Tag Archives: EEOC

Terminated Illegally? The Process Begins

Over the weekend, I received a call from David who informed me of his termination after working with an academic institution for over 1-1/2 years. Needless to say, we chatted the afternoon. Feeling lost and abused, his story reflects a growing trend and is worth repeating to a mounting base of individuals who have been terminated without due process.

The methodology or our epic story will be presented in a question/answer series (as well as taking advantage of proven techniques) while promising to take the reader beyond the superficial. A piece of non-fiction, names of individuals and educational institutions involved in this “incident” have been changed to protect their identity.

Reader value: If you’ve ever been terminated unjustly or know of someone who has, this step-by-step publication will Educate, Empower, and Encourage you to stand up, proudly. On this note, I strongly recommend you invite others to take part by following this adventure as it unfolds.

Key Players:

* Chity College (CC): Academic institution
* David: Victim of the illegal termination
* Bertha: Leader, voice of Chity College
* Jay: Recent arrival, second in command
* Dr. Road: Original player not to be confused with the Beatles” album, Abbey Road

Initial Conversation:

David: “I was told a few days ago that I was fired and now want to know what options are available? I remember your presentation at a national conference, which is why I am reaching out to you. What are my options?”

Danny: ”

David: “I want the world to know and that is why I am asking for your assistance. Can you help me understand how a huge corporation can do anything they want without recourse?”

Danny: “First of all, I am not an attorney (though worked with attorneys as a legal clerk) and the suggestions made are backed by many years in the career management field. I have worked with thousands of individuals, many disenfranchised, with their career strategies. As a certified career coach, certified professional resume writer, and certified professional interview professional, I am confident you and our viewership will learn a great deal, not only about the process, but also about our key players.”

David: “I know you’ve spoken nationally and regionally multiple times, mostly about protecting the rights of those with a challenged past, but I am hoping your guidance and advice will prove advantageous to my specific situation. By the way, within this termination I will be uncovering a number of issues I believe to be sensitive. I’ll talk about racism at the top level, manipulation of grades and attendance in the name of profit, and even a few sexual favors along the way, just to mention a few less appealing topics.”

Danny: “Wow, sounds like a twisted novel plot. Maybe we can work together on a major project?”

David: “I’ve kept tedious notes and plenty hard copies to back it up. And yes, a tell-all novel will be forthcoming.”

Looks like there’s more to the termination and CC than at first glance. Follow the complete story and let others know to follow as the adventure countdowns launch.

Our next session reviews the day of David’s termination… don’t miss it.

David mentioned my national presentations covering employee rights, specifically those with a blemished background. For those interested in getting a head start, you can purchase “Overcoming Employment Barriers: A Career Guide to Assisting Challenged Job Seekers (Former Felons, Substance Abusers, and Others) at our website mentioned below.

Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how I can help you.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Job Opportunities for Adults with Disabilities

Perfect Petroleum and other local businesses/community employers partner with Bishop Grady Villas to offer job opportunities for adults with disabilities, giving individuals with disabilities a chance to achieve their dreams.

DSC_0032Orlando, Fla. – May, 2013 – Bishop Grady Villas, a residential and employment services provider for individuals with disabilities, is proud to recognize the local businesses that have made an impact in the lives of their residents and clients. Over the past several years, the organization has had the privilege of partnering with dozens of local employers that have offered adults with disabilities invaluable employment opportunities to share their talents and achieve their goals.

At a time when Florida Governor Rick Scott is urging lawmakers to approve $36 million in much-needed funding to serve individuals on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list, as well as $2.5 million in employment services to individuals who will continue to wait for waiver services, Bishop Grady Villas programs are more important than ever.

Robert Halliburton and Lorene Schalow have been a part of the Perfect Petroleum team for several months. They love coming to work and our customers love seeing them, but above all, we love having them as a part of the Perfect Petroleum team,” said Ashish Kapadia, President of Perfect Petroleum, an Orlando-based CITGO Marketer. “My son has some disabilities, and so I know first-hand how much people like Robert and Lori can offer not just by the actual work they do, but with the inspiration and blessings they bring by their mere presence, smiles, and laughter. We consider ourselves blessed to be able to work with them. There are still so many individuals in our community that want the chance to make their own mark, and I hope that more local businesses will open themselves up to this incredible opportunity.”

