Organizational Lessons from the LA Clipper’s Owner’s Comments

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling alleged racist’s comments have dominated the news last couple of days.  In case you are unaware, a tape was leaked that contained an alleged conversation between Mr. Sterling and his girlfriend (it should be noted the Mr. Sterling denies that he is the voice represented on the tape,) where he allegedly makes racist comments regarding African-Americans, including NBA legend Magic Johnson.  The NBA has begun an investigation, and the results of that investigation will be released soon.

While watching this play out over the weekend, some quick takeaways for organizations emerged, including:

  • We are all pretending not to know something!  Many people are outraged by Mr. Sterling’s comments, but many are not surprised.  His past is littered with incidents that have many asking, “What did he do now?”  Many organizations have individuals who pay lip service to equality, diversity, and inclusion – and everyone knows who they are!  They sit in C-suites, on boards, and in various levels of leadership.  The strategy is to confine them a small area of responsibility and try to keep them from doing too much damage.  However, like Mr. Sterling, they will always find a way to gain public attention.
  • Your Mic is Always On!  We all have opinions, thoughts, and prejudices!  However, never think that sharing those things in private means they will stay private.  In a time where everyone has a camera phone, with a voice recorder, be advised, that privacy is a thing of the past.  If you do not want it repeated, do not say it!  Organizations must ensure employees and leadership understand that when they speak, it may be hard for the listener to separate their comments from the organization.
  •  Racism and discrimination still exist!   Despite what the Supreme Court would have one believe, racism and discrimination still exist in society and the corporate world.  Some have become savvier in hiding their true feelings and intentions, but it is bubbling just beneath the surface.  Organizations must be attuned to the workplace climate to detect where discord and inequality are festering.  Communication channels must be free flowing so information can reach the top, middle, and bottom.  Falsely believing that everyone’s world is like that of those in the C-suite is a delusion, at best.
  • Teaching is repeating until learning takes place!  There is always a chorus of individuals asking why we keep providing diversity training.  The answer is because learning has not taken place!  Until organizations see the change manifested in the workplace, training must continue.  I know there has been a host of bad training over the years, but you do not stop it, you fix it and keep going!
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Mitsuwa Marketplace Violated Law by Paying Hispanic Workers Less Than Others for Identical Jobs, Federal Agency Charged

EEOC PRESS RELEASE 4-17-13

 

Edgewater Japanese Market to Pay $250,000 to Hispanic Employees Paid less Due to National Origin

NEWARK, N.J. — Mitsuwa Corporation, which does business as Mitsuwa Marketplace, a large Japanese market in Edgewater, N.J., will pay $250,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, since 2005, Mitsuwa has routinely paid Hispanic employees less than non-Hispanics doing the same work because of their national origin. The case stemmed from a discrimination charge from an individual employee who complained of being underpaid because he was Hispanic. An investigation by the EEOC revealed that a class of Hispanic employees was discriminated against in this way over several years.

Discrimination in compensation based on employees’ national origin violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark (Civil Action No. 09-CV-04733 [ES][CLW]) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree settling the suit, signed by federal Judge Esther Salas, Mitsuwa will also give pay increases to current Hispanic employees amounting to a combined total of approximately $30,000 per year for three years.

Mitsuwa is enjoined from discriminating against Hispanic employees. The consent decree provides for a monitor who will periodically review Mitsuwa’s compensation practices and discrimination complaints, and will report to EEOC. Mitsuwa has also revised its anti-discrimination policies and will train its managers and employees on Title VII, including the prohibition against compensation discrimination based on national origin.

“Employers everywhere should know that Title VII insures that they cannot pay employees less based on their national origin, just as they cannot discriminate in compensation based on sex or race,” said EEOC District Director Kevin Berry.

“The EEOC stands ready to assist employees who are being undercompensated compared to similarly situated co-workers simply because of their national origin,” added New York Regional Attorney Elizabeth Grossman.

Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws, or who may be reluctant or unable to exercise their rights, is a national priority identified in EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan. These policies can include disparate pay.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

How Discrimination Links Lives Together from PLOS BLOGS

This is an interesting article on the impact of discrimination on the people involved and those around them from PLOS BLOGS.  We all know that discrimination and the perception of discrimination can physically , mentally, and emotionally impact people in varying degrees.  This article adds a new lens to the impact.   Read the full article at How Discrimination Links Lives Together.

EEOC – African American Workgroup Report

Executive Summary From EEOC Report

In January 2010, Carlton Hadden, Director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Office of Federal Operations (OFO), commissioned a work group to identify the obstacles that remain in the federal workplace that hinder equal employment opportunities for African Americans.

