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Is there Justice for GI Jane

Posted by on 2:05 pm in Discrimination, Diversity Training, sexual harassment | 0 comments

Is There Justice For GI Jane?

Is there Justice for GI Jane?

Is there Justice for GI Jane?

Do you remember the hardships Demi Moore’s character went through to become the first woman to join Navy Special Forces in the 1997 film GI Jane?

The torment, the sacrifice and the even the frustration any woman endures to measure up to men in a men’s world should be enough to equalize that system on and off the field of battle for women.

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

Micro-inequities: Little Things Mean A Lot!

Posted by on 7:41 pm in bullying, Diversity Training | 0 comments

Micro-inequities: Little Things Mean A Lot!

Micro-inequities: Little Things Mean A Lot!

Micro-inequities: Little Things Mean A Lot!

Layla, a 35 year old Latina woman (who looks ten years younger than her age) is starting her new job as senior director of her division, supervising over 20 employees.

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.

 

ORIGINALLY POSTED on JENNINGSWIRE   JenningsWire-Globe-Logo

Advice to those with disabilities transitioning to college

Posted by on 12:38 pm in Accessibility, Learning Disabilities | 0 comments

Advice to those with disabilities transitioning to college

Advice to those with disabilities transitioning to college

Advice to those with disabilities transitioning to college

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.

 

Fall In Love With Work Again

Posted by on 5:53 pm in Discrimination, Diversity Training | 0 comments

Fall In Love With Work Again

Fall In Love With Work Again

Fall In Love With Work Again

 

You will spend more waking hours on the job than you will with family and friends.

It is no surprise that people who have stressful and toxic work environments have higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, depression and other stress related ailments.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Leah Hollis, Ed.D. is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.

Martin Luther King Day of Service Starts at Work

Posted by on 9:22 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Martin Luther King Day of Service Starts at Work

Martin Luther King Day of Service Starts at Work

Martin Luther King Day of Service Starts at Work

 

Did you know that Martin Luther King was only 26 years old when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott?  At the age of 35 he won the Noble Peace Prize and at 39, he was slain in Memphis, Tennessee. On this day of service, we all can take a look back to the dream for equality for people regardless of race, gender, class, religion etc.

In 1963, he wrote Letter from a Birmingham Jail in which he writes, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”  While this wisdom at the time was applied to the social inequities across our country, the same philosophy still applies when we find injustice in the workplace.  Harassment, bullying, and retaliation cost organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Did you know that 37% of the general population will face workplace bullying according the Namie and Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute? The recent book, Bully in the Ivory Tower confirms that workplace bullying is even worse in higher education with 62% of employees facing bullying. In regard to civil rights statutes, retaliation continues to be the largest EEOC complaint area; a complaint status where someone exercises his or her civil rights, yet faces ill will or adverse action as a result. Every day, over 550 NEW workplace discrimination complaints are filed against small business owners. Seeking equity for everyone can minimize these complaints and the cost associated with defending the organization.

The beginning of the year.

It is a great time to have an internal day of service to cultivate a healthy workplace and maintain critical productivity as the year gets under way.

1)      Group training.  When a culture is trained to identify quarantine and eradicate bullying, the workplace is a safer place.  Group training would assist staff members in identifying bullying and empower staff to address it head on.  Further, training would include policy analysis and implementation.  While staff may be trained, the organization also needs to have an early alert system, a sanctuary where targets can report issues, and a clearly defined organizational time line to address the problem.

2)      Individual interventions.  Coaching can work for individuals to create candid interventions for those who exhibit bullying tendencies. Individual interventions would include developing strategic solutions to comply with the organization’s anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies, also establishing a leadership action plan for productive engagement with his or her staff.

Guard against bullying, discrimination and harassment in your work place.  Have proper training and intervention to create a positive, inclusive and productive workplace.

Interview on WUSA9 Workplace bullying in higher education

Posted by on 2:34 am in bullying, cyberbullying, sexual harassment | 0 comments

 

Interview on WUSA9 Workplace bullying in higher education

Interview on WUSA9 Workplace bullying in higher education

Interview on WUSA9 Workplace bullying in higher education

 

 

By Thomas James

http://workplaceviolencenews.com/

 

Bullying among children and teens in schools receive extra attention these days, but experts say bullying takes place in other times in our lives.

