The Rising Cost Of Denying Access To Those With Disabilities
He is task-oriented and needs to be as his store is short staffed. While David has always been fair, he is upset with Tommy; his evening manager who comes in one day with doctor’s notes and his arm in a cast. Tommy needed accommodation that he is entitled to through the Americans with Disabilities.
David at first didn’t understand and stated,” It’s just a broken arm.” But Tommy’s injury interferes with a major life activity such as eating and dressing. Tommy required more time to complete his tasks while he was disabled. David was less than supportive and reluctantly gave Tommy extra time to complete tasks such as inventory and staff scheduling.
Tommy’s rehabilitation was difficult, requiring him to continue with physical therapy and occupational therapy to regain his dexterity.
David was thrilled when Tommy’s cast was removed ten weeks later, but couldn’t understand the invisible disability/ nerve damage, which still interfered with Tommy’s major life activities. David expected the same performance from Tommy as if the arm was never injured. Despite Tommy expressing his concern with HR and mentioned to David that he still needed the accommodation David still pressed for Tommy to work over his accommodation. Tommy even submitted updated paperwork from his doctor and therapist confirming his condition. Nonetheless, David forced Tommy to work extra hours to complete tasks and started retaliation with last minute scheduling, surprise deliveries and unscheduled meetings. Tommy was beside himself. He was an excellent employee, who simply needed the accommodations that were supported by his doctor and required by the American’s with Disabilities Act.
David and his organization didn’t realize there are stiff fines for non-compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act.
In the spring of 2014, the Department of Justice raised the fine for the initial violation from $55,000 to $75,000.
The fines attached to the second violation and subsequent violations can rise to $150,000. In short, each and every time David harassed Tommy; he was opening his employer to another costly fine.
Of late, perhaps in support of an aging population with more disabilities, and a population of returning veterans with disabilities, the Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board have been particularly aggressive in protecting employees with disabilities.
For example, July 2, 2014, the EEOC announced the Walgreens would pay $180,000 in damages for dismissing a casher at “a South San Francisco Walgreens because of her disability after she ate a $1.39 bag of chips during a hypoglycemic attack in order to stabilize her blood sugar level. “ June 30, 2014 the EEOC announced that Princeton Health care will pay $1.35 million in a disability case.
Further, a recent update to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 also includes an application of the Americans with Disabilities act.
“Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than co-workers similar in their ability or inability to work,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
Employers and employees alike can visit the U.S. Equal Employment Commission website for their rights and responsibilities regarding supporting workers with disabilities. Visit www.eeoc.gov for guidance and press releases.
In late October 2013, Jonathan Martin, second year starting tackle for the Miami Dolphins, abruptly left the team checking himself into a hospital because of relentlessly aggressive treatment he received from teammates.
Despite his physical size at 6’5” and 315 pounds, Martin was the target of workplace place bullying; a recent report written by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LPP confirms team misconduct from Ritchie Incognito contributed to the emotional stress and departure from the team.
What is compelling about the report is the characterization of both men fit the classic bully/target relationship.
Martin was mild mannered; unfortunately he had endured a history of bullying during high school. He had been chided to “man up, “or “not punk out,” when faced with aggressive behavior. By his own admission, he “played it off,” when met with a barrage of nasty, humiliating and sexually explicit and racially charged remarks about his mother and sister. Reports reveal that Martin had discussed depression and suicidal thoughts with a psychiatrist and prescribed medication to mitigate the issue. Despite the stress, Martin never reported the abuse to the Miami Dolphin organization for fear of being labeled a snitch or “Judas.”
In contrast, Ritchie Incognito had a history of aggressive behavior prior to bullying Martin.
In college, he had suspensions and ejections from games. He was accused for spitting on a player and arrested for alcohol in several other incidents. He was suspended indefinitely from Nebraska’s team, then enrolled at Oregon, only to be released a week later (Paul, p. 60, 2014). Despite his athletic talent, the Colts, the Ravens, and the Patriots passed on Incognito. In 2005, he wasSporting News “Dirtiest Player in the NFL.”
Looking at the past behavior of both players, they are the classic target and bully pair.
