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Top Five Mistakes Government Management Officials Make When Dealing with EEO Complaints and How They Can Avoid Them!

We find that government management officials make these five mistakes when dealing with EEO complaints. Here are the mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Rejecting the Claim

Avoiding Mistake #1 – The claim identifies an issue in the workplace that should be addressed. Looking at the issue from the employee’s perspective may help you to find a resolution.

Mistake #2 – Resistance to Change

 Avoiding Mistake #2 – Be open to modifications in the workplace. Consider the issue(s) raised as an opportunity to initiate improvements that will further the agency’s mission as well as enhance the work environment.

Mistake #3 – Rushing through the Process

Avoiding Mistake #3 – Review the claim carefully and seize the opportunity to address a problem. Take the time to consider the facts surrounding the claim and any actions you can take toward a positive resolution.

Mistake #4 – Failure to Document

Avoiding Mistake #4 – Be sure the actions you take and the decisions you make are recorded and in conformance with appropriate workplace practices.

Mistake #5 – Appearance of Retaliation

Avoiding Mistake #5 – Avoid actions that may single out an employee involved in the complaint process. Be alert to how the decisions you make could be interpreted as biased or negatively impacting a certain employee or employee group.

For more information on our professional EEO services, please call the EEO professionals at PREEMPT today! You’ll be glad you did! Remember our motto, “Empowerment through Equal Opportunity!”

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Top 5 Mistakes Complainants Make When Filing Complaints Against the U.S. Government and How They Can Avoid Them!

We often see complainants making the same 5 mistakes when filing complaints against the federal government. Below, we outline the complaints and show you how to avoid them!

Mistake # 1 – Lack of Understanding of the Federal Government EEO process

Avoid Mistake #1 – Learn the steps of the formal complaints process so you will learn how your claim will be processed and how the facts of your case will be analyzed by the Agency.

Mistake # 2 – Stating an Imprecise Claim

Avoid Mistake #2 – Be specific and timely in identifying the issue(s) of your complaint. Be sure to include the dates of the events at issue and meet the regulatory timeframe requirements of the EEO complaints process.

Mistake #3 – No Documentation

Avoid Mistake #3 – Gather and present evidence to substantiate your claim. Keep a record of the events at issue that includes an explanation of what happened, when it happened, who was involved, and the names of any witnesses.

Mistake #4 – Not Connecting your Claim to your Protected Status

Avoid Mistake #4 – Show how your protected status (race, sex, age, etc.) impacted the action at issue. You need to show that connection to prove your claim.

Mistake #5 – Focusing on a Specific Resolution

Avoid Mistake #5 – Be open to options for resolving your claim. During the process you may learn new facts and/or circumstances that have an impact on your claim.

For more information on our professional EEO services, please call the EEO professionals at PREEMPT today! You’ll be glad you did! Remember our motto, “Empowerment through Equal Opportunity!”

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What Is Systemic Discrimination?

What the heck is Systemic Discrimination, you might ask?

During President Obama’s last press conference on January 18, 2017, he vowed to speak out as private citizen if he saw “systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion”. To the average lay person, he/she may still be scratching his/her head wondering, what the heck is “systemic discrimination”.

The first time I heard the words “systemic discrimination” was at a meeting that I had attended at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC. A group of mainly African American attorneys that had worked for the agency had a meeting with then Solicitor of Labor, Thomas S. Williamson, Jr., to discuss perceived discrimination at the agency. During that meeting, I had mentioned to Mr. Williams that when it was time for me to be considered for a promotion to the GS 14 pay grade, I was not considered for the promotion. Subsequently, I had discovered that one of my colleagues who happened to be a Caucasian male and was hired after I had been hired, was promoted to the GS 14 position. Mr. Williams then asked if I believed I had been subjected to “systemic discrimination”. At the time, I was a wage-hour employment lawyer so I had no idea what the term “system discrimination” meant.

