From the Government Business Examiner
by Donna Quesinberry
Blind inJustice of the Silent Majority
Given the nature of the economy today and the unemployment statistics - people may appear desperate to be employed. When the marketplace is as tight as it is currently, do we move toward greater leniency in the regulation of federal, state, or local direct hire or contract employment laws? Unfortunately, in order to continue working and to pay bills many countrymen or women will circumnavigate ethics and appropriateness in the day-to-day operation of business, through compliance by participating in a silent majority of blind injustice.
We have an extensive list of regulatory authorities that work to ensure that our rights are not thwarted in the marketplace. And, it appears most individuals presume that those authorities are always for the "other" person. The "don't rock the boat" mentality reins supreme in many environs whether federal, state, local or commercial. So what do we do when we see wrongdoing in the work center?
The most frequent punishment for in-house wrongdoing among coworkers is the water cooler gossip and defacto avoidance of said culprit. Occasionally, a complaint may be aired on a brisk walk around the block or at a private luncheon to "communicate" matters of concern. A manager may make notations in the personal record, but if the manager is the one at fault - everyone just sort of sucks it up and does nothing. Maybe a sigh or puff here and there, but nothing more. Why?
Typically, while offenses and even illegal behaviors take place around us within the working environment, it is reminiscent of a crime scene where three-fourth's of the observers would prefer to close their blinds or roll-up their car windows and drive on by. The witness that bares the cross of civility and goes to bat for a victim is often victimized themselves through their involvement. And, if they go a step further towards advocacy - they may be referred to as zealots. When referencing employment and contract law practices the advocate may be ascribed the unfair title of "disgruntled employee."
What is a disgruntled employee? Basically, they are the Judas gone wild of the work environment. They are the fellow or lass with a grenade at the market square waiting to "get everyone" in one fell swoop of a dislodged pin. What an unfair representation to give anyone who - rather than be disgruntled - files appropriate employment and|or contract law grievances - as litigation and adjudication are inherently different practices.
To be a disgruntled employee means rather than confront illegal activities by filing appropriate documentation toward a potentially proactive resolution that will enhance "all personnel," the "disgruntled employee" sulks around in quiet despair about what is wrong in the work center until they are crazy with irritation - this is much like the average employee who observes improper practices and keeps quiet.
What is an employment and/or contract grievance? It is the request for and enforcement of laws and relevant resources to be set in motion that were developed for our use by this great nation over the many years it has existed. These capabilities ensure our rights and privileges are respected while working. If we were not entitled to represent our interests in a work environment through affirmative action without being termed "disgruntled" then we would still be involved in slave labor and sweat shops because being unhappy about those circumstances would result in other workers who didn't want to rock the boat believing the individuals who forged the way through filing a contract or employment grievance were disgruntled and therefore dangerous.
In order to continue the quid pro quo - especially when illegal and fostering disadvantageous end results to the population at large - disenfranchising those individuals that are willing to step out from the silent majority in order to file grievances utilizing internal or external procedural resources is the easiest way for the sweat shop and slave labor methodologies to continue to thrive.
If we take, for instance, Anita Hill during the late 80's and early 90's who advocated for women's rights to not suffer sexual harassment in the workplace (in "federal" venues) - the banter that she received from both men and women alike was excessive. Rather than support her advocacy for all women's rights and fair employment practices (whether direct hire or contract related) many observers determined her to be a "disgruntled employee" wanting to rock the proverbial marketplace boat; however, her taking a stand has aided an abundance of young women who don't have to empty male supervisor's ashtrays, take the men's laundry to the dry cleaners, listen to blond jokes in office meetings, or sleep their way to the top.
A well-known Washington DC labor law attorney once said, "The folks who hold their employers to a higher level of accountability usually just know more about the law and understand why it is important to follow the law."
The disgruntled employee says year after year, "this is the way it is done here you just have to settle down and deal with it, some things may be illegal, but they are in charge"; we all know that eventually that individual may pop a cork and explode. The contract or direct hire that files legitimate grievances and remedies them through law and litigation perhaps even enacting a bill to Congress that ensures further rights of the federal, civilian and contract workers of America - is working with the tools provided by our forefathers - is working proactively without discord - is working to the betterment of all.
Like the individual who will step up after witnessing a crime and avail authorities to resolve a case where they can - due diligence in the workforce applauds those who step out from behind the wall of fear and believe the "No Fear" clauses and adjudicative processes that can avail the correction of wrongdoing in the marketplace whether short lived or endured for a lifetime.
Oftentimes when one individual steps forward it opens the floodgates for others who are disgruntled employees in the making through silent majority participation - giving a voice and listening to those voices is half the battle in ensuring viable work force alternatives for our children and their children.
- AAUW Sexual Harassment in the Workforce
- Cornell Law University, Title 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8) and others
- Department of Justice Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Fraud Task Force
- Federal Labor Relations Authority
- National Labor Relations Board
- Office of the Deputy Inspector General -Procurement Fraud Toolkit
- Office of Federal Compliance Programs - Department of Labor
This day in history:
1683: The first German Mennonite settlers arrive in America. They will establish Germantown, outside Philadelphia.
Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian anthropologist (1914)