In fact, workplace bullying is happening at an alarming rate. Especially in higher education. Leah P. Hollis, Ed.D., Author of the book “Bully In The Ivory Tower” says 62 percent of people who work in higher education have experienced bullying versus 45 percent of the general population.

Dr. Hollis says, “I surveyed 175 schools and what I found in the return was that a number of people, especially in the entry levels and the middle management were talking about how they were the target of bullying either from the boss or the organization in general.

9 News Now’s Anita Brikman interviews Dr. Hollis about her survey and why workplace bullying is more prevalent in higher education than in other professions:

Anita: “What’s going on? Why at college and universities?”

Dr. Hollis: “What’s interesting is at a college or university we are all trained to be experts in our field to go out and do this wonderful research and create excellent knowledge. It also is an isolating experience so now when you have to manage people or collaborate or have team building you’ve already been protected by tenure perhaps or at least in a culture that supports being isolated and also supports a pretty big ego. So that doesn’t always make for the best management skills.”

Anita: “So in these case studies, who was saying they are being bullied? Younger educators bullied by tenured folks?”

Dr. Hollis: “Typically it was somebody at the entry level, your assistant director, it might have even been the director or just the manager of the department. Folks who are reporting up-line to Vice Presidents, Provosts, or even the Presidents. So bullying has to do with power and those with the least amount of power are the ones on the receiving end of bullying.”

To see the entire interview, including how workplace bullying in higher education affects students and how can we deal with workplace bullying across the board, click here.

Source: WUSA9.com

Don’t Be Afraid of the Office Bully Monster

Posted by on 5:27 pm in bullying, cyberbullying, Discrimination | 0 comments

Don’t Be Afraid of the Office Bully Monster

Don’t Be Afraid of the Office Bully Monster

Originally posted on JENNINGS WIRE

 

We are entering that cherished time of they year…

Halloween moving through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years is a time where office parties and progressively bad behavior seem to be overlooked underneath the haze of holiday cheer. There is nothing like spiked apple cider, rum cake and that mysterious red punch at the party to make colleague and supervisor overlook their better senses.

Employees who are new to their career might find this to be an invitation to join in the “reindeer games,” without considering the consequences when they sober up the next day.  Take a page from Lance, the new assistant director who got a bit comfortable with his boss at a party.

With the apple bob at lunch and spicy cider mixture that somehow got spiked, the office staff was at ease in an environment that was typically tense and rigid.  Lance was thrilled with the holiday cheer as his first year under his boss, Artie, was less than something to celebrate.  Lance noticed that the rest of the staff was at ease too, maybe this was the end to the yelling and manipulative behavior that had been the norm for his department.  Maybe Lance could finally relax.

Artie and Lance had a chance to chat over the apple cider.

Artie had let his hair down, discussed his own insecurities with upper management and with a buzz, confided in Lance about fears of losing respect at the top.  Lance felt comfortable and joined in, sharing his own insecurities with his low grade point average in college, feeling unaccomplished with his quest of grad school, and his lack luster relationship with on-again-off-again girlfriend.  For about 90 minutes, though induced by alcohol, they were civil human beings for a change.  As the office party came to an end, the staff took their last nibbles at cookies and caramel corn, then returned to a relatively productive afternoon on the job.  All seemed well.

The next day, Lance reported to work to find that things were “back to normal.”  No one made eye contact with each other.  There was a muffled tirade coming from Artie’s office. As Lance settled in, his cube mate remarked, “ the ogre is back…!”

Artie quickly came around the corner and berated Lance for being 15 minutes late.  He reminded Lance that “this is why he couldn’t make the cut in grad school…” and that “… no woman would stick with him given his tardiness..”  Lance was demoralized.  All the things he had shared over spiced cider was coming back to haunt him publically.  He was powerless to respond, and saw no relief from the terror which returned to the office.

Lance was caught in what he saw as an impossible situation.  Without other support, he couldn’t imagine his next steps, let alone how to get to the end of the day.  Advice to all employees, don’t be afraid of self-advocacy in regard to office bullying, however be careful in your tactics.

1. Keep a diary with dates and clear examples of harassment and bullying.  Keep this diary, supporting emails about your performance and performance appraisals at home. Know however, employees don’t have a right to harbor proprietary information about the job.

2. Find out about the history of bullying in the office.  Had others complained? What was the result? Did HR support the target or the bully? This information will determine next steps.