According to the EEOC, “systemic discrimination” involves a pattern or practice, policy, or class case where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic area. Recently, the Secret Service agency agreed to pay a $24-million-dollar settlement to settle a long standing race discrimination lawsuit that had been brought by African American Secret Service Agents that had been systemically denied opportunities for promotions, raises, etc.

Subsequently, after my experience of not being promoted to the GS 14 pay grade, I left the agency about a few months later to strike out on my own and start my own business so that in the future, I would not have to depend on someone else to give me a hard earned promotion or pay raise in order to fulfill my true economic potential or increase my standard of living. Although this was my way of dealing with what appeared to be discrimination, I realize we all have to deal with life’s adversities, including discrimination…. systemic or otherwise, in our own ways.

As an employer/employee, are you thinking about whether “systemic discrimination” may exist in your workplace or are you thinking about starting your own EEO business? If so, call the EEO professionals at PREEMPT today. You’ll be glad you did! Remember our motto, “Empowerment through Equal Opportunity!

How To Promote Diversity

How To Promote Diversity At Work

Is your organization fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment? If not, you could be missing out! Creating diversity and inclusion within your organization has a positive effect on your bottom line and your organization’s culture; it makes your organization attractive to job hunters seeking inclusion, acceptance, and the pursuit of happiness. Consider the following points as you hire new team members and find out how to promote diversity:

  1. Create a vision. Your workforce should correspond to the community in which you operate. Develop a hiring strategy that includes diversity and inclusion of minorities. Tap into local resources or community connections like churches, colleges, or cultural institutions to connect with potential candidates. You may also consider enlisting help from nonprofits like the National Urban League or online sites like Diversity Working that offer searchable channels of minority job hunters.
  2. Look from within. Ask your staff for referrals; they may know qualified candidates who are seeking jobs. By selecting new hires that are endorsed by current employees, you improve the relationship of your existing employees by showing you trust and respect their recommendations. This established relationship will also help new employees adjust to their new positions. You may find that your current employees are your best recruiters.
  3. Be prepared. Devise and implement an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy that follows the federal EEOC guidelines. As part of your firm’s “best hiring practices”, initiate a credible hiring process that is age, race, gender and minority neutral. Organize an internal committee to implement and monitor the EEO policy, provide diversity and inclusion staff training, and generate new ways to sustain diversity and inclusion in the daily work experience.
  4. Educate your staff. Don’t assume everyone on your staff understands the importance of diversity and inclusion; it’s your job to train them. From top management to the entry level position, everyone needs to fully understand the benefits of diversity and inclusion and your commitment to supporting the practice. Be the kind of organization willing to accommodate cultural and religious holidays, flexible schedules, and potentially day care services; all attractive benefits to encourage and stimulate the employee experience.
  5. Keep them engaged. Dedicate as much time to retention as you do to recruiting. New hires are most vulnerable the first few weeks as they explore the job and the organization culture. Start off creating a relationship between the new hire and a seasoned employee (who will act as a mentor for the first few weeks.) Mentors can help communicate opportunities for advancement and articulate the future direction of the company, while building a relationship of mutual respect with the new hire. Don’t forget about your current staff; they need attention too. Find creative ways to keep your talent inspired; otherwise you run the risk of turnover.
  6. Mix it up. Build project teams with diversity and inclusion in mind. Bring together workers who have never worked together but bring varied strengths to the team. For example, a team comprised of three different generations can achieve a synergistic goal by recognizing they have different work styles but the same commitment to the end result. In the end, the team absorbs a deeper understanding of commitment through diversity and inclusion.
  7. Get wise. Recruiting is the easy part, its retaining that can prove to be more difficult. This holds true for organization in less diverse regions where relocated minority employees may feel disconnected. Employers may need to help new hires adjust to the new work culture as well as a new town. If it doesn’t work out, learn from the experience. Create an exit interview to assess why minorities are leaving the company. Learn from the information you receive as feedback and be willing to make changes. On the flip side, monitor and record your success stories of happy employees as a recruiting tool.

