Self-Help

Are You Experiencing Discrimination at Work? Signs and What to Do about It

Workplace Discrimination

When one experiences workplace discrimination, it can be disheartening. For the victim, lost income, reduced work productivity and dissatisfaction, isolation, stress, and unemployment or underemployment often result. Places where workplace discrimination occurs frequently suffer from low employee morale, high turnover, and unfavorable productivity. Since work is an important part of true inclusion in our society, one must highlight how workplace discrimination divides and marginalizes people, both as individuals and groups.

What is Illegal Workplace Discrimination?

To count as discrimination in the legal sense, actions must violate legal protections. All U.S. workers are protected by federal law, which specifically forbids discrimination based on color, national origin, race, religion, sex, mental or physical disability, genetic information, pregnancy, or parenthood.

State laws also protect workers from discrimination based on those characteristics, plus other ones enacted by state legislatures. For example, many states have laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation. Also, many cities have laws that specifically prohibit other forms of workplace discrimination.

What are the Signs of Workplace Discrimination?

Signs of workplace discrimination may be overt and/or subtle. For example, a boss directly hinging a promotion on sexual favors would be overt sexual discrimination and harassment. A boss hinting about sexual favors and then claiming an employee who didn’t respond has poor work performance would be a more subtle form of sexual discrimination and harassment.

While overt signs of workplace discrimination are clear, subtle signs often start with small phenomena and then increase over time, frequently engendering a hostile and unhealthy atmosphere. Subtle signs often reveal themselves as patterns. For example, a male employee may make increasingly offensive comments about a female coworker after she refused to date him. The comments may begin as ones open to interpretation, but, over time, the harasser continues the pattern while his comments grow increasingly offensive, which constitutes a clear case of sexual harassment.

Signs of workplace discrimination often manifest themselves in adverse actions taken against an employee. Adverse actions include disciplinary action, failure to promote, demotion, unlawful retaliation, failure to accommodate protected leave, and wrongful termination. Because of equal opportunity employment safeguards, when an adverse action is taken on the basis of a protected characteristic, bad actors usually try to camouflage their discriminatory conduct by claiming a pretext for the adverse action.

A manager, for example, may refuse to promote a woman who earned a higher position because he thinks women are inferior leaders, which violates the law. To cover his tracks, he may give her an unjustified poor performance review and then use it as a pretext to deny the promotion. An adverse action paired with a pretext is a conspicuous sign of discrimination.

What Should Discrimination Victims Do about It?

Though a natural fear of rocking the proverbial boat can emerge, discrimination victims should contact their organization’s human resources department or a company manager. Once the employee has notified the human resources director, the company becomes obligated to investigate and correct any illegal discrimination. In many organizations, this solves the problem; in others, unfortunately, it yields no real change. Human resources departments are to intervene in ways that protect victims and rectify their problems.

In other organizations, investigations may favor the harasser because of power dynamics, politics, and other reasons. In this case, victims should consult an employment lawyer immediately. An employment attorney can inform victims about options available.

Victims of discrimination can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or their state’s Department of Human Rights. These agencies will investigate and attempt to settle the matter. If the matter cannot be settled by the agencies, victims can file a lawsuit in state or federal court.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Resources Consulted

The Balance

Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The American Association of University Women

The Nest

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What You Need to Know When Going Back to School as an Adult

Working Adult College Students

It’s never too late to obtain a degree, but going back to school as an adult can be difficult. As an adult, you may have many other responsibilities that your (much younger) fellow students don’t have, such as a full-time job, career or parenting responsibilities. Even if you can devote yourself entirely to being a full-time student, you may still feel like a duck out of the water. Whether you’re jumping into a four-year degree program, or you think it might be a good idea to take some online classes. Here are three things you need to know when going back to school as an adult.

Talk to an Advisor before Registering or Enrolling

As an adult, your educational needs will most likely be strictly academic rather than both academic and social. While an incoming college first-year student might benefit from living on campus and staying at one school for all four years, your best option might be to take online classes at a community college before enrolling at a four-year institution. Speaking with a college admissions counselor may help.

Also, Collegewise counselors are passionate about “creating customized plans and setting deadlines to ensure that students complete their applications and essays thoughtfully, effectively, and early.” 

You May be Exempt from Some Classes Based on Experience

Adults have the benefit of work experience that most first-year college students do not possess. Another way college admissions counseling can help you is in determining if any of your applicable work experience might exempt you from having to take certain classes. The fewer classes you have to take, the sooner you can obtain your degree and the less that degree will cost you.

It’s Going to be a Big Change

Working adults who become college students must alter the lifestyles. How often do you need to take your work home? If often, then you may find it difficult to set aside time for research and homework after you arrive home from work. Although it may seem unmanageable to work a full-time job and attend college, you can manage both. With careful time management and dedicated preparation, you can do it. Think of the goal at the end to keep yourself in high spirits, and try to enjoy the shift in the atmosphere of the classroom versus the workplace.

