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Thread: Blackballing, South Texas

  1. #1
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    Question Blackballing, South Texas

    I hope I'm posting this in the correct place.

    My questions concern the practice of "blackballing".

    My recent job search has been so unproductive that I recently discussed the issue with a job placement director at a local technical school. She informed me that it is possible that I may be being blackballed. I am interested in determining if this is true. I do not believe I have burned any bridges or left a job under negative circumstances but I would like to verify that I am not being blackballed for something of which I am unaware.
    I am not currently employed.

    What is the best method of determining whether or not you are being blackballed?

    If you find that you are being blackballed, what is the best course of action?

    Thanks in advance to any who reply with useful information.

  2. #2
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    Default Blackballing

    What are you referring to when you say, "blackballing"? Does that mean that you believe that previous employers are giving bad references against you and that is preventing you from getting a job? If so, are the references being given factual? Giving false information about an employee can lead to claims of defamation (or slander, if it is in writing).

    Please be more specific and I can provide information to you.

  3. #3
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    My two cents on your situation: I run a Resume service part-time and I have come across hundreds of people in the last few years that have had your same situation: a fruitless job search. Many are discouraged and have me revitalize their Resumes to help them at least get calls for an interview.
    Have you had your Resume updated or reviewed by that placement director? If so, did she give you any suggestions or let you know if your Resume matches the jobs you are looking for?
    The economy has been slow and people that normally found jobs in a few weeks are taking many months now to get a job even close to what they had before.
    Another consideration is age. Most of the people I work with are between 45 and 55 and anyone over 40 will find there is an unspoken discrimination on hiring.
    Make sure your Resume is up to date and professional looking--it is your calling card.
    As far as the "blackballing" you would be the best judge of that since you know your industry and the people in it. Talk to some previous employers or co-workers if you feel comfortable.
    Let me know if you have further questions, and best wishes!
    Sue

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LConnell
    What are you referring to when you say, "blackballing"? Does that mean that you believe that previous employers are giving bad references against you and that is preventing you from getting a job? If so, are the references being given factual? Giving false information about an employee can lead to claims of defamation (or slander, if it is in writing).

    Please be more specific and I can provide information to you.
    As far as I can tell, "blackball" has only one meaning that applies to a job search. Here is a link to the definition of blackball: http://www.onelook.com/?w=blackball&ls=a
    Since I have never encountered "blackballing" before, I don't even know how it's done or who has the power to do such things. The possibility that I am being blackballed was suggested to me by someone else. Until I was asvised that it was a possibility, I hadn't really thought it was possible. I had always assumed that it was just a convenient excuse for someone who was unemployed and did not want to find work. I was quite surprised that someone in the field of finding employment would confirm that such a thing was actually possible in this day and age.
    The answer to all of your questions above is "I don't know". As far as I can tell, I have never done anything that would warrant such treatment. That's why I asked the questions I did. To restate those questions, how do you find out if you are being blackballed and what do you do to stop it if you discover you are?
    I would assume that, if a previous employer were saying negative things about me to prospective employers, they would simply deny it in order to protect themselves if I were to go and ask them so I would think that the direct approach would not be the way to go about it. I've only worked for 2 employers in the last 10 years and I wasn't fired from either job. I left on amicable terms from both of them to the best of my knowlege.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sue
    My two cents on your situation: I run a Resume service part-time and I have come across hundreds of people in the last few years that have had your same situation: a fruitless job search. Many are discouraged and have me revitalize their Resumes to help them at least get calls for an interview.
    Have you had your Resume updated or reviewed by that placement director? If so, did she give you any suggestions or let you know if your Resume matches the jobs you are looking for?
    The economy has been slow and people that normally found jobs in a few weeks are taking many months now to get a job even close to what they had before.
    Another consideration is age. Most of the people I work with are between 45 and 55 and anyone over 40 will find there is an unspoken discrimination on hiring.
    Make sure your Resume is up to date and professional looking--it is your calling card.
    As far as the "blackballing" you would be the best judge of that since you know your industry and the people in it. Talk to some previous employers or co-workers if you feel comfortable.
    Let me know if you have further questions, and best wishes!
    Sue

    Sue, I would assume that you charge a fee to "revitalize" a resume since you are in business to make money but I have been unemployed for so long that my savings is completely gone and I won't even be able to cover my rent for September. As such, I would never be able to afford your service. The best I can do is constantly obtain free sample resume's currently on the Internet and do my best to mimic those formats. I have so many resume's out that I can't even keep track of them any longer. My real goal here is to get the 2 questions I asked answered. I appreciate your input.

  6. #6
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    Hi and yes I charge for my Resume service but was not advertising here, just letting you know "my two cents worth" on why many people do not find work as quickly as they would like and that is that their Resume either needs serious work or their qualifications do not match the job criteria.

    As far as "official blackballing" I am not familiar with that, but if as you said, you have done nothing to warrant such action, I doubt that is the case.

    What field are you in?

    In any case, you really do need to have a great Resume that advertises all your positive skills and accomplishments and contains NO red flags at all; ie: jobs less than 6-12 months, gaps in employment, personal info such as age, etc.
    Go to the Library and review books on Resumes and job hunting. It has changed drastically in the past 5 years due to the slowing economy. Your job search must become a full time "job" for you until you find a company that matches your goals and experience as well as your financial needs.
    I wish you the best.
    Sue
    Last edited by Sue; 08-31-2004 at 01:01 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Blackballing

    There is no method that I know of in determining whether potential employers are being deterred by a comment that someone has made about you other than asking the potential employers themselves as to why the decision was made not to hire you. If you ask for assistance from the HR Department politely and without appearing to be confrontational, they may assist you (though they are not under any obligation to do so). (The only exception is regarding credit reporting issues...obligations to explain why a person was turned down for such a reason comes under the perview of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.)

