#How can I get my firm to speak out about racial injustice?

#How can I get my firm to speak out about racial injustice?

June 14, 2020 | 11:25am

My company refuses to make a statement about racial injustice. They say that whatever anyone says or does is never good enough. I feel that’s a cop-out, but if I complain I fear there will be retribution. Can I be reprimanded for organizing an employee protest or petition asking management to make a statement and commit to doing more to combat inequality?

If we have learned anything from the #MeToo movement, it’s that silence and inaction are not an option. The issues of race are at the top of the national conversation, and just because your company remains silent doesn’t mean that you have to. You can try measured ways to encourage dialogue and influence change that aren’t provocative and potentially a risk to your job. Think about whose responsibility it actually is to ask the organization to step up. Start a dialogue with those leaders. If that doesn’t work, then make your case professionally to the top of the company, whether the CEO, CHRO, general counsel or board of directors. If you still don’t make any progress, then you have an even more powerful platform to organize grass roots pressure. You stand on much firmer ground if you keep all of your efforts professional and can defend yourself if any of your efforts do adversely impact your job.

The restaurant where I worked last summer said that they would rehire me for this season, and a few weeks ago, the manager confirmed they were going to bring me back. Now he says they won’t, because I didn’t come in for the Labor Day weekend last year even though I had a good excuse. Is that legal? And can I collect unemployment since they are technically firing me?

If not being offered a job was the same as being fired, then almost everyone has been fired many times. And if not being offered a job qualified for unemployment benefits, then the country would be bankrupt. If the restaurant had fired you for not showing up for work last year, you likely would have qualified for unemployment benefits — now, not so much. There are plenty of restaurants now looking for staff, so go land a new gig.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.


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