The American Workplace – Us Versus Them

Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions reflect the back and forth us versus them mindset that is the American workplace. In my opinion, a major contributor to the erosion of employer employee relations is twofold:

(1) A protectionist business attitude: “What they don’t know won’t hurt us”

(2) An uninformed misinformed workforce: “What I don’t know won’t help me”

Think about it, our system of education by design teaches us to be career employees. Numerous career fields offer complete technical, behavioral, doctrinal, emotional, psychological and spiritual training. However, what is the essential component or missing link? The lack of awareness and initiative in basic employee rights education on the part of employer and employee. Get the facts about  what changed the American workplace the most

Where are the elementary, secondary and college courses representing the most fundamental issues that job seekers will face. I was never taught “Workplace Discrimination 101” or “fundamentals of (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act” when I was in school. Where are the “Proving Racial Harassment 301” textbooks? Let us not forget the required course “Introduction to Pre Employment Background Checks”. College recruits, graduates and job seekers should be made aware of this indispensable training which would allow them to function optimally going into the workplace. Accepting employment with only peripheral training in limited areas such as resumes, job applications and preparing for job interviews usually leaves the employee at a disadvantage. With no emphasis on education and raising awareness of basic employee rights, the “virgin” employee can become tainted, disillusioned and corrupted by a myriad of workplace landmines such as…

incompetent managers who routinely violate employee rights.
not know how to navigate the complaint process.
thinking the company (EEO) Equal Employment Office(r) is their to protect their rights and not the company’s.
unrealistic expectations about what their rights are.
Thus, we have the “uniformed misinformed workforce” that has embraced many myths and flawed concepts concerning the workplace. I believe students from elementary through the collegiate level should be taught to grasp core workplace issues while preparing for a career. Let’s take a look at this scenario. An employer reviewing a resume/application notes course work completed in understanding and proving sexual harassment in the workplace. Do you think the statistical number of sexual harassment complaints would go up or down?

I personally believe that employers would be forced to respect the “letter” of the law concerning employee rights if not the “spirit” of it. I believe companies would be far more diligent in ensuring enforcement and move away from the “What they don’t know won’t hurt us” mindset. Employers would be proactive in ensuring their management structure is competent and trained regarding employee rights in the workplace. In my opinion, American business wants to maintain a workforce that remains largely ignorant of it basic employee rights. Why? Because it gives the illusion of control until the company is successfully sued for an employment violation that could have been corrected or eliminated upfront. Until corporate America is willing to accept the reality of a true partnership with the workforce, we will continue to waste time and resources in needless litigation. After all, how can there be an employer without an employee? Both sides are equally important, equally needed and should be equally respected.