“Is My Employment Discrimination Case Strong? – Here’s How to Tell”

Published on March 24th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

““The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer hear birds sing.”

- Eric Berne

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES: One of the questions most frequently asked of employment lawyers – and of this blog – is this: “Do I have a strong employment discrimination case?” The reason seems obvious: so many people feel aggrieved at work, and so many people feel that, just maybe, the cause of the problem is “something” about them. What “something?” Perhaps their (a) age, (b) race, (c) gender, (d) disability, (e) pregnancy, (f) religion, (g) sexual orientation, (h) national origin, (i) genetic background, or other “protected classification” under federal, state and local laws.

To answer that question takes familiarity with the facts of the possible claim. Just as a doctor can know all there is to know about medicine, he or she cannot make a good diagnosis without knowing the patient. That takes blood tests, ex-rays, and the like. So, too, it is with lawyers: the “facts” of the case make it a strong case or a weak case. But you may not be a lawyer. Do you need a lawyer to decide if your employment discrimination case is strong or weak? Not in my opinion. Why not?

You know best the facts, events and circumstances of what happened to you, and how it compares with what happened to others. You know best the individuals concerned, and have a good sense of their intentions toward you. You know best the demographic makeup of those you work for and work with. All you need is a way to put those facts, events and circumstances into a framework of understanding. You can, with the right tools, determine whether you have a strong discrimination case.

And, so, in this newsletter we provide you with the way to determine – yourself – whether you have a strong case of discrimination in the way you are treated in your workplace. Here are the tools you need.

LESSON TO LEARN: Employment discrimination cases are quite common in our society, and seemingly more common as time goes by. That seems to be a result of three phenomena: (i) a strong societal determination to make employment opportunity a “level playing field” so that no one is excluded or given less a chance than others; (ii) a rather wide-ranging set of federal, state and municipal laws that make it fairly easy to raise a discrimination claim or legal case; and (iii) increasingly tough competition among employees for a limited number of jobs.

In very general terms, the law is comprised of (a) a set of rules, (b) nearly always borne of common experience and common sense, (c) intended to encourage us all to be honest and fair to each other. What many lawyers would have you believe – namely, that the law is (i) hugely complicated, (ii) incapable of being understood by most people, and (iii) warrants being paid a lot of money for sharing how it works – is just not true. To the contrary, there is a lot you can do for yourself.

This is especially important regarding employment discrimination law, because so many people have daily concerns about it, and have a yearning to understand it. And, too, because so many people unwittingly bring forth weak employment discrimination claims and cases, often with the encouragement of lawyers. So, in this newsletter we do our best to help. It’s better to know you have a strong employment discrimination case – or a weak one – before you raise a claim or hire an attorney.

Here’s how you can do that.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you want a good idea of whether you have a strong employment discrimination case or claim, here is how you can help yourself make that determination:
Continue Reading. . .

Sklover’s Thought for the Work Week

Published on March 23rd, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

Featured Coffee Cup

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

– Mary Oliver

At work, never use the phrases “That can’t be” and “I can’t imagine that.” There was a time – just a few years ago – that no one had even imagined a GPS system, a smart phone, or an “app,” but without just those three, there could not be an Uber or so many other new endeavors that are changing our daily lives – including our lives at work. There are so many things that are both unimaginable and yet “on their way” at this very moment. Keep yourself open to them, even if you can’t imagine them.

© 2015 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved

[If you would like to contribute a favored quote, saying or proverb, please submit it to us at info@SkloverWorkingWisdom.com].

Don’t worry about a bully boss’s “sensitivity.”

Published on March 17th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: I am facing a situation that I need a bit of help with. For four years, I have put up with my boss’s undermining me publicly and privately, giving me the worst assignments and shortest deadlines, and his dishonest performance reviews. Feedback from my internal clients and my objective metrics are all quite, quite good. But he is constantly on me for alleged “mistakes,” “poor judgment” and claims of “disappointing” him.

Several of my colleagues have expressed to me that they feel quite bad about the way I am treated. It is my belief that good work should determine your treatment and success at work. That has managed to maintain me for years, but my last evaluation was almost horrible, and what is happening at work has gotten to me, and even affected my children.

So, finally, I filed a written complaint with HR, using one of your templates. I was honest, I gave names, dates and quoted him. And I think I showed that things he said in my last review were false.

My boss and his boss called me into a room today and told me that they were both “hurt” and “upset,” that I shouldn’t have made such “accusations,” My boss’s boss said that he was “uncomfortable” with this situation. Any suggestions?