Remember, receiving academic advising from an experienced higher education professional is critical to a first-time student’s success. While effective college admissions counseling isn’t the sexiest topic, it can make the difference between satisfying college experience and an unsatisfying one.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

How the Choices You Make Can Turn Your World Upside Down

Consequences of Choices

Choices have consequences; therefore, think before you act. The decisions a person makes can have a positive or negative outcome. Either way, it’s wise to select the right choices so you can be sure you’re on the right path. Here are some reasons why you should think before you act.

Committing a Crime

It might be intensely entertaining to watch someone commit a crime in a movie. The criminal seems brave and daring with a horrible attitude. Remember it is acting, thus stimulating your imagination, not reality. In your everyday, real life, committing a crime can change your life. You could go to jail or even prison. Legal action may be required, and you might need an attorney to represent you. Make intelligent decisions to avoid criminal activity.

Have quality friends, friends devoted to engaging in productive phenomena. Really cogitate about how your friends and family would feel about your poor choices. Would they be ashamed or feel sad that you ruined your life? Think about how the consequences of your actions could affect other people.

Severe Punishment

Spending even a small amount of time in jail isn’t in any way easy. Prison time can prove so trying, so mind-altering that an individual can decide to continue violating the law even after returning to civil society. Another prisoner may have learned a harsh lesson and choose to become more spiritual.

Even if you aren’t arrested, committing a crime can change your life. Your conscience will bother you whether you notice it or not. It could manifest itself in ways you don’t see. It could even lead to self-destruction: you possibly falling prey to alcoholism, substance abuse or worse.

Losing Everything

As if being in jail or prison isn’t awful enough, you’re friends and family could sever communication with you. Most people don’t want to communicate and hang around unsavory individuals. Law-abiding people don’t particularly enjoy tolerating someone with malevolent intentions. When you intentionally engage in pernicious activities, one practical reality is you can (and inevitably will) lose your job. Failing to reform your behavior, therefore, might just leave you broke, busted and disgusted.

Is that all you want for your life? Hopefully not.  

If you have problems with self-control, you might want to see a trusted therapist. Learn to love yourself because that’s who you’ll be hurting the most in the end.

Educate yourself on moral and ethical conduct by reading books and attending classes that offer sound advice and instruction on ordering your life in ways reflective of authentic love, truth, and justice. 

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Resources Consulted

Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy

Sam Silverstein

Thought Catalog

Pick the Brain

 

Eliminating Toxic Relationships: Banishing Takers

Relationship Problems

(Photo Credit: Sandra Henderson)

Toxic relationships are harmful to your health and life. When you’re continuously giving to someone, and hardly ever receiving from him or her, that’s a toxic relationship; that’s a toxic imbalance. A person like this is a “Taker,” an individual who only values what he or she can receive from you. Takers don’t care about what’s going on in your life and what you may need; they’re only interested in how you can serve them. Mark the “Takers” in your life and flee from them.

Wise Up! You’re Being Robbed

While these Takers, these leeches are robbing you of your time, energy, money, health, and more, they’re progressing in life; however, you’re remaining stagnant or regressing. Are you investing so much in a person that you’re not passionately pursuing your own dreams and aspirations? Have you lost so much time, so much energy, so much of yourself investing in selfish people? Face the facts: They’re robbing you, and you’re letting them do it. Release yourself from the prison of Takers.

Takers Will Question Your Character and Commitment

When you finally release yourself from this carceral bondage, Takers will question your character, deceptively asserting that you’re not a good person because you’re no longer going to let them rob you of your value. Also, they will attempt to characterize you as selfish—as not having a true commitment to helping people. Well, you carried their butts for years and made them who they are today, so they know that isn’t true.

Because Takers are full of wicked pride and have fragile egos and self-esteem, you can shut them up by candidly letting them know that you made them. Yes, let them know you made them. You owe it to yourself, considering you gave so much to them over the years, to claim what you made, what you built: them. Since they don’t want to give you proper credit, and act as if they just arrived at their current station in life on their own, help to disabuse them of their self-delusions, their falsehoods: boldly tell them you made them, you built them. After you do this, they will not bother you much longer. Why? Because they’re exposed.

Invest in Yourself

A person who really knows his or her value and who really loves himself or herself will seriously invest in himself or herself. Don’t let no one and nothing keep you from living your best life, a life where you’re operating deftly and zealously—without any shackles—in your vocation. Spend the remainder of your life being the best version of you. This, of course, does not mean for you to become a selfish person; however, it does mean devote essential attention to your dreams and aspirations.