    Frankly, I believe it is a little unfair to make a comment such as you heard without giving suggestions as to where that may be coming from. If you have left amicably and without burning bridges, I can't understand why anyone would pass on negative information about you.

    I'm sorry that we can't be of more help. Let us know if you have any other questions.

  8. #8
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    I can not sit by and let you go on with terrible advice. I can’t believe that people have not heard of Blackballing (especially if they run a resume service, note to self: do not use that resume service even if you ‘sooo’ had the money). I suppose no one ever heard of the McCarthy hearings in which actors were being “blackballed” from work in Hollywood, duh. Secondly, slander is spoken, libel is written.

    If you feel that you are being blackballed, which simply means that you may be given a bad reference, you have to check your state laws. Some states offer protection to the workforce in the form of labor laws. I suggest you do not ask your former company because they are under no obligation to handle the issue (at least the other responders got that one right). Have a friend call for a reference and have the conversation taped (again check the state laws of electronic communications---states differ in whether it is legal or admissible).

    You must understand that employers are sensitive to what is not being said as well as what is indeed being said. For instance, if the issue of your honesty comes up...”well John Doe SEEMS to be honest...” as apposed to, “John Doe is honest”, it does not take a neurosurgeon to figure out that the speaker may have an issue with John Doe’s honesty. It may not qualify as slander, but it may cause the same reaction in the receiver...next applicant!

    Lastly, I suggest that it is time you use guerrilla tactics in finding a job (hopefully this is a moot point, being that you wrote this in 2004 and it’s presently 2005). It is an employer’s market in that there are more people than jobs. If a job is not in your field or if you didn’t spend a lot of time in a job you don’t have to put it in your resume, you have the right to create the resume. It is a M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G tool. A resume is not a permanent record under threat of death. The purpose of a resume is to give the employer a snapshot of your skills and abilities, just be sure that you do not lie or embellish. For example, if you’re a computer technician and you have to wash dishes at the local diner, you do not have to include that job in your technical resume.

    I wish you luck and as for the advice givers, names were changed or were not included to protect the asinine.

  9. #9
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    Default Bad Advice

    I'm not sure if you were referring to me or to Sue but I do want to make sure that it is understood that no one is telling this person that they cannot pursue this matter in court. However, from a practical standpoint, to do so is costly. There isn't a federal or state agency to whom you can complain that an employer is being unfair or dishonest in their references. The only way that I am aware that an employee can fight these issues is through the civil court system. If you disagree, let me know.
    Lillian Connell

    Forum Moderator
    www.laborlawtalk.com

  10. #10
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    I'm not sure if you were referring to me or to Sue but I do want to make sure that it is understood that no one is telling this person that they cannot pursue this matter in court. However, from a practical standpoint, to do so is costly. There isn't a federal or state agency to whom you can complain that an employer is being unfair or dishonest in their references. The only way that I am aware that an employee can fight these issues is through the civil court system. If you disagree, let me know.
    __________________
    Lillian Connell
    -------

    Hello Lillian;

    How do you do, I hope you’re feeling well, and I am happy to make your acquaintance via this forum. Now that the introductions are over and decorum has been established, my apologies in advance for undoubtedly, offending people-----not. Why say that you are not sure as to whom I was referring to? You can pick apart what I wrote, and if it does not apply to you then ignore it. If it does apply, then you get a medal. But do me a favor, be direct, don’t half step by saying that you are not sure.

    Correct me if I’m wrong (my wife’s pastime, lol), but isn’t the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission qualify as a federal agency, not to mention the various state labor boards? There are also community legal services that are offered to the general public. Lastly, there are private attorneys that will do cases based on contingency. Whether a case has merit or the likelihood of someone taking a case based on economic realities is a different story. Within the “blackball” response, the issue was slander. Slander is not a question of unfair or dishonest. A true slanderous comment can go outside the realm of the labor law environment and the individual making the slanderous comment can have personal liability. Whether it is cost effective to pursue it is up to common sense. As the lawyers like to put it, “the merits of the case”, sometimes means whether a case will yield a hefty award justifying the money spent to pursue in court.

    Lillian, as this forum’s moderator, I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that you have a huge responsibility. You have probably responded to hundreds, if not thousands with sound advice using a "practical standpoint". I do not know if you have a staff supporting you or if you have ghost writers to respond to people, or if you’re simply a bored housewife with a hobby. But what I do know is that knowledge is power, it is not up to you to determine if a person wants to pursue a matter in court, and it is up to that person to make the decision himself. What I also know is that you are in the advice giving business or otherwise put, the information giving business. Give information not opinion. If something is costly, include that within the information. I hope I’m not speaking for myself, but people who are unemployed do not want to hear bad opinions, they want to know their options, based on facts. If you say that something is slanderous, then qualify the elements of slander and please get it right. Slander is spoken not written (gee, was that direct enough or are you still not sure as to whom I was referring to?). Wouldn’t hiring or conferring with a employment/labor lawyer make sense, especially when you’re the moderator of an unemployment forum?—john.

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