An overly aggressive and troubled young person evolves to terrorize a particularly passive colleague and peer. The unique facts of this case include a “fine book” where Incognito memorialized fines coerced through intimidation, sometimes up to $10,000 of Martin and other players. The press releases in October characterized a type of friendship between Martin and Incognito; however the independent report states Martin’s “effort to befriend Incognito also is consistent with the reaction of a person who is trapped in an abusive situation… it is a common coping mechanism exhibited by victim of abusive relationships” (p. 18). The report also confirms that Incognito joined with two other players, Jerry and Pouncey who bullied another teammate “Player A” and an “Assistant Trainer.”
Anecdotal conversations over the past months have laid blame on leadership, on Martin for being “too soft,” or on team captains for not reporting the misconduct. Yet, the independent report confirms this problem which culminated in the locker room was years in the making. Given the past behavior of Incognito, there is plenty of blame to go around regarding what an organization can accept from a player who has been previously suspended from not one but two college teams.
The recommendations are then for everyone in the environment.
There are many players in the workplace bullying scenario with the Miami Dolphins organization, just as there are many players in ANY workplace environment in which bullying and aggression are allowed to flourish. Any organization has a responsibility to vette out who is hired into the organization. High performers who are bullies, rule breakers and miscreants ultimately undercut the very high performance the organization once anticipated.
- The bully has a responsibility to seek help. Whether the bully is Ritchie Incognito, or any other aggressor, his personal reflection over the years riddled with arrests and suspensions should highlight a number of signals that need intervention.
- Bystanders and witnesses have a responsibility. By saying nothing, bystanders and witnesses allow the aggressive behavior to erode the organization. Saying nothing is a silent state of complicit support for the bully.
- The target has a responsibility as well. While this comment is not about blaming the victim, the responsibility is about self-advocacy. Just as a target of sexual harassment or racial discrimination has a legal responsibility to approach the offender, and then report the unwanted behavior to organizational superiors if necessary, the target of workplace bullying also needs to engage in self-advocacy to let his or her organization know when aggressive behavior has become a distraction to work performance.
This high profile Miami Dolphins workplace bullying case is proof positive that workplace bullying and aggression can emerge anywhere.
Bullying can take hold of an organization and ruin the careers and professional objectives of all those in the organization. For more information about the Report to the National Football League Concerning Issues of Workplace Bullying at the Miami Dolphins, written by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LPP, please follow the link to http://www.nfldolphinsreport.com/.
Leah P. Hollis, Ed.D.
President Patricia Berkly LLC
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the home of brotherly love and sisterly affection, was the proud host of The Black Doctoral Network Inaugural National Conference October 3 through October 5 2013, at the Double Tree Hotel. This hallmark event was led by Dr. Maurice Green, Executive Director at the International Black Doctoral Network Association. The speakers throughout the conference were a literal Who’s who of the black intelligentsia focusing on the theme “scholarship, service and community.”
The opening session was introduced by Trabian Shorters of BMe.org. He asked for black scholars to choose a partner and look closely…. Then name everything wrong with the partner. The connection is this is how the world looks at African American men, seeking first what is wrong. His mission is to work with young African American men in the communities so society doesn’t perpetuate the loss of African American boys and men to the justice system. The task was assigned to conference delegates to preserve the black community and advance the progress of its most squandered resource, the African American male.
The opening ceremony on Thursday evening continued with a compelling speech by Dr. Cornell West, imminent scholar and professor at the Union Seminary in New York City. West urged the audience of black scholars and advocates to find their original voice. “Anyone can be a copy…” but one is always successful when he or she finds that authentic voice. West reflected on the work of WEB Dubois, Angela Davis and William Julius Wilson as examples of original thought that propelled the African American consciousness. He also commented on the spiritual center of our communities, or the erasure of such. Churches, mosques and synagogues are seldom found in the black community; young people find transcendence through music, expressing themselves over a rhyme.
Moved by his remarks, participants in the crowd asked questions about how black intellectuals should poise themselves in a supposedly “post racial” society. Other remarks included the reflection on the Historically Black College, and that the community college serves a great deal of African Americans.
The conference continued through October 4 and October 5 with key note speeches from Dr. William Julius Wilson and Dr. Julianne Malveaux. With over 350 scholars in attendance from institutions such as Cornell University, Morgan State, Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, Howard University, University of Denver and Spelman, to name a few, the program was loaded with critical topics in academy. Presenters offered their primary research and perspective on research methods, entrepreneurship, the academic job talk, the publish/perish process, violence in the workplace and community, and urban education. The conference sessions were engaging, for African Americans, by African Americans.