Is your organization’s diversity and inclusion in tune with your organization’s culture? Do you know how to weed out employee biases that may lead to EEO discrimination lawsuits? Do you know how to promote diversity? Let PREEMPT assist your organization with attracting and retaining valuable talent. Call 202-434-4544 or email us to schedule a consultation.

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How To Avoid Discrimination In The Workplace

Do you know the mood of your organization? Maybe there is a bully roaming in the lunch room or an office jokester that went too far. An employer should mandate training for staff and management that focuses on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior at all levels. Remember, tone is everything: set a tone for your employees to feel comfortable and confident they can come to you with a valid complaint and know they will be heard. Train managers to recognize tension and any disruption of organization code of conduct. If a need is identified, reinforce with specialized training. Nip it in the bud and take action before it becomes an elevated issue. Follow these tips below on how to avoid discrimination in the workplace.

Educate. What is discrimination? The United States has enacted laws since 1964 to prevent job discrimination. These laws prohibit discrimination based on age, race, disabilities, genetic information, gender and national origin. Known as the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws, or EEO laws, these laws and the Civil Service Reform Act are intended to ensure all employees of fair treatment in the workplace. This also includes harassment by coworkers or management.

Engage and communicate. Can you sense a change in disposition? If a normally upbeat employee suddenly withdrawals from productive conversation this may signal something is up. It is important to create a culture to inspire communication at every level.   When open communication is encouraged, your management team must commit to improving the employer-employee relationship. Employees will feel more at ease discussing sensitive topics to a manager who listens to understand and formulates a solution.

Be seen. Are you up for a weekly walkthrough? There is nothing more motivating to an employee than to see the boss in the midst of the day-to-day. Take the time to observe employees working, interacting in the break-room, and networking during the shift. Make it the standard rather than a surprise visit, which can prove to be intimidating. Ask questions, answer questions, and quickly address things you identify as a potential discrimination or harassment issue. As an example, if you see a distasteful screen saver that may offend, address it immediately. However, there is a fine line between observation and micro-managing; keep in mind your task at hand is to engage employees and keep the communication flowing. This exercise will also indicate the need for training or policy updates.

Monitor, document and evaluate. Do you participate in the review process? Generally, if an employee is experiencing discrimination or harassment, there may be revealing signs within your evaluation process. Look for changes in productivity or disengagement with co-workers. Be sure your evaluation process offers a comment or a feedback section for employees to express concerns in writing.

Create an exit interview. Do you know why employees are leaving?   Investigate your turnover rate, it could be holding key information. Of course, you will have staff leaving for reasons like pay or relocation, but you may want to dig a little deeper. An exit interview is designed to gain valuable feedback from the employee leaving, in hopes it will provide insight into areas of improvement for the organization, the existence of discrimination, and need for additional training.

Are you ready for the next step and to learn how to avoid discrimination in the workplace? Get the consulting you need to recognize biases that could lead to discrimination and harassment within your organization! Let PREEMPT Corp help with a holistic approach to eliminate lawsuits and increase opportunities. Contact us to schedule an in-depth consultation to establish your consulting needs and create an action plan to keep your organization on top!

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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Tips for Landing EEOC Jobs

Our daily news is filled with stories of inequality and injustice as our country still struggles with equality and rights of our working citizens. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a government agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Are you ready to make a difference and help protect against discrimination? Then a government job with the EEOC may be a right fit for you.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, there are about 2.3 million federal civilian employees and about a quarter of them are now eligible for retirement. As government agencies begin to lose older workers, the goal is to find experienced replacements. Many federal departments are unable to fill these positions internally with qualified applicants, at which time they seek the ideal candidate externally. If you are looking for a career, or maybe a second-act career, a government job may be just want you’re looking for! The government web portal USAjobs.gov is an excellent starting point to learn about federal agencies and the positions they need to fill. You can search the site by your location, the type of job you want, and the department you’d like to work in. For example, if you want to work for the EEOC, search that agency for EEOC jobs.