Conclusion: Seize the Day

If you’ve never read Robert Herrick’s poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” a classic carpe diem, a Latin aphorism typically translated as “seize the day,” poem urging people to make the most of the present moment, then please read it immediately. Herrick understands that humans have no time to waste. Stop wasting your time on selfish people. Love yourself enough to invest in yourself.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Stop Crippling People

Stressful Practices

(Photo Credit: Odyssey)

Although a true commitment to helping people is commendable, don’t become their crutch—don’t cripple them. At some point, you have to allow them to do things on their own. Yes, show them how it’s done, and then leave them to demonstrate that they want to put your teaching into practice. If you fail to end an unhealthy practice of attempting to solve everyone’s problems, or fail to discontinue doing everything they don’t want to or cannot do, then you’re placing yourself on a path to experiencing serious mental health issues (if you don’t already have them).

When will people ever grow if you never give them an opportunity?

Without a change of these toxic practices, people will take advantage of you—and you may never recognize it. You will inevitably destroy your body by trying to be a Superman or Superwoman for everyone. Let me take a moment to unsettle you: you’re really not a Superman or Superwoman—you’re really a “do-boy” or “do-girl,” meaning you’re getting used, hoodwinked, bamboozled.

Ameliorate the quality of your life by teaching people how to execute tasks, and then let them do the work. Learn to be more than a crutch for others.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Never Give Up by John Mason: Book Review

Never Give Up by John Mason

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

John Mason’s Never Give Up: You’re Stronger Than You Think offers readers 52 powerful “nuggets,” motivation keys, to encourage them to choose faith in what’s possible over toxic unbelief. Mason, a minister, inspirational speaker, and best-selling author of many books, including You Can Do It—If Others Say You Can’t and You Can Be Your Best—Starting Today, desires for people to remain committed to their dreams. The author contends that people fail to tap the perseverance that lies within them.

Mason’s principal inspiration for penning this book is those on the verge of surrendering their dreams. He desires for them to regain their commitment to their dreams and to pursue those dreams with passion. As I reflect on the millions of people living in poverty, I wonder how many of those individuals stopped believing in their dreams, how many stopped believing in themselves before falling prey to poverty.

The author notes that everyone has been blessed with certain abilities, and those abilities can propel them to success. Unfortunately, too many people compare their abilities with those of others, leading them often to feeling inadequate, an inadequacy that emerges because they’re too busy concentrating on what they don’t have instead of cherishing what they do have.

For Mason, when a person receives God’s salvation, He places purpose, His purpose, on the inside of him or her: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). The author states that one of the most vital points in this verse is “the fact that God doesn’t quit. Therefore, we can have great confidence that He will complete the good work He has begun in us” (p. 15). When we place our confidence in God’s confidence about us, then fear doesn’t have an opportunity to disrupt our belief in what God declares we can accomplish.  

I teach my students about the value of a question, and I was pleased to see Mason share a similar value and enthusiasm for inquiry. People often rush to arrive at an answer without investing the necessary time to pose the right question.  

Even if a person is not deeply spiritual or is an atheist, this book still offers significant value. Mason’s book serves as a constant reminder that believing in yourself is essential to executing any task and achieving your heart’s greatest desires.

I strongly recommend everyone to purchase and read this book. It’s one of those works you can treat as a devotional, one you can use as daily motivation to overcome challenges the day may present.

Revell Books provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Transformative Power of Reading

Transformative Power of Reading

(Photo Credit: Black Christian News Network)

One of the most powerful ways to awaken, develop, strengthen, and renew your inner intellectual is through reading substantive pieces each day. When you read substantive works, your knowledge grows, your imagination becomes broader, and your capacity to dream elevates. Reading permits you to not only discover many or most of the answers you seek, but also it enables you to formulate the right questions, questions that will lead you to a better, more interesting, and more successful life. This intentional focus on your inner intellectual will pay true dividends in enhancing your self-concept and naturally and ultimately your self-esteem.

When you read quality material, material that relates to your interests, aspirations, and search for answers, your purposeful reading will serve as a strong defense against negative factors affecting and influencing your self-concept and self-esteem.

Reading substantive literature, such as slave narratives, allows for you to place the challenges, barriers, and problems you face in their proper context. When you read slave narratives, you will learn about individuals who persevered and triumphed in impossible conditions—conditions much more difficult than you will ever be able to imagine. These stories about how American heroes and heroines endured these impossible conditions will inspire you to continue to strive for success—even when success falsely appears unlikely and barriers seem like they will never be conquered. Look for the strategies, values, principles, and thinking that led to those individuals’ success. Find ways to incorporate what contributed to their success into your own life.

Use your school library, public library, and the internet to find books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals. One of the greatest investments you can make in yourself each day is to read something that is going to support your interests and place you further on the path to achieving your goals. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t waste a moment in self-doubt. Expand your knowledge, expand your horizons, expand your imagination through a commitment to reading meaningful books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals.

A commitment to purposeful reading every day is one of the most powerful ways of strengthening your self-concept and self-esteem. With this commitment, your mind becomes occupied with self-advancement, pursuing your interests, and meeting your goals.

Let books and articles occupy your mind, limiting the amount of time for condemnation, peer pressure, and self-doubt to discourage you and halt your progress.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison