaints” especially if you work for the federal government. In other words, the reprisals will be so severe once you file one complaint, that your managers will alienate you away from your co-workers and even use them to carry out selfish acts of harassment against you. You are left with no other choice but to file another complaint.

The goal of abusive managers is to “break the spirit” of good, hard working, honest employees. When you break the spirit of people – you are left with a person who can’t think for themselves. Take for instance the alarming statistics of black women who work on the federal level. One out of every 20 black women (if not less) - 1) have been on stress leave, 2) is on stress leave, 3) or is contemplating going on stress leave. Why the disparities? After filing an EEOC complaint, chances are whether you are a male but especially a female – you will end up on UNPAID stress leave because of the retaliation. Other repercussions for filing a discrimination complaint is: 1) filing for bankruptcy because there is little or no income to pay your mortgage, 2) getting divorced because of the mental and financial pressure on your spouse and family, 3) loss of good health and life insurance because you are off from work for over a year, 4) loss of your health and spirit, and 5) for many becoming homeless.

As Corporate America moves increasingly more towards diversity, they would have to learn to treat people with dignity. They must embrace fair hiring not only because it is the right thing to do also because it’s good business.

Over the last decade the names of major companies sued for discrimination read like a “Who’s Who” of American business. Just to name a few: Coca Cola - $192 million settlement; Texaco - $176 million settlement; Denny’s - $42 million settlement; Adams Mark - $8 million settlement; Shoney’s - $132 million settlement; Los Angeles County Police Department - $100 million settlement (largest settlement in its history for racial and gender discrimination); AstraAB, a pharmaceutical company - $9.8 million (sexual harassment class action); Sheet Metal Workers International Union - $2.6 million.
African American Microsoft employees are seeking class-action status for a $5 billion racial bias lawsuit against the computer software giant claiming that the company had a “plantation mentality.” In 1999 government statistics showed that only 2.6 percent of Microsoft's 21,429 employees, and only 1.6 percent of the company's 5,155 managers, were black. African American employees were repeatedly passed over for promotions, paid less than white employees, and subjected to harassment and retaliation when they complained.

Burger King, the nation’s number 2 fast food chain, has been socked with a $103 million lawsuit on race, age and disability discrimination.

Wal-mart’s 1.6 million current and former women workers at their 3,473 stores are seeking class-action status which would make it the largest ever in the history of this country.

Morgan Stanley agreed to pay $54 million to settle claims that it underpaid and did not promote women. A few days later, aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. agreed to pay up to $72.5 million to settle similar allegations.

Remember class-action lawsuits change policies and procedures. This administration which is anti-union, anti-family and anti-people have done everything they could to weaken laws dealing with class-action lawsuits.

In some companies or agencies, abuse comes in forms of intimidation and harassment which not only pollutes the entire workforce but it affects the taxpayers as well. For instance in the case of the United States Customs Service where over 1300 African American women international travelers in Chicago had to come together to file a class-action lawsuit against U.S. Customs for abusive and illegal pat-downs and strip-searches. Eventually only eighty-seven (87) women received justice and were awarded $21,000 individually, out of a $2 million dollar settlement. This is a prime example of how unmanageable managers and employees and their policies and practices can also affect the public and taxpayers. To this day many of these women fear the government and are afraid to board airplanes.

Other cases where “workplace abuse” played a role in abuse against the public or taxpayers were the patrons vs. the Denny’s Restaurants, and the Adams Mark Hotels which was the largest racial discrimination settlement by the hotel chain ($8 million). Also, don’t forget about how IRS agents went on “Gestapo Type Raids” and carried out a rampage against good, hard working taxpayers. Many taxpayers ended up committing suicide because their homes, cars and other possessions were taken away from them illegally. Everyone should remember Jennifer Long, a whistleblower, who testified against the IRS abuses.

The rise in overtime lawsuits, filed under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) (
http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/flsa), has been described as the “nation’s fastest-growing legal battlefront between workers and their employers.”

Changes do occur as proven by Denny’s and Texaco who now have a “three strikes and you are out” policy for their supervisors. They are very serious about discrimination.

Many also feel that companies such as Texaco, Master Card International and Denny’s, are not backing away from their commitment to diversity. These corporations are continuing to invest in programs that will institute their understanding of the diverse workforces they employ.

Some companies welcome women, African Americans or gays, but are horrible at welcoming the disabled. If you don’t have an inclusive workforce, people know that. The word “a diverse market” gets out pretty fast. You have to “walk the walk.”

Many women and African Americans employees who experience blatant acts of sex and racial discrimination are the last hired and the first fired. These minorities are treated as if they are second and third class citizens in their own country. Article 5 of the Declaration of Human Rights states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. But because of the current economy, this is exactly what’s taking place in workplaces all over the United States.

African Americans are being fired at an alarming rate, while other managers and employees bring in their relatives to replace them.

Eighty percent (80%) of complaints that enter into any civil rights office is “employment discrimination.” Women and African Americans should not and cannot afford to back away from the workplace. Not everyone can become an entrepreneur and open their own business so we must keep pushing forward to provide opportunities for people.

We can no longer turn a blind eye to these types of disparities. Something must now be done!

The answers are in the halls of Congress and unless the public/taxpayers take another look at “workplace abuse” and demand change, people will continue to become victims.

With Corporations continuing to downsize and many jobs being outsourced and sent overseas, there must be some type of public outcry that allows “workplace abuses” without constraints or checks and balances. We are left with no other choices but to take action and move forward to change the system. We can no longer afford to remain quiet.

Our kids must understand that even though there is an appearance of justice there is NO JUSTICE when you file a complaint in the workplace. They must learn that when they leave the comfort of their homes, there is something very sinister out there called “workplace abuse.” They must understand that they have no other choice but to open their own businesses.

If you are contemplating filing a discrimination complaint, protect yourself by learning your rights. Read the “Top Ten Tips on How To Fight Discrimination in the Workplace” at
http://www.discrimination101.com/TopTenTips.html

Cathy Harris is a discrimination consultant. She filed 10 EEO complaints including a sexually harassment before she retired from the federal government in July 2005. She is available for Lectures, Seminars and Workshops. She is the author of new series book “How To Take Control of Your Own Life” (
www.HowToTakeControl.com) and upcoming series book “Discrimination 101” (www.Discrimination101.com) She can be contacted through your company at Angels Press, P.O. Box 870849, Stone Mountain, GA 30087, Phone: (800) 797-8663, Fax: (678) 254-5018, Website: www.angelspress.com, info@angelspress.com Her other columns can be found at http://www.angelspress.com/columns.html
Copyright (c) Cathy Harris - 2007 - All Rights Reserved.


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