In my book, The Whistleblower: Defeating Bullies, Harassers & Management Gang Retaliation, I devote an entire section espousing my views on the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) labyrinth. In short, I contend that the EEO process is primarily just an illusion.
A controversial stance? Of course! Yet I have never been known to shy away from controversy.
Some who work within the EEO field will be inclined to throw rotten tomatoes at me because of my comments. Some lawyers who have made a nice, profitable business off of EEO cases will want to stone me in the middle of town square. They will fear the possibility of losing potential EEO clients as a result of what I have to say here.
Nevertheless, I welcome the harsh criticisms to come if it possibly means that I have struck a nerve, such that people are moved to re-examine the EEO process in efforts to improve upon it. One has to disrupt the soil in order for the seeds to grow.
Before sharing my views on the EEO system, allow me to assert that the following are my views only, which of course I am entitled to hold and to share with you. I do not herein offer any advice as to whether or not to engage the EEO process, or how to navigate the EEO terrain should you elect to go that route.
In the final analysis, should you ever find yourself at the EEO crossroads, you should always do your own research. Be resourceful, and make your own determinations as to what help you need and how best to address your unique circumstances.
With that introductory caveat aside, I do not waffle as to my position. I shall state forthrightly that I am not a proponent of the EEO system, for several reasons.
First of all, I think it is a very lengthy, convoluted process that seems to contain so many twists and turns that ultimately do not end up anywhere useful. Secondly, in order to prevail on a typical EEO complaint, for the most part one has to meet a standard that often proves extremely difficult if not downright impossible, especially in contemporary times.
I am referring to the “because of” standard. That is, the complainant normally has to show that because of his/her legally protected status, e.g., race, age, gender, disability, etc., the employer engaged in unlawful discriminatory conduct. In modern times, managers are not likely to be so dense as to overtly discriminate against employees. They have found more clever ways to discriminate without handing the employee complainant an easy EEO victory.
That is why, according to numerous sources, statistically nowadays it is not very common to prevail in EEO cases. Management gangs are well aware of this fact, and are therefore not particularly afraid of an EEO complaint.
Mind you, this is not to say that managers across the country are not capable of demonstrating such idiocy, and indeed some EEO cases are quite winnable. But again, I do not think victory is the norm in such actions.
Therefore, one is left with a situation where one knows in her heart that she is being subjected to unlawful discrimination at work, yet feels she cannot meet the “because of” standard. Management gangs are savvy enough to circumvent the EEO system by finding a token employee who will say: “I am [fill in the blank] and management has always treated me wonderfully.”
Out goes the “because of” allegation.
Furthermore, I am not an advocate of the EEO process because of the strong network within the EEO community. I successfully filed a whistleblower retaliation and harassment action against, in part, the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Headquarters (DHS). Some of the very officials named in my action had worked in the EEO field throughout their professional career, making many friends who would go to bat for them.
In fact, the DC Headquarters for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the very agency that adjudicates EEO matters, was located in the same building where I suffered daily retaliation, bullying and harassment by “EEO, civil rights, diversity and inclusion” officials. Imagine how many lunches and social get togethers were shared between EEOC officials and DHS EEO management gang bullies who were just an elevator ride away. Imagine the comradery established over the years.
Lastly, I have witnessed just how political most (though hopefully not all) EEO offices are. EEO managers at the upper echelon are hired by management – often personal friends who skirt the HR merit process to bring on their pals.
Most EEO complaints are filed against management. Well, you figure it out. Where do you think the typical EEO manager’s loyalty is going to be placed? In justice? Or in the pal who literally gave him/her the lucrative position?
In fairness, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with EEO staff who possessed some of the brightest minds and caring hearts of any profession I have ever encountered. These individuals truly wanted to do the right thing and promote equal justice. Yet they had bosses, higher ranking EEO officials who had a separate political agenda other than equal justice.
Now, having stoked the flames of controversy, let me be clear as to what I am saying and, conversely, what I am not saying. I am boldly saying that, for the foregoing reasons, I do not have the highest regard for the EEO process.
However, I am absolutely not saying that the EEO process is incapable of being helpful and can never deliver justice. The process can and has worked for some complainants.
Like any other program designed to help balance the scales of justice, the EEO system needs work to make it better, more efficient and fair, and more accessible to the many who must rely upon it. The Equal Employment Opportunity system is not yet “equal.”
Equality under the EEO system is but a mere illusion.
Attorney Shenandoah Titus is the author of The Whistleblower: Defeating Bullies, Harassers & Management Gang Retaliation (available on Amazon). He is the Founder and CEO of WARN (Whistleblower Anti-Bullying Resource Network).
For more information, visit: www.warn-honor.com