3. Quietly look for another job.  Keep in mind that announcing a job hunt is actionable and can motivate an organization to terminate you.  Don’t trust anyone in a toxic environment about your own plans to leave.

4. If the evidence supports a complaint, take records to HR about specific instances of bullying.  Consider ways to couch the problem as a “what’s in it for them.” Show HR how the bully is hurting the organization, which is their main concern. Is the bully boss coercing staff to break the rules, overlook policy, or engage in other behavior that can hurt the organization?

5. If the bullying is occurring within a Title VII protected class (target is bullied because of race, gender, religion, pregnancy, genetic information etc) this can be an EEO charge where retaliation from the employer for reporting is against the law.

A few things to remember…

If the boss was a bully before the office party, he or she will continue after the office party once everyone sobers up.  Don’t let your guard down just because it is the holidays.  Further, don’t be afraid to learn your rights and strategize on how to advocate for yourself.  Studies show that people who maintain a spiritual grounding and locus of control for their futures can weather the storm of a bully.

To learn more about her upcoming book on workplace bullying, the costs of higher education and the solutions and recommendations to higher education leadership also revealed through this study, visit Dr. Leah Hollis and Patricia Berkly, LLC at www.diversitytrainingconsultants.com   Bully in the Ivory Tower  is available on Amazon.com.

 

CONGRATULATIONS: Power women, Leah Hollis

Posted by on 3:53 am in bullying, cyberbullying, Discrimination, Diversity Training | 0 comments

CONGRATULATIONS Power Women: Leah Hollis

CONGRATULATIONS Power Women: Leah Hollis

CONGRATULATIONS Power Women: Leah Hollis

 

Feature in Mainline TODAY, OCTOBER 2012

Twenty-one of the Main Line’s most successful and influential women share their secrets to success.

BY TARA BEHAN

“I think you should be treated fairly at work,” says East Fallowfield Township’s Leah Hollis. “You shouldn’t be treated differently because of your gender, race or religion.” These days, that should be a given. It’s not. As founder and president of the Patricia Berkly LLC Group, Hollis has dedicated her career to preventing workplace discrimination. She’s even written books about it. Her first, Unequal Opportunity: Fired Without Cause? Filing with the EEOC, came out last year, and her second, Bully in the Ivory Tower, is due this fall. Advocacy runs in Hollis’ family. Her mom was president of the NAACP in central Pennsylvania, and both parents are civil-rights champions. Once a diversity trainer at Northeastern University, Hollis is hired by companies throughout the country to offer her expertise. She also has an online training series viewed by employees across the country. “You essentially spend more time at work than you do at home with your family on a daily basis,” she says. “So I believe that everyone

YOU’RE FIRED! But wait, my life isn’t a reality TV show….

Posted by on 11:35 pm in companies who offer diversity training, cultural diversity training, Discrimination, Diversity Training, diversity training consultants, sexual harassment | 0 comments

 YOU’RE FIRED! But wait, my life isn’t a reality TV show….

YOU’RE FIRED! But wait, my life isn’t a reality TV show….

YOU’RE FIRED! But wait, my life isn’t a reality TV show….

By Dr Leah Hollis, author of Unequal Opportunity: Fired without cause? Filing with the EEOC…

Raquel had been a rising star in her company since her initial point of hire four years previous.  She had landed major clients, bonuses, and was recognized regionally and nationally for her work.  Despite the recession, Raquel’s life was laden with hard work and well deserved pay.  She had made the necessary sacrifices by delaying marriage, relocating three times, while reaping the financial rewards.  Raquel was at the height of her earning power.  Her performance record was so solid, no wonder she didn’t flinch when her boss retired. So of course, the new boss, Jacob would value her as a longstanding member of his team, even though she was passed over for his position.  Or so she thought.

All teams go through the aches and pains of adjusting to a new leader.  Raquel felt the tension between Jacob and the rest of the team was no different. Everyone was adjusting to his new communication protocols, and reporting expectations.  Therefore, when Raquel walked in to her weekly meeting with him, with the Director of Human Resources present, she could only anticipate a conference about one of her direct reports.  The meeting was short… not sweet…

“You’re fired….” Jacob blurted out.  “We are going in another direction. Budget cuts.”

Raquel was stunned.  Clearly this was a joke. She had earned letters of commendation the last three quarters straight.  Her slack jawed pause allowed Jacob to continue…

“You can have the next two hours to clean out your desk. We already cut off your internet service.  It’s 3 pm now. You should be out by 5 pm…”

Raquel had nothing to say…what was this some reality show?  When will the commentator come out…? Candid Camera… You’ve been PUNKED… something?!?

