First off, I want to thank our guest, Dawn Westmoreland who kept everyone paying keen attention as she shared her 28 years worth of human resource experience with us. Specifically where it applies to Reasonable Accommodation, bullying and disabilities.
We learned, with much sadness, that according to recent reports that bullying is going on more and employers against employees are doing it typically. That’s not the sad part. Bullying isn’t illegal. That’s the sad part. They can bully you until you give in and it’s legal.
Let that sink in a moment.
‘Document everything,” said Dawn, who is a self-proclaimed nerd who documents everything, no matter how small. It’s what helped her win her whistleblower case and can help establish the true picture.
“Mental health issues are still a big stigma around many businesses,” Dawn told us. Because it’s unseen it’s hard to document. You may have the proper medical paperwork to back you up, but that doesn’t stop the boss from finding a way to bully you.
It might be cutting your overtime or not giving you the type of work you had before. Or it could be, “be happy you have a job.” I’ve heard that one more than once.
We also found out why it’s important to report any type of harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) as soon as possible.
Once something has been reported, any type of retaliation, even bullying, is considered harassment and is taken very seriously by the administrative law judge who will hear your case in approximately four years.
Dawn told us a story of someone who sent a report to the EEOC and was later fired. That firing was considered retaliation and let’s just say that the person who reported it had a very happy ending to their story.
But it’s not so sunny for many who are trying to get reasonable accommodations; something small and reasonable, required to do the job due to a prolonged illness, disease or disability.
It could be something as small as asking to come in an hour later and work an hour later so you can go to physical therapy or it could be as big as a computer set up for a blind person.
The average amount an employer is out of pocket is $240, which is probably way less than you were originally thinking. I know I was thinking higher.
The bottom line is there’s a lot of good being done, but still, a lot that needs to be fixed when it comes to Equal Opportunity Employment. You can read more at EEOC.gov or see Dawn Westmoreland’s column here on Saturday mornings.
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