Bishop Grady Villas’ mission is to support persons with disabilities and use their God-given gifts to achieve greater independence, physical and emotional well-being, and spiritual growth. “We are incredibly grateful to all of the businesses who have chosen to hire one or more of our residents,” said Desiree Robles, Employment Programs Manager at Bishop Grady Villas. “It is truly amazing to see the transformation that these opportunities have on our residents’ confidence, happiness, and overall quality of life. It is also a joy to hear how much our corporate partners feel they receive in return when they are able to work with these individuals first-hand as they discover and share their many talents.”

In 2012, Bishop Grady Villas Employment Services helped 116 men and women become permanently employed in Central Florida with the support of corporate partners
like the Walt Disney World Resort, Perfect Petroleum, School District of Osceola County, Publix, and many more. In addition, Bishop Grady Villas provided full-time residential support to 48 individuals through its residential programs.

Its partnership with Bishop Grady Villas is one of many ways Perfect Petroleum helps people with disabilities in the local community. The company also has a history of supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association, The Smile Train, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and many more.

To learn more about Perfect Petroleum, visit http://www.perfectpetroleum.com/index.php.

To learn more about Bishop Grady Villas, the services it provides, and how to get involved, visit www.bishopgradyvillas.org.

To learn more about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the services it provides, and how to get involved, visit http://apd.myflorida.com.

West Orlando News Online is proud to take an active role within our community. If your organization is helping to improve our community, let us know.

On a personal note, thank you Perfect Petroleum, Walt Disney World Resort, Publix, School District of Osceola County, Bishop Grady Villas, and all those individuals putting action behind intent. A special recognition goes out for Jennifer Monje, Senior Human Services Program Analyst for Area 7 Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Follow Me on Twitter @dannyatecs
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Age Discrimination is Alive and Kicking

Securing a job at any age is difficult. For the older unemployed (anyone over 35) the battle to find employment opportunities can be a humbling and a devastating experience. After all, most at that age are accustomed to a lifestyle where financial quakes damage the individual and the family beyond imagination.

Though discrimination based upon race, age, religion and the sorts is illegal, we all know discrimination is alive and kicking in the hiring process. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s just the way it is. Taking a realistic look at what old folks are facing as they apply and interview, it’s time to understand the reasons from the other side of the desk.

Let’s take a moment and look through employer eyes to evaluate his or her justification to overtly break established rules of conduct by excluding the most experienced.

* Old folks are often labeled as expensive whereas younger adults work for less. True or not, no matter your age, it’s about value and return on investment which drives the hiring process. For those oldies out there, your greatest advantage over the youngsters is hands-on experience. First-hand knowledge means less training costs, less job confusion, less attrition, and less professional guesswork. First-hand knowledge also means more work diversity, more problem/resolution issues have been tackled, and an increase of confidence.

* Old folks are only looking to work for a few years while youngsters are seeking a career. True or not (and I lean to not true), employee age is not a good indictor to career tenure. Statistically, workers change their careers 4 to 6 times during their life… that number is expected to increase as technology is creating remote-friendly offices and global competition. Old or young, it is up to you to convince employers that you are looking for stability and your loyalty will not be questioned.

* Old folks carry baggage and they are not worth retraining. What are your thoughts: Why do some employers think this way? True or not, many believe that an employee who has been working in the field for 20 years or more is not willing to change with the times. After all, employers can hire a newbie with a clean slate and not have to worry about bad habits. Your goal, young or old, is to confirm the ability to learn new things and the desire to cross-train into other departments. By doing so, you are showing hiring managers a progressive character and work ethic. Taking advantage of professional development opportunities adds huge points in your favor… sitting back over past 20 years doing the same job over and over again (without attempting to learn or progress) takes points away.

To summarize, discrimination is a part of life, and I suspect it will be a constant tag along. Recognizing what drives hiring decisions (to the good or to the not-so-good) allows one to establish a counter attack, effectually introducing your arsenal of value which will sway perceptions to your favor.

