Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica Mauter

House Approves Broad Protections for Gay Workers - New York Times
“The House on Wednesday approved a bill granting broad protections against discrimination in the workplace for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, a measure that supporters praised as the most important civil rights legislation since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 but that opponents said would result in unnecessary lawsuits.” Notably lacking is any protections for transgendered workers.

Does political correctness foster hypocrisy? - Leadership Turn
“What if [Mel] Gibson, [Isaiah] Washington and [Don] Imus had stayed politically correct—mouths shut and attitudes private—would that have been better?” I’m personally guilty of expressing dismay that people don’t know enough to not say certain things out loud, even if they really think that way.

Have you planned for a personnel disaster? - Ask a Manager
“In my office, we call it the ‘hit by a bus’ plan. The idea is to document enough key information that if someone gets hit by a bus tomorrow, their department would be able to continue functioning. (We’re a sensitive bunch.) This means that information related to the job is all written down in a formal manual, not just recorded in someone’s head.”

Late for Work: When Does It Really Matter? - Workers Comp Insider
Jon Coppelman sums up a case in which a disabled worker who was by all accounts an excellent employee was fired when a new company president instituted a zero-tolerance policy on tardiness. The worker was routinely delayed in punching in on time, usually only by a few minutes or less, due to having to maneuver his wheelchair through the workplace.

My Union: A facebook application for union members
My Union is a facebook application, developed by the Trades Union Congress… It lets you add a little badge to your facebook profile to show everyone which trade union you’re a member of. You can also see which unions your friends are members of. (via Work-related Blogs and News)

Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership -
“Women’s leadership style—characterized by innovating, building trust and empowering followers—is ideally suited to today’s business challenges. Tackle the obstacles to women’s progress, and you’ll increase your firm’s competitive prowess.”

Baloney Meter: Antidiscrimination Bond Will NOT Prevent You From Being Sued -
“Employers would offer the ‘bond’ to prospective employees, who would pay an annual premium and earn interest the company would match on their investments. If the employees never sue the employer, they get the principal, interest and employer contributions back about six months after leaving the company to coincide with the period within which they could file suit. If they do sue, they forgo their investment. The bond is priced such that theoretically, job applicants with litigation in the back of their minds would opt not to purchase it, and the employer wouldn’t hire them.”

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email

Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica Mauter

I Just Want To Work With Someone Like Me! - The Black Factor
“[I]f you are a White interviewer or someone who has input into hiring decisions and you can’t imagine many circumstances in which a minority applicant would ‘fit’ in at your company or within your corporate ‘culture,’ then you are probably a racist and—based on that—you should not be rewarded with the power to impact anyone’s livelihood.”

Watch for Interview Warning Signs - BusinessWeek
“Hindsight is better than 20/20—it’s LASIK.” Take some time after an interview, preferably with a friend, to go back over all the little statements that sounded weird at the time.

Accommodating the Female Body by Jessica Roberts - Social Science Research Network
Abstract: “This essay presents a novel approach to understanding sex discrimination in the workplace by integrating three distinct areas of scholarship: disability studies, labor law, and architectural design. Borrowing from disabilities studies, I argue that the built environment serves as a situs of sex discrimination. In the first section, I explain how the concept of disability has progressed from a problem located within the body of an individual with a disability to the failings of the built environment in which that person functions. Using this paradigm, in the next section, I reframe workplaces constructed for male workers as instruments of sex discrimination. I then explain how built environments intended for the male body constitute disparate impact under Title VII. In the final section, I present the architectural school of universal design, which has been a source of crucial innovation in the disability labor rights framework, as a means for both de-abling and de-sexing the workplace.” (via Workplace Prof Blog)

Five ways to feel less guilty quitting, and why Gen Y feels guilt giving notice - Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk
“So Generation Y leaves a job when there is not great personal growth. But in each job they have, they are great at asking people to help them, so they generally feel guilt when they leave one of those people for a new job offer – because Gen Y feels loyal to people who help them…. If you are a young person worrying about quitting, though, here’s a reality check. The company is going to be fine when you leave.”

