Adversarialism and opposing views — rather than addressing potential discrimination — informs each side’s actions and perceptions in a legal case. According to Rights on Trial, plaintiffs see themselves as the little guy in a litigation system stacked against them with adversaries who believe discrimination exists — just not in their cases:
Defendants who insist they abide by the law yet find flaws with every individual case by using stereotypes. They become defensive and can escalate tensions with abusive legal tactics such as using summary judgment motion to tell plaintiffs they have 45-day time limit to take depositions, etc.. Inundated with other cases, plaintiff lawyers often push for an early settlements to get rid of the case, giving no attention to the merits of the case fro either side as they jockey for position.
Judges who often don’t see discrimination evidently in cases without smoking gun evidence and play a role not just in decisions but...
In his Mashable post "A bad job is harder on your mental health than unemployment," blogger Stephen Bevan argues that bad work can threaten employees' productivity, social inclusion, and even health. His ultimate question: are we actually better off working?
"Good work" and mental health
Bevan associates mental health with being engaged in "good work," or having "control, autonomy, challenge, variety, and task discretion." And results of a Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey in Australia say that being out of work is a bad thing: bad for income, self-esteem, dignity, social inclusion, relationships, and health.
As logic follows, getting back to work would then be a good thing. But not so fast. It's not just any job that supports mental health. "Being in poor-quality work which, perhaps, is boring, routine, or represents underemployment or a poor match for the employee's skills is widely regarded as a good way for the unemployed...
Workplace abusers tend to follow predictable patterns of behavior:
While some plaintiffs understand that the legal system is a game they have to play once they sue, plaintiffs have far less control and receive much less support from their attorneys compared to employers.
There’s a huge asymmetry of power. According to Rights on Trial, there are major differences in:
Frequency of playing the game. Defense attorneys are repeat players and can devise systems to minimize legal risk. Plaintiffs are one-shotters who have to rely on others for strategy. Defense attorneys represent organizations with which they either have ongoing, long-standing relationships or with whom they are trying to cultivate one. (Legal defense funds and a specialized plaintiffs bar may help level the playing field somewhat.)
Power in number of team members and financial resources. Most defendant organizations seem to have more attorneys, a legal risk budget, and discounted legal fees for their preferred provider relationships. Representation is a given, and money shapes...
Seth Godin defines sheepwalking as "the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain-dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line." These are the people who don't question their purpose at work, who color inside the lines, and are compliant with managers who lead by fear.
"The fault doesn't lie with the employee, at least not at first," says Godin in his book Tribes.
But what happens when you instead build or work for an organization that treats people with respect and trust? Simply put, "when you hire amazing people and give them freedom, they do amazing stuff," explains Godin.
A simple test for sheepwalking
Godin says that a thermostat is far more valuable than a thermometer. Here's the difference:
A form of institutional and interpersonal racism, people of color are far less likely to obtain legal representation due to, according to Rights on Trial:
Their search for lawyers: inadequate information and networks, a lack of trust in the legal profession, and high cost (including fees for initial assessments). Payment for attorneys falls into three categories:
Contigency fee, paying the bulk only if a client prevails, and contingency fee plus, an upfront fee designed to screen serious clients or an hourly fee added to funds from the award if the case prevails.
Crucial factors to make economic sense: potential damages, which excludes low wage earners given their average annual earnings; potential to win, which often requires smoking gun evidence; minimal work in case of loss.
Hourly fee, guaranteeing payment regardless of outcome.
Crucial factors to make economic sense: clients understanding the unpredictability of recovery; clients with money. It’s a backup plan for those...
Targets report that quite often, their therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist has a minimal at best understanding of workplace abuse — and they often feel blamed for the abuse, further adding to it.
Without understanding what workplace abuse is, therapists have a harder time grasping how workplace abuse affects targets and why it happens in the first place. That lack of understanding translates into the inability to see it in other clients' stories, losing their ability to build awareness of the issue by naming it for their clients.
Without understanding the basics, therapists might not make potential connections between targets' workplace abuse and possible childhood abuse to help targets develop insights and fresh perspectives to help with recovery.
What targets can do
If your therapist isn't knowledgeable of workplace abuse, you can help him or her help you by teaching him or her the term "workplace abuse." Ask her to learn more about it.
Plaintiffs often look to law or organization policy to object to management decisions, especially with new managers feeling threatened by high performers. They observe race and/or gender bias and attempt to resolve it through their employers’ internal channels: meetings with HR or higher-ups or ethics hotlines. Sometimes employers analyze and tackle claims at the source and help managers learn from mistakes to prevent future cases. Most of the time, they either assume managers handle the claim or simply don’t investigate or investigate only to understand if the employee has a legit legal claim and to re-position the claim as a miscommunication and meritless.
Because of this encouragement to report problems, plaintiffs report surprise to hostile reactions from employers when they report, assuming they will be receptive. With no resolution or with termination — and without awareness of the asymmetry of power in the workplace and legal system — employees contact...
Those with legal representation (aka money) are most likely to have successful case outcomes. “Plaintiffs who do not have a lawyer [“one in four plaintiffs”] have their cases dismissed at a 40% rate compared to 11% for plaintiffs with lawyers,” say the authors of Rights on Trial. More privileged social groups obtain better results, ironic in an area of law intended to protect disadvantaged groups. Case dismissals often result from plaintiff misunderstandings (read: no education from a lawyer) and can cost plaintiffs court fees. Plaintiffs can also lose on settlement or all counts of summary judgment, when the defendant argues that there is no material issue of fact to be decided on and aggressively sets a deadline.
Settlement is the most common outcome of cases “with an estimated median of $30,000. Plaintiffs win something 60% of the time,” the authors say. Trials are rare and “return a victory for the plaintiff one time in three,”...
Researchers have finally found that workplace bullies can drive their targets to suicide. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that bullied targets are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than those who were never bullied.
Researchers defined bullying as harassment, badgering, and freezing out that:
It happens so often that there’s now a term for it. “Bullycide” happens when the cause of suicide is attributable to the victim having been bullied.
Researchers also tested to see if qualities of workplace bullying targets warranted uninvited psychological assaults. They found nothing: zero data to support reason to blame the victim. In other words, targets are not simply...
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