Considered a solid success by conference organizers and participants, The Black Doctoral Network Inaugural National Conference had several sponsors including top university sponsors such as University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sponsor partners also included John Jay College of Criminal Justice, AmeriHealth Carita, African Ancestry and Bme.org with the Knight Foundation serving as the title sponsor.
Leah P. Hollis, Ed.D. is president and founder of Patricia Berkly LLC in greater Philadelphia. She presented her original work at the conference reflecting on workplace bullying and its impact on African American staff in the academy.Read More
Imagine further, that after such dedicated service, GI Jane and another 26,000 of her fellow service women face sexual assault while serving in the military. Often such assault goes unreported and unpunished, leaving the question, is there justice for GI Jane?
While GI Jane was fictitious, the pervasive level of sexual assault in the service is not. Unfortunately as Face The Nation* reports, a culture of power in the military leads to the pervasive abuse of women serving our country.
In the current system, the commander oversees such complaints; yet this can lead to conflicts of interest or lax oversight, especially if the commander is party to the complaint.
In civilian workplaces, employees are protected from retaliation when they voice concerns for civil rights as outlined in Title VII legislation.
Also, in civilian workplaces, employees can access a third-party in the EEOC and the court system if they don’t find justice internally with Human Resources.
However, it appears that the power structures in the military jeopardize this very right for women. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, has proposed legislation that takes the adjudication process out of the hands of commanders and instead brings such cases to a military board outside the chain of command.
She also reminded the senate that countries like the United Kingdom and Israel have already taken such steps to protect their service women.
The military reports that 97% of its service men and women go through sexual harassment prevention training. Another 9 out of 10 state they would encourage women to report such abuse.
Then why do 26,000 women face sexual assault?
As with any organization which subscribes to power structures as part of its management structure, when power is abused, those at the bottom of the food chain are the ones to endure such abuse.
This is not commentary on how the military should run its leadership training or functions, but it is a reflection on how the misuse of power corrupts. Whether military or civilian leadership, whether it is about abuse, assault, bullying or other corruption of power, it is leadership at the helm that sets the tone, who serves as the architect of the organizational culture.
*SOURCE: CBS News Report
Despite her corporate dress and swank presence, when she walks to her new desk, she is interrupted along the way to “fetch coffee.” Her own secretary while kind, comments under her breath… “Guess they hire them younger and younger…”
Layla recognizes that while she has her stellar MBA diploma hung proudly behind her in the office, all too often, people assume she is sitting at her boss’s desk fixing a calendar, or that she is inappropriately at the wrong seat.
During her first division meeting, the vice president congratulates her with, “Gee Layla, you are awfully impressive in a meeting…” Layla thinks, of course she is impressive. That’s how she got the job. That’s what $100,000 of graduate school was for. Why is being impressive so noteworthy while for others it was just expected?
“Micro-inequities can be like little paper cuts.”
Is this bullying? Favoritism? Racism? Sexism? Such terms don’t exactly describe Layla’s experience, though her race and gender inform the slights she receives. She is not being attacked over time or facing escalating discrimination. She isn’t in a hostile environment, and even is promoted for her work and merit. Yet these little dings and slights challenge her resolve and focus at times. Layla is experiencing what is called “micro inequities.” She endures comments and behavior that at times make her want to disengage from her job. From time to time, Layla has a wandering eye on the job board in search of an environment that is more inclusive and supportive.
How can an organization be more sensitive? The Golden Rule is a good start. Make comments that you would like to receive and reflect on your own behaviors as a leader. If you have a great idea, do you want your supervisor distracted with text messaging when you talk? As a new hire, do you want someone commenting on your age, race, clothes or appearance is a less than flattering way How would you feel if people make inappropriate assumptions about your work duties based on age, race, gender etc?
Micro-inequities can be like little paper cuts on someone’s motivation. One or two might be overlooked; but even mild and non-verbal put downs over time can disengage even the best employee. Subtle put downs accumulated over time for employees can hurt staff productivity and compromise innovation.
Employers and coworkers can guard against micro inequities by reflecting on comments BEFORE such remarks are made audible. Remember, everyone doesn’t have the same sense of humor. Lastly, an authentic discussion and request for feedback can cut through misunderstandings and micro-inequities.
It’s that time of year for new beginnings.
Spring is upon us; commencement is around the corner; and it’s a time for a new lease on life. However, if you have a physical or learning disability or have a child with a physical or learning disability, this transition to life and college can be a daunting experience. In the alphabet soup of acronyms, anyone can get lost trying to navigate their way.
A recent, book, The Guide to Transition Students with Disabilities, outlines the regulations which support those with disabilities: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitations Act. Those who are “differently abled” should know that both employers and colleges are required by federal law to provide reasonable accommodation to those with physical and cognitive disabilities.
The goal of these laws is to end discrimination against those who have disabilities. Approximately 5.8 million children have a disability; further close to 2.3 million veterans are returning home from war with disabilities as well. Disabilities can include visual impairments, brain injuries, psychological impairments, medical disabilities (such as diabetes) and orthopedic impairment.
As Dr. Jeffrey Holmes states, “self-advocacy is key in these situations for students, parents and job seekers”. Knowing the rules empowers people to give schools and employers proper notice about a disability during the college or interview process.
Therefore, a keep in mind a few things when making transitions to college and life:
- Have a clear diagnosis of the disability. Learning disabilities are typically diagnosed by a psychologists. Even is a physical disability might be obvious (being wheel chair bound for example), it is still prudent to have medical records available.
- Alert colleges and employers about the disability at during the recruiting stage. Colleges are obligated to provide reasonable accommodation, but need that medical information or diagnosis to move forward with the accommodation. Employers are required to make accommodation even during phone interviews. Be clear about your needs and advocate for yourself BEFORE there is a problem.
- Time management is key. Keep a folder of contacts and people you have talked to in advocating for yourself. Take your time and make time to engage in proper self-advocacy.
- Know the rules. While colleges and employers might be bound by ADA, IDEA and section 504, self-advocacy begins with know your rights.
To learn more about federal regulations affecting young people with disabilities and their families, check out, The Guide to Transition Students with Disabilities, by Dr. Jeffrey Holmes, which is available on amazon.com and Barnesandnobles.com
post originally appeared on JENNINGS WIRE.
You will spend more waking hours on the job than you will with family and friends.
In the unsettled economy of the last five years, the workplace has at times become a tense place for employers and employees. Discrimination and harassment cases remain at heightened levels, with close to 100,000 new complaints with the EEOC each of the last three years.
Various state legislators are striving to pass healthy workplace laws to protect people from harassment/bullying who are not afforded protections under the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964.
With all of this strife, how can we get back to loving the thing we do?
How do we create and maintain a healthy workplace as an individual? Dr. Leah Hollis of Patricia Berkly LLC offers a few strategies to help you fall in love again with the job.
- Know the employee manual. So often employees simply sign off on the employee manual without reading it. Each company has a different set of policies regarding sick time, lunch, harassment, retaliation or even payroll. Know the rules of your organization and follow them.
- Don’t be a bad actor. Even if you have a case of harassment, discrimination or bullying, the minute you stoop to the level of the bully or harasser you have become a “bad actor.” The bad actor is categorized as being a ‘hot head,’ unreliable, or simply a colleague who is not behaving in a manner that the organization can support. Just because someone else is acting out, it is not an invitation to drop the “f- bomb” as well. Bad actors seldom prosper.
- Do your job. The reason we are all on the job is to produce for the employer. Excessive undocumented time off, constant mistakes, fraud, favoritism and other performance issues can be grounds for action. If there is a group of similarly situated employees who have performance issues, and they are treated differently in response to the same infractions, there can be a legal issue for the employer. However, doing the job well and being an excellent performer strengthens anyone’s credibility.
- Know the structure of your organization. Be sure to make connections from the janitor all the way through to the vice president. People should know you and your strengths before there is a problem. And, you should know how to seek reliable information.
- Stay positive. No one wants to work with “Negative Nelly.” Stay positive without barking orders, acting out or demeaning people. Again likeability across the organization is key. Such positive energy can help you stay focused on your options and also bring you support in the midst of tough transitions. Grandma was right; you get more flies with honey than vinegar.
These strategies can help an individual employee protect themselves from unwitting mistakes or see changes that can make someone uneasy. Being a reliable strong performer with a good attitude can make the difference between being targeted at work and loving the job.