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job - Patrick Lencioni
Anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement (”the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contribution or success”). (via Strategic HR Lawyer)

Who Benefits? - Workplace Prof Blog
According to a study by Duke University law professor Barak Richman, “low-income and minority individuals did not use [mental health and pharmaceutical] insurance benefits as often as their white and higher-income co-workers. As a result, insurance companies disbursed more healthcare dollars to whites and higher-income individuals, leading to a likely wealth transfer from nonwhites to whites and from low-income to high-income individuals, Richman said.”

6 Years After Sept. 11, Muslims See More Inclusive Workplaces - DiversityInc
“As we get further from Sept. 11, 2001, it appears that American Muslims are safer and more comfortable in the office. While reported discrimination cases against Muslims overall continue to increase, incidents in the workplace are decreasing.”

Multicultural is new workplace model -
“As globalization becomes a reality, more and more companies will employ people of every race, nationality, religious background, and age group. These people will work side by side in the same office building, others a hemisphere away. That’s why if your company is still leading the ‘old’ — read ‘white, male, authoritarian’ — way, you’re making a mistake. It would be great if you could magically fill your leadership ranks with men and women from different cultures, backgrounds and traditions. But if that’s unrealistic, Juana Bordas [author of the upcoming book Salsa, Soul, Spirit] says you can gain a lot by simply borrowing their techniques.”

Family-friendly, or freeloader-friendly? - Fortune
A team leader struggles with how to be flexible, accommodating, and fair to the team when personal time is needed for family issues.

Hedge Fund Power! - Washington Post
“If you’re lobbying to keep a tax break, rich white guys making astronomical sums by investing other people’s money aren’t the most sympathetic clients — especially when they’re paying taxes at a lower rate than firefighters and teachers. So the private-equity and hedge fund industry has come up with a cynical new approach, arguing that raising their taxes would hurt women- and minority-owned firms and dampen investment in needy urban areas.”

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email

Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica

Annapolis firefighter loses reverse discrimination suit -
A white firefighter consistently ranked near the top of the list for a promotion to lieutenant, but two minority candidates were picked over him. The judge ruled that the fire chief “exercised permissible discretion.” (via stereohyped)

How to Get a Job on Craigslist - Guy Kawasaki
Mostly normal job hunting advice, but there is some added context around how Craigslist works. If you want dibs on that $20 coffee table, you’ve got to respond first and respond best (i.e., show up first, preferably with cash). Same goes for a job. Respond quickly, and respond well (but don’t offer cash).

Suspended NFL Players Sue Under ADA - Workplace Prof Blog
The two players claim their suspensions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. “This is an interesting dispute as the ADA has very specific language when it comes to treating alcoholism as a disability. Those currently abusing alcohol are not covered by the ADA, while those who have a record of alcoholism and have received treatment are considered disabled for purposes of the ADA. So whether Thurman and Cox are successful will largely depend on whether they are still currently abusing alcohol or whether they are in rehabilitation mode. There is also a subsidiary issue about how long you must be off alcohol before being consider to no longer be a current abuser. Some cases requires two months or more and if these NFL Players were recently suspended for failing a test, they might be out of luck.”

But You Look So Good! and 7 Other Things NOT to Say to a Person With a Non-Visible Disability -
“Ninety-six percent of illnesses are invisible to the average person… [L]ooking good and feeling good are two very different things—and the impact of a disability or illness is as much psychological as it is physical. From the glares people with non-visible disabilities get after parking in a handicapped spot to the ‘You’re so lucky you get to stay in bed all day’ comments, the ignorance of the limitations of life with a chronic illness or disability can hurt as much as the actual pain.”

Bush Nominee for EEOC Bitterly Withdraws -
“Eight former DoJ officials wrote a letter opposing [David] Palmer’s confirmation, accusing him of poor leadership and ineffective management during his tenure that undermined the mission of the department…. Most alarming are the alleged discrimination complaints against Palmer himself. The letter claims that Palmer treated co-workers with ‘disdain and contempt,’ and was ‘at least once’ the subject of a discrimination complaint, which arose after he allegedly tried to get a woman with whom he had been romantically involved fired from federal service.”