To help you find and apply for federal jobs, follow these recommendations and you’ll be able to land a job with the EEOC in no time!

  1. Get familiar with the territory. With hundreds of agencies and departments, the federal government creates its own mission and culture for each. Take the time to find those that are a good match for your interests, skill set, and experience.
  2. Search available job opportunities. As you will see, there are plenty of opportunities for people with all types of backgrounds and experience ranging from attorneys to statisticians, to health care providers to museum personnel. All federal agencies are required to list their openings publicly and most do so on USAjobs.gov. But some agencies prefer to post on their own sites, so be sure to check those too.
  3. Engage your network. Use online tools to connect with colleagues and former employers to network with people or groups who are tied to or work with the federal government agencies. Social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are great avenues for research and means for access to employees already working in government.
  4. Ask questions! If you know someone who is a government employee talk to them and about openings and gain insight on the application and interview process.       If you are in college, check with your college’s career services to see if there is a relationship with any government agencies or recruiters in your field of study.
  5. Be resumé ready. The terminology used by the federal government can be tricky, so get familiar with job descriptions and key words or phrases and incorporate them into your resumé. GoGovernment.org is a great resource for government jobs and building a resume for a government position.
  6. Apply for a job. Create an account on USAjobs.com by entering your profile information. Once the account is created you can then search jobs in the database. When you find a job of interest review the qualifications and evaluation section to determine if you qualify for the position. Carefully follow the instructions in the “How to Apply” section of each job posting. You can log into your account for updates and application status for positions you’ve applied. Follow up with agencies with additional questions; agency contact information will be available upon resume submission.
  7. Be patient. It can take four months or longer to get a job offer. While federal agencies aim to fill most openings within 80 days, the actual time from application to hire will vary based on the department’s needs and resources. So be prepared to wait it out. Your patience could be well rewarded.

Before looking at any career job announcement, answer this question: what is most important to you in your career? Keep in mind that there are hundreds of agencies, professional fields, and locations for federal employment. This creates a network of approximately two million employees and thousands of open positions. If you are not clear on what you want, do your homework and find a good fit for your skills and experience. On the flipside, if you know what you’re looking for, like an EEOC job, go for it! If you need career training on how to become certified as an EEO investigator or counselor in the federal industry, contact the professionals at PREEMPT Corp.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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EEOC Investigating Hollywood for Gender Discrimination

A new study by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism released a week before the 88th Academy Awards finds a startling lack of diversity in Hollywood studios. From the films, television shows, and even boards of major media companies, Hollywood remains male-centric, monochromatic and overwhelmingly heterosexual.

This study also comes as Hollywood studios are being investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for gender discrimination. This examination was prompted by women who pointed out the lack of films produced, written, and directed by women.

Read more about the startling study here and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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What is EEOC?

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an agency of the federal government responsible for enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and amendments. The law prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. In addition, it is illegal to discriminate against a person that complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Consider these tips if processing a claim with the EEOC:

  • Stay vigilant. Monitor the process and stay on top of your submission. Check periodically with the EEOC to find out what is happening with your case.
  • Be assertive. If some EEOC action, or inaction, is causing you serious problems, bring it to the attention of the people handling your case.
  • Read and reread the fine print. When you file a charge with the EEOC, a worker there will ask you to read and sign a written statement summarizing your claim. Be sure to scrutinize the form carefully before signing. If the document is not accurate, ask for corrections before signing.
  • Keep your options open. Filing a claim with the EEOC does not prevent you from taking other action to deal with your case. You still have a right to try to solve the problem on your own or use a company complaint procedure. You also have the right to hire an attorney to file a lawsuit, if that is appropriate for your situation.

If you have a question or concern about what the EEOC does or other EEO/Diversity/HR topics, contact PREEMPT today.