Political Roundup: Neo-Nazi Group Supports Donald Trump/Workplace Bullying

by David Samuels

This column appears in the July 7 – 14 edition of the Hartford News…

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! Replays on the Tuesdays that we’re not on live and every Wednesday, same time. Next show: July 19. Co-host: Mary Sanders. Guest: Dan Durso, a retired Teamster who is now the Outreach Coordinator with the volunteer grassroots Bernie Sanders Connecticut Team, will join us for a preview of the Democratic National Convention July 25 – 28 in Philadelphia. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/
Community Party Radio Podcasts
Josh Elliott, Candidate for State Representative
Check out CP’s No Sellout blog Election 2016 Candidate Tracker for a profile provided by Josh Elliott, a Bernie Sanders supporter who is running for a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly. Includes info on making a donation to his campaign. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/election-2016-candidate-tracker-josh-elliott/
Domestic Terror Watch
The Neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party, the group that was involved in a violent confrontation with anti-fascism protesters in Sacramento last week, will attend the Republican National Convention to support Donald Trump. Democracy Now! reported on the story.
“Cleveland and a federal judge have agreed on a new plan for protests during the Republican National Convention in July. The new guidelines will permit more time for demonstrations and a march route closer to downtown Cleveland. This comes after the ACLU sued Cleveland over its planned restrictions on free speech during the convention. Thousands of protesters are expected to travel to Cleveland—including the white nationalist group the Traditionalist Worker Party, which has confirmed it will be heading to the RNC to ‘make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs.’ The group held a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento, California, where five people were stabbed on Sunday.”
There are 892 hate groups currently active in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map
Safe Work Environment Act Report
This week we’ll share a column from the Undercover Lawyer on workplace bullying, courtesy of the ToughNickel  website. https://toughnickel.com/ Coming in 2017: The Community Party’s Safe Work Environment Act. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/coming-in-2015-safe-work-environment-act/

Employee Rights: Can I Sue My Former Employer For Giving Bad References?

Job Applicants Have Rights Too

Are you are working hard at getting a new job, sending out resumes, getting interviews, and being told you only have to pass a reference check, but then not getting the job? Multiple people have recently contacted me about this exact scenario wanting to know if the law provides them with any recourse at all. The answer is: YES! There are two ways that you can file a lawsuit against your former employer for giving out negative references about you. One way is by suing for defamation. A second way if by suing for discriminatory retaliation. Each way requires that you meet certain criteria, and neither way should be taken lightly. This Hub will cover suing a former employer for defamation. A second related Hub will explain suing a former employer for retaliatory discrimination. In brief, can sue for defamation if:
  1. Your former (or current) employer says untruthful things about you;
  2. To a company where you have applied to work;
  3. The company where you applied would have hired you had your ex-employer not said untruthful things about you; and
  4. You lose out on income as a result.
Number for may seem obvious, but if you were hired by a third company right away, for the same or more money, then you would not be “out” any income. You would not have a case because you would have no “damages.”

Hiring Managers Often Avoid Calling the Former Employer’s H.R. Department

What this means is that employers must give references that are completely accurate or they face being sued by former employees. This is the primary reason why so many companies today refuse to give out any information besides:
  1. Date of Hire;
  2. Date of Separation;
  3. Beginning Wage;
  4. Ending Wage; and
  5. Job Title.
Each of these five things is totally objective. A company can prove that it was completely accurate and truthful with your job references if it only releases these five things. Many companies refer all letters and telephone calls about references to their Human Resources Department, and the H.R. Department strictly follows the “name, rank, and serial number” approach to giving references. But many reference checkers purposefully avoid calling the human resources department because of this.

The End of an Employment Relationship Can be as Nasty as the End of a Marriage

What happens, then, is that a hiring manager from Company B will not call the H.R. Department of Company B, but instead will call around to get a hold of your former manager, or a lower level supervisor. Frequently line managers are annoyed by the H.R. Department always telling them what they can and can’t do, and who they can and can’t talk to. They feel put-upon by Human Resources, and they may also feel jilted by the fact that you left, or, they are still angry about your perceived short comings when you were working for them.
As a result, a lower level manager often decides on their own to tell the caller (the hiring manager from Company B) what a pain in the neck you were (not that you really were, but that’s what the manager might wrongly believe). The larger the company, the easier it is to find someone, somewhere, who is willing to talk about you.  In this way, a bully boss or abusive manager can continue to come after you even after you have left the company.
Also, employment relationships are the closest thing we have to family relationships. Often companies proudly say “We’re like family here.” And just like a divorce, the breakup of a working relationship can cause feelings of resentment, betrayal, anger, and a desire for revenge. A former manager will occasionally act on these feelings by “sticking it” to you through giving a very bad reference to a company were you applied, even though you don’t deserve it.

Take Action and Dig for Evidence

If you suspect that a prior bully boss or abusive manager is trying to “stick it to you” by giving you bad references, you should take action.  Go to the company that did not hire you, Company B in our example, and ask for a copy of your application and all the notes that went with it.  Give them this request in writing, and specifically ask for interview notes and reference checks.
This will probably scare Company B, who will think you are about to sue them for discrimination because they hired someone else instead of you.  Keep a copy of your written request for yourself. If Company B does not comply, see an attorney about writing a letter on your behalf, or opening a case for you and subpoenaing your application records.
Another easier, cheaper, and sneakier way to check what is being said about you is to have a friend pose as a potential employer, and have your friend call and ask questions about you. Tell your friend to be chummy and not to take “no” for an answer. You can even find a friend who owns their own business do this so it is more legitimate.
After you establish that your former employer is saying something negative about you, you will have enough evidence to file suit, even pro se (meaning filing it yourself) if you need to. To win in court, however, you will need to prove each of the following elements to win your defamation case against your former employer:

The Four Legal Elements of Defamation

When you’ve completed your investigation compare your evidence (it does not have to be written evidence) to the following four elements that are required to prove that your former employer defamed you:
  1. “Publication…” — this does not mean that your employer must write untruthful things about your past job performance in a book or newsletter. “Publication” in legal terms simply means “communication to a third party.” Your former abusive manager satisfies this element by simply talking about you on the telephone to your potential employer;
  2. “…Of a false statement…” — This is the element that employers try to avoid my only giving out name rank and serial number, which can be objectively proven true. But if some jerk you used to work for tells a potential employer anything negative about you that is subjective, then you can argue that it is false by using your entire employment record at the old company as evidence. You can also use oral testimony from your former co-workers as evidence. In other words, if your old manager describes you as anything other than a good employee then you will be able to argue that you were defamed.
  3. “…that harms your reputation…” — This element is simple to prove. Just show that you did not get the job you applied for at the new company.
  4. “…and damages.” — Your damages are the equal to the salary of the job you did not get, from the time someone else was hired through to the present day. The only way you won’t be able to prove your damages would be if you got some other job soon after finding you you did not get the one in question.

Conclusion: Defamation Can Be a Powerful Weapon Against a Past Bully Boss

As you can see, the four required elements of defamation match up almost perfectly with the process of a past employer giving you an unwarranted bad reference about you to a potential new employer.  This is what makes defamation such a powerful weapon that job applicants can use to keep a past bully boss in check, and ensure that he or she doesn’t try to continue trying to hurt you even after the employment relationship is over.
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948   Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/  Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com  

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