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email

Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica

Justices Limit Discrimination Suits Over Pay - New York Times
This was the big story last week. “The court held today that employees may not bring suit under the principal federal anti-discrimination law unless they have filed a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days after their pay was set. The timeline applies, according to the decision, even if the effects of the initial discriminatory act were not immediately apparent to the worker and even if they continue to the present day.” “Under its longstanding interpretation of the statute, the [EEOC] actively supported the plaintiff, Lilly M. Ledbetter, in the lower courts. But after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last June, the Bush administration disavowed the agency’s position and filed a brief on the side of the employer.” All emphasis mine. I agree that the EEOC’s claim that discrimination occurs each time a person receives their biased paycheck is dubious, but the 180-day time limit is ridiculous.

Pay Discrimination Begins With Bias, Is Abetted by Pay Secrecy - Work in Progress
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen looks more at the pay secrecy aspect of the case. Namely, that bias in compensation stems from discrimination and you often can’t tell if you’re being discriminated against if you’re unaware that the pay gap even exists. Good discussion in the comments. Justice Ginsberg’s dissenting opinion is based on this issue.

Make sure company’s hires and fliers reflect its desire for diversity - The Boston Globe
As someone who has at times searched for a job, I wholeheartedly agree that I look for that projection of a diversity-valuing image and it does influence my perception of a company. But it’s a fine line, because as one of a few minorities in my current company, I’m also sensitive to being hand-picked to be in the poster. Also in that article is a Q&A about how to handle culturally (possibly unintentionally) insensitive language which reminds me of the white manager at work who always throws the fake gang sign to me and the two other black people at work. (Thx, Tereza!)

Why Minorities Hold Few Top Spots in Corporate America - Graduate Schools and Programs Guide
“In fact, social psychologists’ research shows that Hispanics form the largest nonwhite population group and are the fastest growing, while Asian Americans have best education and job credentials, the two groups are least represented in top jobs, [researcher Clayton] Rose said. He cited organizational theory by social psychologists, which shows that ‘race gets in the way’ of work group performance because of such issues as cohesion, integration, conflict, turnover, and attachment. ‘It’s particularly problematic for whites, who really try to opt out of these racially mixed groups,’ Rose said.” (Thx, Tereza!)

Black Faculty in Higher Education: Still Only a Drop in the Bucket - The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
“Overall, it appears that results largely depend on whether the faculties that control hiring at particular universities have a strong commitment to developing a racially diverse teaching corps. Much depends, too, on who has the power to hire faculty. At most prestigious universities the authority to engage faculty tends to be lodged in the departments concerned. University presidents and deans have little or no say in the hiring process. At best they can cajole members of the various departments involved or provide monetary incentives to hire black scholars…. Faculty departments traditionally explain their poor performance on the grounds that there are no qualified African Americans in the Ph.D. pipeline. But the fact that many of our great universities have been highly successful in recruiting African-American faculty tends to show that the ‘no blacks in the Ph.D. pipeline’ thesis is at worst a red herring and at best a weak explanation for poor results.” (via Workplace Blog)

JB Fuqua and the Trappings of Success - Do You Need Them? - Businesspundit
“I wonder if it would make a difference if I showed up in a shiny BMW. Knowing my age, what I make, and my financial situation, I tend to be a skeptic when I see people in flashy clothes and cars, assuming it’s all debt that will come back to bite them. Or is it an investment? Is it an investment in social perception? This is the issue I struggle with sometimes. Does the image of success actually drive success? Does it influence others enough to make it worthwhile?” And I’ll add the question of whether or not minorities feel added pressure to look good to shore up the perception that their work doesn’t already speak for itself.

Race as disability - The Gimp Parade
A white man and his Dominican wife conceived via in-vitro fertilization, and the baby came out darker than either of them. “And because the wrongful life suit (rejected by the judge) on Jessica’s behalf claims she will suffer physical and emotional stress from having darker skin than her family, race is made here to be a kind of disability. Disability, after all, is not only about actual impairments, but also perceived impairments — the ADA recognizes this fact of the social stigma of disability.”

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email