This workgroup was created in furtherance of the EEOC’s overall mission to eradicate discrimination in both the federal sector and private sector workplace. EEOC’s OFO ensures equality of opportunity within the federal sector by implementing its regulatory and adjudicatory authority and through use of its oversight function.

In advancement of the mission of the Commission and OFO’s oversight responsibilities, between 2010 and 2012, the African American workgroup engaged in a series of discussions with EEO officials, various affinity groups, and subject matter experts. The workgroup decided that it would be most efficient to hold these discussions in conjunction with a similar workgroup commissioned to identify obstacles for Women in the federal workplace.

In summation, the workgroup began the dialogue about obstacles facing African Americans by engaging in a roundtable discussion with federal EEO Directors, who are responsible for the implementation of a continuing affirmative employment program to promote equal employment opportunity and to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices and policies. Next, the workgroup engaged in roundtable dialogue with federal Special Emphasis Program Managers, who are tasked with assisting agencies in ensuring equal opportunity for specific protected classes that are underrepresented. Subsequently, the workgroup held roundtable discussions with various affinity groups, including Blacks in Government (BIG); Federally Employed Women (FEW); and the African American Federal Executives Association (AAFEA).

Additionally, the workgroup dialogued with non-federal interest and advocacy groups, including the Equal Justice Society, the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia, Workplace Flexibility 2010, and the Equal Rights Center. Finally, we received input from academic expert Dr. Paula Caplan, who is the Voices of Diversity Project Director for the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University and an author, noted research psychologist, and professor. We assured our dialogue partners that their contributions to this discussion would only be generally reported and not specifically attributed to any particular dialogue partner.

Our dialogue partners identified many obstacles to achieving equality for African Americans in the federal workforce, and provided recommendations for overcoming those obstacles. For the most part, the impediments identified below were independently and repeatedly identified by our dialogue partners as the most formidable obstacles to equal employment opportunities for African Americans in the federal sector. We note that while we are not issuing a traditional report with findings and conclusions of the EEOC, we are issuing this report to memorialize the obstacles and recommendations identified by our dialogue partners.

Read the full report at  African American Workgroup Report.

Obama May Be Reconsidering Executive Order To Protect LGBT Federal Workers

Last year, LGBT groups heavily pressured President Obama to issue an executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Obama had made a campaign pledge to do so in 2008, but the White House announced in April 2012 that it would not be issuing such […]/

via Obama May Be Reconsidering Executive Order To Protect LGBT Federal Workers.

Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc. Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

EEOC Press Release

Male Supervisor Subjected Male Employees to Sexual Touching and Comments, Federal Agency Charges

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc., a Charlotte-based provider of private security and public safety services, violated federal law by subjecting male employees to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.  The EEOC also charged the company with unlawfully suspending, demoting and/or discharging some male employees for complaining about sexual harassment or filing discrimination charges with the EEOC.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Officers James Pedersen, Eric Steele, Daniel Griffis and a class of similarly situated male employees were subjected to sexual harassment by a captain and a lieutenant employed by the company.  The EEOC contends the captain made offensive comments to his male subordinate employees, solicited nude pictures from them, asked male employee to undress in front of him, and solicited male employees for sex.  The captain and lieutenant forced male employees to accompany them to gay strip bars while on duty.  The captain touched the chests and genitals of male employees.  Additionally, the captain offered promotions to male employees in exchange for sex.  The lieutenant asked a male employee if he had sex with males or females.

Male employees complained about the captain’s and lieutenant’s conduct by telling them to stop, and they complained to their supervisor and the company’s owner/CEO, the EEOC said.  In spite of the complaints, the company failed to prevent and promptly correct the harassment.  In addition, certain employees who complained were suspended, demoted and/or discharged, the agency charges.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc, Civil Action No. 3:13-CV-39), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.  The agency seeks back pay for those claimants entitled, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for all claimants, and injunctive relief.

“All employees, men and women alike, are entitled to a workplace free from sexual harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.  “It is particularly alarming when sexual harassment is perpetrated by a high-ranking supervisor, the company shuns its legal responsibility to stop it, and employees suffer retaliatory acts for lawfully voicing their concerns.”

Tina Burnside, supervisory trial attorney in the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, added, “Under Title VII, employers have a legal duty to ensure that sexual harassment does not permeate the workplace, and employers are responsible for ensuring that their supervisors know that sexual harassment is against the law and will not be tolerated.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.