The HR Director did and said nothing.  Jacob got up and went to the window. “You have two hours…”

Raquel’s mind was spinning.  She just built an addition on her house with a second mortgage.  Sure she could call headhunters, but she couldn’t move.  Budget cuts?  But they just hired two staff member last week… Budget cuts?

***

Raquel’s story unfortunately is played out every day in this recession.  What Raquel’s manager and many other managers don’t realize is that Raquel and other jilted employees feel betrayed and start looking for ways to be heard. At this point, they have nothing to lose by pursuing a lawsuit. More than ever, employees know the federal discrimination laws, and know where to file a complaint either with the EEOC or an attorney.  Employees who are well educated or advanced in their careers are more likely to file a complaint. Because they command higher salaries,  possible damages and back pay rewards are lucrative.

What should employees do while on the job or after termination? Leah Hollis, President of Patricia Berkly LLC and author of Unequal Opportunity, Fired without cause? Filing with the EEOC offers several strategies for those considering filing a discrimination lawsuit.

While Raquel was still on the job, hopefully she took basic steps to document her performance by:

  • Keeping all records notes, letters, and emails that discussed her personal performance.  Organizations have a responsibility to keep staff updated about job performance expectations.
  • Keeping a copy of these performance records AT HOME. Similar to Raquel’s case, the
  • Internet, intranet, and computer access is often the first thing an employer shuts down. However, employees don’t have a right to proprietary information, only information on their performance.
  • Professionally confirming the boss’s expectations and objectives in writing shortly after meetings. If an employee has questions, or believes expectations are unfair, she should calmly and logically express these concerns when the expectations are established. Don’t wait for months down the road when unreasonable expectations can’t be achieved.
    • Reading the employee handbook, no matter how boring.  Know the rules that the employer is playing by. They are responsible for adhering to their own policies as well.

 

Raquel was terminated. Being fired is like being punched at recess by the school bully. Most people don’t see it coming, and feel knocked to their feet in front of the world.   Despite her emotional state, she took a deep breath, regrouped and considered her options:

  • Raquel did some soul searching.   Perhaps this was divine intervention.  Was this an opportunity for another career path or to follow other interests?
  • But, on the other hand, those copious notes regarding her job performance were worth their weight in gold as she considered a wrongful termination complaint. Her notes revealed a pattern of gender discrimination since her last boss retired. First of all, she was more qualified than Jacob.

Once Raquel assessed the situation and decided to pursue legal action with a formal complaint, she had two options:

  • A). To seek the EEOC/and state human relations commission to file a complaint. This option cost Raquel nothing.  They conduct the investigation and require the employer to explain why there was a termination.  The complaint must BE CLEAR.  Do you believe you were fired because of your gender, your race, your age (if over 40)?  You must be explicit with this claim and provide documentation of reoccurring instances where your membership in a protected class (gender, race, age, religion, background, pregnancy) was a compelling element in your termination. If the EEOC doesn’t resolve the matter in a year, the terminated employee will often receive a right to sue letter, and can proceed to option B.  At this point, seek an employee attorney since many will take the case on contingency.
  • B). Seek an employment attorney. Whether the employee comes straight to this option OR waits to get the right to sue letter from the EEOC, the complaining employee still needs to have her ducks in a row. The duration of the average lawsuit is 22 months, but in some cases, carries on much longer.  With a strong case, stay with it because it can provide vindication.

After 26 months of exchanging paper work, conciliation meetings and then mediation, Raquel had proven a clear case of gender discrimination. With the assistance of an attorney, she was awarded a year and half back pay, less attorney’s fees.  During the course of the case, Jacob faced two other gender discrimination complaints and resigned from his post before Raquel’s settlement was final.

In 2010, the EEOC reported close to 100,000 new discrimination cases.  Every day, about 550 small businesses are tagged with discrimination lawsuits.

Have you or some one you know experienced discrimination or unfair treatment at work (based on age, race, gender, religion or national origin)? We would like to hear your story.

For more detailed information on this topic and how people have handled various types of workplace discrimination, visit our website at www.diversitytrainingconsultants.com or check out Unequal Opportunity: Fired without cause, Filing with the EEOC on Barnes and Noble.com.