If you have specific situations or questions needing resolve, forward and our team of career professionals will address.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Hiring on the Square? Beware: EEOC IS Watching

On April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), by a four to one vote, enacted regulations that directly affect company hiring policies and practices. Hiring managers not in the know or playing on a discriminatory field, you best listen up. For individuals with an arrest or conviction, the following information and tools are dedicated to you.

As of recent, companies instituting a “blanket ban” elimination policy that targets potential employees who happen to have an arrest or conviction in their background, those days of instant slicing are numbered.

Fact: New EEOC regulations no longer allow companies to automatically eliminate candidates on the basis of an arrest.

This single act affects an estimated 65 million United States adults (not to mention their families) who are saddled by a criminal record. Before getting overly emotional (as the pendulum swings), companies still make their own decisions when it comes to hiring. When it comes to considering ex-felons, company policy and agents must now consider business necessity.

Fairly easy to follow and defined by the EEOC, employers are obligated to examine three factors in making an employment decision:

1.  The nature and gravity of the offense
2.  The time that has passed since the conviction and/or sentenced completion
3.  The nature of the job held or sought

For individuals with a career barrier, these new rulings are aimed to give you an opportunity to explain a report of criminal activity before being rejected. Knowing identity and information errors occur, an opportunity to explain could resolve hesitation before it gets out of control.

Wondering if there is bite to the EEOC bark? Ask Pepsi Co. Due to discriminatory hiring practices, Pepsi Co. recently settled litigation and agreed to pay 300 African American males a total of $3.13 million.

By way of specifics, Pepsi’s old policy screened out applicants who had been arrested but never convicted, applicants convicted for minor offenses, and applicants convicted decades earlier. The EEOC found that Pepsi’s policy violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits any form of employment discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, and other protected categories.

The EEOC based its finding of a Title VII violation on the fact that African Americans are more likely to be barred by Pepsi’s old policy than other demographic groups. According to the FBI’s annual crime report, African Americans represent 28.3 percent of all arrests in the United States—yet only 12.9 percent of the U.S. population.

By way of summary, highlights of the EEOC’s new criminal record guidance is as follows:

  • Firing existing employees with no performance or safety issues because a new employer taking over a business learns of a record when conducting background checks of the workforce;
  • The three “business necessity” factors (age of the offense, seriousness of the offense, and the relationship to the job) contained in the EEOC’s 1987 convictions policy;
  • On line applications that kick people out when they indicate that they have a criminal record are no longer an acceptable hiring practice;
  • The conclusion that across-the-board exclusions usually violate Title VII; and
  • The prohibition against considering arrests that have not led to convictions

Does this mean companies must hire individuals possessing an arrest or conviction? Title VII does not regulate the acquisition of criminal history information. However, another federal law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (FCRA), does establish several procedures for employers to follow when they obtain criminal history information from third-party consumer reporting agencies.

Let’s review the landscape by detailing a few statistics as to why this ruling is significant:

  • One in 29 adults between the ages of 20 and 34 in the U.S. is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure jumps to 1 in 9
  • Nationwide, 13 percent of black men have lost the right to vote, a rate that is seven times the national average
  • One in every 99 U.S. adults are behind bars
  • Fifty percent of all ex-offenders are unemployed
  • The U.S. prison population is currently 2.3 million individuals
  • 1 in 35 citizens have been arrested, convicted, and/or imprisoned

Making fair employment decisions based upon a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities just lost an elimination loophole.

Heed the EEOC warning: Companies not on the square and relying on a blanket ban to discriminate against qualified ex-felons may find themselves with more than a slap on the hand.

On a professional note, I recently conducted workshops at two national conferences (NACE and APSCU) where we discussed “guiding students with career barriers.” Few career directors in the audience were aware of the EEOC changes, which was surprising. Fortunately many at the conference have been empowered by knowledge and are better equipped to inform and assist companies to modify their hiring procedures.

For those not in attendance, ignorance of EEOC regulations is not a defense.

Individuals with an arrest or criminal background, there is hope as well as many resources you can use to better equip and sell yourself as well as enhance the chances of gaining and succeeding in an interview. One such tool is found through a “letter of explanation.”

