The U.S. Epidemic of Workplace Dysfunction Resulting in Unlawful Employer Practices


There is an epidemic of violations of public safety, fraud, and corruption laws that are directly related to labor law violations in government entities and US corporations. Despite this epidemic – Ethics Commissions, AGs & IGs are unresponsive to labor violation complaints in workplaces and government, even when proof is submitted, tax dollars are misused, and there are rampant ethics, safety, and other compliance violations. The EEOC, OSHA, and State Divisions of Human Rights are underfunded and understaffed, thus their responses to these complaints are almost always delayed and insufficient.

Given that all government employees are required to report legal and ethical noncompliance, mandatory imparital investigations must be implemented without exception and accompanied by absolute prevention of unlawful retaliation against complaining employees. There must be a freeze on any termination of any complaining employee while a sound, impartial, unbiased and thorough investigation is completed, and even afterwards, retaliation against complainants must be prevented.

Violations of EEO, OSHA, public safety, retaliaiton protections, whistleblower protections, ADA, union-protections and fraud/corruption prevention laws must be classified as serious crimes that result in prosecution. There is extremely insufficient protection for employees who use apropriate channels to report noncompliance in both government and corporate workplaces.

Currently, legal compliance with US labor laws is essentially optional for corporate and government workplaces. Only employees who can afford lawyers have a chance of recourse. Most lawyers will not take cases on contingency, even if complaining employees can prove employer noncompliance with labor and other laws. When there is rare justice, it comes years later – often after unlawful termination and great damage to health, families, and finances.

Most legitimate employee complaints are dismissed by noncompliant employers who unlawfully retaliate against these employees, terminate their employment and health coverage and pay them a small sum for which they are desperate and on which they are taxed. This money almost always comes with a gag order, the dismissal of the complaint with government authorities so there is never an investigation, and the continued employment of those guilty of serial noncompliance and other violations of law, which remain unremediated.

Many General Counsel attorneys falsely believe their duty is to protect the corporation by any means instead of ensuring legal compliance and remediating noncompliance according to non-retaliation laws. GCs who knowingly cover up unlawful practices in corporations and government entities must be addressed by the criminal justice system and BAR associations given the enormous financial fraud perpetrated upon taxpayers and shareholders when significant funds are used to unlawfully retaliate against employees who exercise their rights to complain about noncompliance. When this occurs in government entities, it is fraudulent misuse of taxpayer money.

These crimes are epidemic and do require deterrence in the form of large fines, improved processes for complaining employees, and guaranteed sound impartial investigations into unlawful practices, even when there are settlements with complaining employees. Gag orders need to be made unlawful, regardless of settlements with employees.

Every one of us knows someone who has experienced a job from helll, a manager from hell, or a company from hell. Nearly every one of us has also experienced this personally.

What makes workplaces hellish?

Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation for making legitimate complaints, Safety violations, retaliation for complaining about safety issues, a failure and/or refusal to conduct sound, unbiased investigations of employee complaints, cronyism, nepotism, inconsistent applicaiton of policies, union-busting, ethics violations, fraud, and many other epidemic behaviors that should not happen in U.S. workplaces, but which do happen in epidemic proportions.

We need more and more employees to SPEAK UP and COMPLAIN! There are ways to do this so that you are as protected as you can be. There are no guarantees; you may be retaliated against. You may lose your job. I know this is frightening.

When managers and companies use intimidation and retaliation against employees to keep them too afraid to complain, this is UNLAWFUL RETALIATION. Educate yourself and your co-workers about how to write memos and create the necessary paper trail that is needed to show that you’ve tried to diplomatically, professionally, and clearly address the issues that exist in your company.

The HR Toolkit: An Indispensable Resource for Being a Credible Activist provides you with sample memos to do just this. The more employees who speak up, the less companies will be able to get away with this kind of terrorism.

Speak Up! It is your right to do so. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Understand them. Read the book. Learn and share with others. Whether you’re in a union or not, you’ll need the support of others to do the right thing for yourself and for all employees everywhere.

Do not be terrorized and remain silent. Exercise your rights.

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About Denise A Romano

Denise A Romano is the author of The HR Toolkit: An Indispensable Resource for Being a Credible Activist, published by McGraw Hill in 2010. She is a workplace expert and has a strong interest in government, business, workplace and personal ethics. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter. View all posts by Denise A Romano

9 responses to “The U.S. Epidemic of Workplace Dysfunction Resulting in Unlawful Employer Practices

  • Denise

    There is an epidemic of violations public safety, fraud, and corruption laws that are directly related to labor law violations in government entities and US corporations. Despite this Ethics Commissions, AGs & IGs are unresponsive to labor violation complaints in workplaces and government, even when proof is submitted, tax dollars are misused, and there are rampant ethics, safety, and other compliance violations. The EEOC, OSHA, and State Divisions of Human Rights are underfunded and understaffed, thus their responses to these complaints are almost always delayed and insufficient.

    Given that all government employees are required to report legal and ethical noncompliance, mandatory imparital investigations must be implemented without exception and accompanied by absolute prevention of unlawful retaliation against complaining employees. There must be a freeze on any termination of any complaining employee while a sound, impartial, unbiased and thorough investigation is completed, and even afterwards, retaliation against complainants must be prevented.

    Violations of EEO, OSHA, public safety, retaliaiton protections, whistleblower protections, ADA, union-protections and fraud/corruption prevention laws must be classified as serious crimes that result in prosecution. There is extremely insufficient protection for employees who use apropriate channels to report noncompliance in both government and corporate workplaces.

    Currently, legal compliance with US labor laws is essentially optional for corporate and government workplaces. Only employees who can afford lawyers have a chance of recourse. Most lawyers will not take cases on contingency, even if complaining employees can prove employer noncompliance with labor and other laws. When there is rare justice, it comes years later – often after unlawful termination and great damage to health, families, and finances.

    Most legitimate employee complaints are dismissed by noncompliant employers who unlawfully retaliate against these employees, terminate their employment and health coverage and pay them a small sum for which they are desperate and on which they are taxed. This money almost always comes with a gag order, the dismissal of the complaint with government authorities so there is never an investigation, and the continued employment of those guity of serial noncompliance and other violations of law, which remain unremediated.

    Many General Counsel attorneys falsely believe their duty is to protect the corporation by any means instead of ensuring legal compliance and remediating noncompliance according to non-retaliation laws. GCs who knowingly cover up unlawful practices in corporations and government entities must be addressed by the criminal justice system and BAR associations given the enormous financial fraud perpetrated upon taxpayers and shareholders when significant funds are used to unlawfully retaliate against employees who exercise their rights to complain about noncompliance. When this occurs in government entities, it is fraudulent misuse of taxpayer money.

    These crimes are epidemic and do require deterrence in the form of large fines, improved processes for complaining employees, and guaranteed sound impartial investigations into unlawful practices, even whenthere are settlements with complaining employees. Gag orders need to be made unlawful, regardless of settlements with employees.

    Please Sign this Petition @change : Demand Legal Compliance in US Workplaces http://chn.ge/bO31L8

  • 5catjenny

    One of my many experiences w/workplace abuse was an employer who for the whole year I was at the company was praised for my performance in sales increases,etc. But when that year was up my job was “eliminated” so company wouldn’t have to give me my 1 week paid vacation. SO petty but this occurred 3 days before Xmas.Small issue yes, but so indicative of much worse happening to others. Employers will pull ANYTHING they can get away with.

  • 5catjenny

    Another practice I see running rampant is companies bringing on workers not as employees but as independent contractors so they don’t have to provide any type of benefits & they escape paying business taxes on that worker.The worker is forced to become a business and pay those taxes whether they want to or not. An IC is by law only required to complete the work on time, not allowed to be told how or when this gets done. But company violates this by telling IC how & when THEY want job done. Then company denies this. It needs stopped.

  • maureen

    HI Denise!

    Glad to see someone promoting workplace rights. I just came across your petition on change.org, and thought I might provide some feedback as I agree with your stance and would like to see some action.

    There are a lot of issues being brought up on change.org. I think the most successful ones are short, specific, and to the point. While your letter makes many good points, it is rather lengthy and doesn’t really address a specific issue or suggest a specific action. When an issue is as big and important as this, I think it really needs to be taken one step at a time. For instance, highlighting a certain problem at a specific company.

    I hope this is helpful. Good luck!

  • BB Huffer

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
    This is EXACTLY what Ive been going thru! The UNIV OF KY was my employer for 8 LONG years. I drove a work truck as part of my assignment. The trucks were in terrible condition — bad or no brakes, balding tires, no horns, no a/c, no heat, doors that wouldnt close, and BROKEN SEATS. In September 2010 I reported my work trucks unsafe condition. The front seat was broken and the seat belt was so tight that it pinned my shoulder back against the gyrating seat. This agitated the 5 BULGING DISCS in my neck to the point that I began losing feeling in my hands and feet. I complained strenuously to my supervisors and managers. They laughed at me. I reported the safety violations on up the chain of command, The employer ignored me, then told me they wouldnt accomodate my medical disability because THEY DIDNT FEEL IT WAS WORK RELATED. This is against the Americans with Disabilities Act, but UK also said I DIDNT HAVE A DISABILITY. ???!!!?!?!?!?!!! I have medical proof, including x rays, MRI results, doctors statements, and FMLA statements, all showing that my conditions IS a chronic disability. Now I have a steel plate in my spine where two discs were taken out. STILL not a disability according to UK. They lied to OSHA and OSHA did nothiong. The EEOC is stalling and probably will side with UK as well. Nobody cares. UK told unemployment that I WAS STILL EMPLOYED and on VOLUNTARY MEDICAL LEAVE OF ABSENCE in order not to award me benefits. I am STILL fighting that case. I WANT THE MEDIA TO COVER THIS STORY but nobody will listen to me. Im SO tired of fighting but I just cant give up. THANK YOU for your inspirational story and keep up the fight!

    BB Huffer

  • BB Huffer

    Please contact me if you have any ideas on how to get the media involved (Lexington Ky)

    • Denise A Romano

      I have some ideas, but I can’t guarantee they’ll work:

      Contact all of your elected officials about this. Do you have a state public integrity commission or Inspector General? Ask them to intervene and see why OSHA and EEOC are not doing their jobs. You can write one thorough complaint with dates, managers’ names, MD names and contact info, etc.

      Contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and ask your MDs to look at their website so they know how to write letters for you asking for job accommodations. Tell JAN what’s going on and ask for advocacy.

      Write to local newspapers and write to Juan Gonzalez of DemocracyNow!

      I hope this helps. Good luck. Keep us posted.

  • Miriam

    Very clever and right on.

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