Reflection on the Rutgers bullying case

Posted by on 3:21 pm in bullying, cyberbullying, Discrimination | 0 comments

Reflection on the Rutgers bullying case

Reflection on the Rutgers bullying case

Reflection on the Rutgers bullying case

By Dr. Leah Hollis, author of Unequal Opportunity: Fired without cause? Filing with the EEOC…

As a Rutgers alumna I was asked today “what do you think of the sentencing of Dhuran Ravi for the cyber bullying incident of Tyler Clementi?”    Ravi was originally facing up to 10 years in jail for a cyber bullying incident that led to Tyler Clementi  committing suicide.  Instead, Ravi faces 30 days in jail and a $10,000 fine. Was the sentence too light? Should the conviction be appealed?  Is the isolation faced by Ravi the last 20 months already sufficient?  Maybe some of the other questions we should ask, where do kids learn this behavior?  Who teachers civility?  How does this behavior continue to manifest as we supposedly grow up and into careers?

I had to pause. I am a 20 plus year veteran of student services, and worked in academic affairs and students affairs.  I have seen the best and worst of student behavior at some of the most elite campuses.  The antics of any dorm life can shame unwitting bystanders.  In this case however, a young man is dead, and the lives of the three students, (remember the hall mate Molly Wei who hosted the webcam) are irrevocably changed.  Therefore I initially say the obvious, no one is a winner.

 

Our society is chocked full of competitive and negative behaviors where decency is the least of concerns.  We learn competition and incivility from the school play yard when someone  was berated for being  weaker, smaller, younger or just different than the mainstream. Remember the days were students would race at the school bell to see who won the latest skirmish. The battle cry  FIGHT FIGHT?!? would bring a small troop of prepubescent spectators to witness the latest bullying battle. On a smaller scale, it was nothing for kids to punch, kick and push others, regardless of gender.   What we learned in kindergarten is often carried through our school years and college. Further, such behavior moves with us into middle age and our professional lives.  And consistent with the current behaviors regarding bullying,  people at one time or another tend to be on both the giving and receiving end of this behavior.

 

As the last few years of media coverage have confirmed that  bullying affects all age groups.  Youngsters in grade school and high school are facing bullying; as a result several states have anti bullying state wide policies.  New Jersey has one of the strictest anti bullying school policies in the nation.  On the heels of the Tyler Clementi tragedy, Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2011 was introduced in Congress to protect university students from harassment and bullying.  . In the face of pervasive workplace bullying, 18 states have proposed healthy workplace bills to stem the insulting, intimidating and socially isolating behavior in the workplace which defines bullying.

 

The unfortunate behavior continues however every day at all levels as bullying pervades school yards, college campus and the workplace.  Peers bully peers;  and bosses bully staff.  The results come in health issues, social isolation, costly disengagement; and at all age group levels, suicide has been an last ditch option tragically sought by the target to escape the tyranny.  Over half of school aged children reported witnessing bullying in school.  This number is consistent with the workplace bullying reports.  School aged children, like adults, disengage from a toxic environment through sick days. One in ten students drop out of school because of bullying; this is synonymous with the 25% of adult bullying targets who leave organizations after enduring treatment from a bullying.  The trends are at all age levels as there is nothing new under the sun because many people will do just about anything to escape constant torment. Nonetheless, the behaviors and tragedies in youthful age groups also manifest in the workplace as well.

 

So in reflecting back on Dhuran Ravi and Tyler Clementi, their names will be inextricable tied as a college bullying tragedy where one young man lost his life that late night on the George Washington Bridge and another had his image paraded through the media nationally that he will spend close to a life time recovering from the stigma.  Both families are devastated, a young man is dead and a college community left shell shocked about the loss in its community so early in their careers.

 

Perhaps the questions should not revolve around the after math of a tragic case, but in consideration on how to model civility and decency from our youth. People only grow up to be bigger versions of themselves. Consequently, in all cases of bullying, regardless of age group, school yard or workplace, no one is a winner.

 

Dr. Leah Hollis, President of Patricia Berkly LLC is a diversity and healthy workplace trainer based in greater Philadelphia.  Her book Fired without Cause, Filing with the EEOC is available on Amazon.com.  Her second study on workplace bullying in higher education is in progress for summer 2012.  She has been a contributor to ERE.net, Payscale, and AOLJobs/Huffington Post. Visit her at www.diversitytrainingconsultants.com