A letter of explanation is a single-page account defining the circumstances surrounding a specific incident. This powerful asset (when written properly) desensitizes interviewer objections by outlining personal/professional growth. For more information on this topic and our career-barrier focused booklet designed to assist ex-felons gain employment as well as information regarding our diverse career courseware library dedicated to career success, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon (search Danny at ECS).

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

BAN the BOX: EEOC in Action

During a recent showcase/job fair, I had the pleasure of meeting K-Duck who was released from prison nine years ago. He was convicted for possession of three ounces of marijuana. Needless to say, his one mistake as a teenager has been a haunting presence on every step.

K-Duck asked about the best way to deal with the employment application question: Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.

No doubt, honesty is the best bet, even if it lessens the odds of getting hired. With this, I quickly remembered what former President George W. Bush said: “America is the land of the second chance – and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.”

Could America be the land of second chances and forgiveness?

When it comes to individuals who have been arrested and/or convicted, the rubber does not meet the road as former President Bush passively blew hot air toward the general masses. Ando how we all breathed it in.

Given the unequal ratio between the races, all talk and no walk leads to frustration and eventual revolution. Then again, it appears most of America leans heavily on social inebriation and an “I don’t give a flying ____” attitude when it comes to giving chances to those who have slipped and now need help. Consider the alternative: 50% of those released remain unemployed and a result that half return to prison within three years. Think this has something to do with the lack of support on all ends?

Is this the America, the land of second chance, President Bush was referring to?

Employers legally discriminate by using “The Box” employment application question. According to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, 92 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks on some or all job applicants, up from 51 percent in 1996 and more than two-thirds of states allow hiring and professional-licensing decisions to be made on the basis of an arrest alone.

This is worth a repeat, arrests can be used to deny professional licensing.

K-Duck, and the millions like him, will continue to struggle unless legal and societal change happens. Fortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently (last week) issued an updated guidance on employers’ use of arrest and conviction records when making employment decisions. For those not knowing what “The Box” represents, here’s the scoop: it is a hiring policy used to exclude anyone (and everyone) without contest. In this case, the blanket hiring ban targets those with an arrest/conviction.

Why would the EEOC get involved and tell employers who they can or cannot hire? Boiling it down to a single factor, “The Box” violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by actively banning minorities. Then again, don’t take my word for it, let’s get a few facts on the table:

  • An estimated 65 million United States Adults have criminal records
  • One in 29 adults in the United States was either incarcerated or on probation or parole
  • While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group, the figure is one in nine

    According the latest EEOC statistics, 1 in 17 white men are expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime, compared with 1 in si6x Hispanic men, and 1 in 3 African-American men. Going one step further, banning based upon an arrest effects minorities disproportionately… fair or not, the truth is the truth.

    Bottom line: the EEOC recommends that employers should not disqualify a candidate because of an arrest or conviction. Employers still are within their right to perform background checks but they should consider the “nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job” when making a hiring decision. Kudos to putting pressure… now it’s our turn to level the employment field.

    Think one voice can’t change the world? Think again, the EEOC recently settled with Pepsi over their use of a blanket exclusion policy and is currently investigating more than 100 claims of job discrimination based on criminal background checks.

    Fair or not, those individuals who have slipped and are planning to secure a job, know that getting beyond a blanket ban will be difficult. But it can be done. Think about the company and the many values you bring. Recognize that employers are looking for candidates who can get the job done and those who can be trusted. Being loyal, committed to company goals, and going above job responsibilities will push you toward career advancement.

    First step is to develop material that portrays your skills, knowledge, and abilities as an asset. There are effective ways to present you well, even under challenging circumstances. We will review some of these methods but would like your know about your challenges and how best to overcome the blocks standing in the way.

    Going back to K-Duck’s question about what to do: don’t mislead any potential employer. If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination, document and take your concerns to the proper authorities. Your voice can be heard and can make a huge difference not only for you but for millions in the shadow.

    If you have questions and would like career-related insight or books including, “Overcoming Career Barriers: Mission Possible, visit our website (www.edu-cs.com) or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS).

    For additional assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com.

    Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
    Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs