Trump’s Gone; Can We Acknowledge the Rapes?

It has been known for years that undocumented girls and women who are making the trek from Mexico to the United States are being subjected to epidemic sexual violence.

But Donald Trump’s assertion that Mexico is sending rapists to the United States has caused a media firestorm in both countries.

Trump was fired  by NBC this week and both NBC and Univision dumped the Miss Universe Pageant, that nauseating display of 50’s era sexist cheesecake.  Few would argue that the tone of Trump’s statements were racist.

And yet it is ironic that Trump’s blundering assertion seems to have garnered far more attention than the actual plight of  Mexican girls and women who are being raped on their journeys to the United States (even if their rapists do not actually cross the border into America). 

Maybe now Mexico and the United States will do something about the real problem of sexual violence against migrant girls and women?

A Fusion investigation , which was reported last fall by the Huffington Post,  stated that 80 percent of women and girls crossing into the U.S. by way of Mexico are raped during their journey.  Fusion is a television channel that reflects a collaboration of Disney/ABC and Univision.

In 2010, Amnesty International reported that 60 percent of migrant girls and women suffered sexual violence at the hands of criminal gangs, people traffickers, other migrants or corrupt officials. According to Amnesty International, “It is a widely held view – shared by local and international NGOs and health professionals working with migrant women – that as many as six in 10 migrant women and girls are raped.”  The rape victims are afraid to report the crime for fear they will be deported.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that  in FY 2011, the number of Mexican children apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was 13,000, rising to 15,709 in FY 2012 and reaching 18,754 in FY 2013.

SLAPP Down: Trump University

Trump you're firedA federal appeals court this week taught Trump University and its founder,  Donald “You’re Fired” Trump, an important lesson about bullying.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California reinstated a motion to strike a defamation claim filed by Trump University against a former student, Tarla Makaeff,  in a class action lawsuit that accuses Trump University of being an elaborate scam.

Makaeff said the defamation claim violated California’s Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute and was intended to deter her from pursuing her right to free speech. SLAPP refers to lawsuits that masquerade as ordinary lawsuits  but are intended to deter ordinary people from exercising their political or legal rights or to punish them for doing so.

The appeals court also revered a lower court ruling that held Trump University is not a public figure. The appeals court said Trump University, is a “limited public figure” that is subject to a heightened burden of proof in a defamation case.  Trump University must show by clear and convincing evidence that Makaeff’s alleged defamatory statements were made with “actual malice”  –  with knowledge of their falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.

This ruling makes it very unlikely that the university can prevail in the defamation claim.

Trump, a real estate magnate who stars in the TV show, The Apprentice, founded Trump University as a private, for-profit entity, to teach his “insider success secrets.”    Makaeff  attended university seminars that encouraged members of the public to participate in the market for foreclosed properties, which had grown substantially in the wake of the 2007 financial and mortgage crisis.  After paying more than $5,000 to the university, Makaeff, in 2009, began accusing the university in letters and Internet postings of deceptive business practices.

Makaeff said she  wrote her bank and the Better Business Bureau and posted statements on the Internet  “to alert other consumers of my opinions and experience with Trump University,” and to “inform other consumers of my opinion that Trump University did not deliver what it  promised.”   

The appellate panel said Trump University became a “limited purpose public figure” when it conducted an aggressive advertising campaign in which it made controversial claims about its products and services. This campaign included online, social media, local and national newspaper, and radio advertisements for free introductory seminars. Furthermore, Donald Trump denied the university engaged in the practices that were the subject of Makaeff’s alleged discriminatory statements in the forward of  his book, Wealth Building 101.

The appeals court  panel said it had “little difficulty” concluding that a public controversy existed over Trump University’s educational and business practices when Makaeff made her statements about them.  “ By 2007 and 2008, disgruntled Trump University customers were posting complaints on public Internet message boards,”  the panel notes.

“To be clear: Trump University is not a public figure because Donald Trump is famous and controversial … Trump University is a limited public figure because a public debate existed regarding its aggressively advertised educational practices,” the court ruled.  “[H]aving traded heavily on the name and fame of its founder and chairman, Trump University was in no position to complain if the public’s interest in Trump fueled the flames of the legitimate controversy that its business practices engendered.

NBC Should Fire Donald Trump!

Shows Lousy Leadership Skills

Donald Trump,  real estate mogul and boss of  The Celebrity Apprentice,  hit a new low this week when he fired a target of workplace bullying and retained the bully.

Trump retained Richard Hatch after Hatch, in his capacity of Project Leader, actually physically pushed away  his “employee,” David Cassidy, when Cassidy tried to make suggestions.

Hatch, who won the first Survivor reality TV show, is physically considerably larger than Cassidy, who is a performer and former teen idol. Hatch treated Cassidy like a pesky fly, physically pushing him away a couple of times.  At one point, Cassidy confronted Hatch, complaining that Hatch had physically touched Cassidy twice and telling him to stop.

Notably, Hatch did not physically touch any other team member.

In addition to physical bullying, Hatch repeatedly referred to Cassidy in demeaning terms, at one point calling  Cassidy delicate and one of the “little people.”

Meanwhile, in a behavior that is typical for a workplace bully, Hatch at first denied the abuse, which was caught on film, and then minimized the abuse.

Unfortunately, the scenario is all too typical.

In a 2008  poll by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 53 percent of targets of workplace bullying said they reported the abuse to their employer, and their employer substantially did nothing; 71 percent said the employer retaliated against them!

Cassidy and other team members reported the bullying to Donald Trump  but, sadly, Trump’s response was essentially to criticize Cassidy for failing to be more assertive.  Trump said  his gut  (which he said is always right)  told him to fire Cassidy and not Hatch. However, cynics might infer that Trump’s gut told him the villainous Hatch is better for ratings.

This is an appalling example of poor leadership for any boss but especially one who is making noises about running for the Republican nomination for U.S. President.  (I’m referring to Trump)

In addition to Cassidy, Trump  failed Cassidy’s team-mates. Witnesses of bullying often fear that they may be next, and experience guilt that they didn’t intervene on behalf of the bullied.  Several of Cassidy’s teammates watched in silence while Hatch physically dominated Cassidy.

Hatch, by the way, spent three years in prison for failing to pay taxes on his winnings from Survivor and subsequent earnings. (A federal judge ordered Hatch back to prison on 3/11/11 for nine months because he still hasn’t settled up with the IRS.) Fellow Survivor cast member Sue Hawk threatened to file a lawsuit after Hatch, while nude, brushed up against her during a Survivor challenge.

Hatch calls himself a corporate trainer.

God help us!

By the way, for all you employers out there who think the workplace should be a battleground, here’s an overview and definition of the tort of battery.

Battery occurs when the defendant’s acts intentionally cause harmful or offensive contact with the victim’s person. [See Restatement §§ 13, 16, 18.] While battery requires intent, the prevailing tort definition does not require an intent to harm. It is only necessary that the defendant intend to cause either harmful or offensive contact.  [From: J. Diamond, et. al, Understanding Torts (Lexis-Nexis, 2010)].


Chef Ramsay or Donald Trump?

This is a story from the BBC News Magazine about workplace bullying. The story compares Chef Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen and the British host of The Apprentice, Alan Sugar. The format of Trump’s show is similar to that of Sugar’s. PGB

Just what is bullying?

By Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News Magazine

Everybody has been in an office where tempers were lost and swearing occurred on an occasional basis. But what distinguishes the acceptable boisterousness that characterises some workplaces with downright bullying?

Shouting, screaming, swearing, ignoring or behaviour designed to embarrass.

Has your boss done any of the above to you, and if so, did you shrug it off as normal office behaviour, or consider it something far more serious?

In a new book, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been accused of workplace bullying after a number of alleged incidents. He is said to have grabbed staff by the lapels, shoved them aside and shouted at them.

Mr Brown admits he can get angry, and is determined and strong willed, but denies he is a bully.

So where is the line drawn between being assertive in the workplace and being labelled a bully?

Defining where that line is, and when it is crossed, can be difficult. If you’ve failed to meet your project deadline, should your boss take you to one side and sweetly tell you you didn’t make the grade, or does he or she have a right to shout at you and demand answers?

In the various interpretations of workplace bullying, there is a common thread – it is when the behaviour humiliates and offends the victim, is a personal attack, and is an abuse of power.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which represents recruitment experts, defines it as this:

  • “Bullying at work involves repeated negative actions and practices that are directed at one or more workers.
  • “The behaviours are unwelcome to the victim and undertaken in circumstances where the victim has difficulty in defending themselves.
  • “The behaviours may be carried out as a deliberate act or unconsciously. These behaviours cause humiliation, offence and distress to the victim.”

Ramsay rollicking

But even then, it can be hard to know what distinguishes an ebullient manager from a bullying boss.

“Strong managers are given power because they are managers,” says Lynn Witheridge, chief executive of the Andrea Adams Consultancy which was set up to deal with workplace victimisation. “It’s their job to use and to wield it but not to abuse.”

For many people, the embodiment of an irascible boss is TV chef Gordon Ramsay, or Alan Sugar, who wields the firing finger in the BBC’s The Apprentice. Both have formidable characters and don’t hesitate to deliver withering comments.

But by Ms Witheridge’s definition only Ramsay’s approach could be considered a form of workplace bullying.

“He is absolutely [a bully] because it becomes personal… he uses swearing, and shouts at people saying they’re thick.”

Sugar, however, is not, she says.

“He has to pick the very best but it doesn’t get personal. He doesn’t use personal traits and accuse them of being thick… he strongly manages them.”

But others might see the behaviour of the head chef as entirely reasonable, given the pressurised environment of a professional kitchen.

Kitchen tempers

Most people understand that at busy times, it is high tension, says Jenny Stringer, acting managing director of Leiths School of Food and Wine.

“You need to be quite vocal, depending on the kitchen you need to speak loudly. I don’t think that’s what anyone means by bullying,” she says.

There’s a clear difference between yelling orders at people and operating normal quality control, and repeatedly physically confronting a single member of staff, she notes.

It’s not just in kitchens that tempers are frequently raised. Shouting at someone who is late to meet their deadline might not seem out of place in a newspaper office, or in a trading room where a certain level of robustness is expected.

Neil Addison, a barrister who specialises in harassment cases, says context is key.

“What might not be bullying in the barrack room, might be harassment in a school. If you’re training for the SAS there’s no point complaining that a sergeant is shouting at you because that’s what goes with the job.

“But if you’re a teacher in a school or a worker in an office there’s no reason for your boss to shout at you.”

Some of those who have experienced workplace bullying say the stereotype of being barked at by a short-tempered boss is missing the point. It can manifest itself in a more subtle, yet sustained, manner.

Mark, who worked for a private firm that was contracted by the NHS several years ago, became a victim.

“It wasn’t a question of pushing and shoving, but it was nasty stuff.

“There was an attempt to to show you up in meetings. Saying to your face you didn’t know what you were talking about, putting self-doubt in your mind.”

Yet when he tried to raise the issue, he was given the brush off.

Playground ring

“I tried to do the right thing and reported it to HR. They told me it wasn’t bullying. They said ‘it’s just your boss, it’s the way he is’.”

Mark eventually took voluntary redundancy, and now runs his own antiques business.

“I got to the point where I went off for a while with stress. I was unable to do my job.

“This kind of background bullying, it isn’t as overt as someone standing yelling at your face from two inches away. It hits you in the guts. You think ‘maybe I’m making this up’.”

Part of the problem could be the label of “bullying” which comes with a good deal of emotional baggage, says Lynn Witheridge.

“People are so fearful of using this word. The childish connotations of the word makes them feel weak or a trouble-maker.”

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2010/02/22 15:32:36 GMT