Name and City Withheld

Answer: Dear Blog Visitor: I want to share these four things with you:
Continue Reading. . .

Sklover’s Thought for the Work Week

Published on March 16th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

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“You aren’t rich until you have something money can’t buy.”

– Garth Brooks

A recent academic study has examined what it is that makes people happy. The conclusion? Two things: mutually supportive personal relationships and engagement in one’s work. Money, and things money can buy, did not even rank. Sure, life is easier when money is not a pressing, daily concern, but one thing is for sure: contentment is not derived from cash. Just something to bear mind.

© 2015 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved

[If you would like to contribute a favored quote, saying or proverb, please submit it to us at info@SkloverWorkingWisdom.com].

“Going to Be a Change Agent? – Get a Clear and Strong Mandate First.”

Published on March 10th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

“Most pioneers end up with their face in the dust and an arrow in their back.”

- Unknown

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES: About 15 years ago Emile came to us after a rather disturbing job loss and career stumble. He had been a tenured Professor of Linguistics at a major university and had received an offer that, for him, was almost too good to refuse. A major financial services firm in New York had approached him through an executive recruiter to spearhead a major initiative regarding linguistic, economics and artificial intelligence.

Simply put, the firm’s Senior Most Management thought it would be a great idea and a profitable one, as well, to rationalize the words that its many divisions and subsidiaries used on a daily basis. For example, if only the word “profit” meant the same thing to a bond trader in Tokyo as it did to a Credit Analyst in New York and to a derivatives salesman in London, too. Likewise for the words “earnings,” “net income,” “annual return” and “free cash flow.”

For a full year an Executive Recruiter searched for the perfect candidate and came back with Emile’s name and resume. Because he had a strong background in both linguistics and economics, he seemed ideal for the challenge. The offer made to Emile was almost 10 times more than he had ever earned in a year. He accepted, and began his new job shortly after the end of the then-current semester.

After Senior Most Management approved a plan, a timeline and a budget, and Emile hired a small but impressive staff, Emile began his tour of the firm’s offices in all of the world’s major financial capitals. His plan was very detailed and well thought out. His execution of the plan was impeccable. His meetings were promising. His results were disastrous.

It turned out that the traders in Tokyo had no use or patience for a new set of words: their clients, customers and clearinghouses had no interest in changing – or re-learning – the meaning of words and phrases that had universally used in their trades for many decades. The same was true for the derivative salesmen in London, the foreign exchange salesmen in Dubai, and the precious metals traders in Hong Kong. When they were not derisive of Emile’s efforts, they were simply ignoring them.

Sure enough, Senior Most Management soon closed down the project, thanked Emile for his four months of efforts, and terminated his services. No notice. No severance.

That great idea didn’t go too well, did it?

LESSON TO LEARN: Change is surely needed, even in the most successful of endeavors, because competitors are making changes every day and we have to change to survive. Unless companies continually adapt their changing business climates, they will sooner or later go the same way as the dinosaurs. It’s great that you are a transformative person who is going to make transformational change. But don’t think it will be without danger.

Face it: If you are going to be a transformative “change agent,” then you are going to be feared and perhaps even despised by certain people, and perhaps even powerful people, not necessarily due to the changes you will likely make, but because of the changes you just might make.

Accept it: If you are going to make transformative changes, then you are going to make some people uncomfortable, and perhaps even upset. Even if the changes you expect to make are good for the company, and in the overall interests of all.

Deal with it: If you are successful in improving the processes and people in a new context, you are going to make those who are already working in that context, and doing the “usual thing,” look less than perfect.

Think about it: These days, you don’t need to have the words “Change Agent” tattooed on your forehead or printed on your business cards to be hired as a Change Agent. Even if you are not given such a clear title and role, chances are if you are a creative, dynamic, and energetic “new person” you will be viewed or treated as someone who might suggest change.

Get ready for pushback: If you are going to make changes, you are going to get pushback, sometimes benign, sometimes evil, sometimes in ways you don’t see, and sometimes in a kind of “language” you don’t understand. As I often counsel clients, and not necessarily referring to sex, “Be extra careful until you know ‘who is sleeping with who.’” There are many “webs of connection” and complex relations at work in any organization.

I have come up with something of a set of principles, that might prove useful to you in navigating your transformative efforts. We call it “The Seven P’s to Protect Change Agents.” Read on.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: To better prepare and protect yourself in going into a transformative “change agent” role, consider these “Seven P’s To Protect Change Agents”:
Continue Reading. . .

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 30 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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