Employment At Will: The Federal Government Edition

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Growing up, I always heard that federal employees have it made. “If you can get a job in the federal government, you will have that job for life,” my grandmother used to always say.

As a child who always loved law and government, I never understood why. In my opinion, they seemed to be the workforce that had the most problems. Trying to serve their bosses and the American people at the same time – who would want that kind of stress? I mean, who can serve two masters? I know I can’t!
When I graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Political Science, the conversation of government and federal employees came back up. But this time, I received two reasons that seemed interesting to say the least:

It was hard to fire an employee

Government employees received better benefits and employee perks (vacation time, discounts and pensions)

So all this time, I heard “get a job with the government” because you would not get fired, but receive better benefits. For something like this, I figured that they were only overcompensating for the stress and frustration that came along with the job. No thank you!

Instead, I worked for Independence Blue Cross until 2007, and then I found my niche in being a paralegal. I went back to school to secure my degree in Paralegal Studies and was hired by Bell & Bell Attorney at Law. And lo and behold, I worked in employment law and was finally able to comprehend the whole idea of employment.
Day-to-day, I handled wrongful termination, hostile work environment, discrimination and sexual harassment. Among them all, wrongful termination seemed to be the highest and it was more from the government (city and state), than private or public jobs. Red flag! “But I thought government employees could not get fired?” was my reaction.

Then, as I was reading contracts and union agreements, this term, employment-at-will, kept coming up. Employment-at-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.

Then I read that, “In Pennsylvania, all employees are considered to be ‘at-will’ employees unless they have a contract specifying a certain length of time for employment. This means that an employer in Pennsylvania can dismiss an “at-will” employee for any reason, at any time, without prior notice, as long as they do not violate public policy or state and federal statutes.

After understanding this doctrine, I reviewed each case now looking at the contracts, exclusions and statutes. I mean, since an employer had the right to fire, my job was to now ensure that there were no illegal actions. But then I asked my attorney why it was hard to fire federal employees, and he said with a laugh, the layers of bureaucracy, complicated employment laws, well-funded and politically powerful government unions, nobody wants the public scrutiny.

But in 2009, I took a job with the federal government. Yup, went against my own words. I guess that’s why you never say never, huh? Now I have to serve two masters, but in this new role, I decided to serve the veteran even if I received an “error” from my boss for doing so. As I gain years and experience, I realized that being a federal employee wasn’t like what I heard. I mean, managers were demoted, and employees were fired if they did something wrong or did not perform. But hey, that’s just the normal standard when it comes to employee vs management. So no big deal! The perks are what you make of them and job security is leaving by the day.
Coming from the private sector to paralegal to government, especially now in 2018, in my opinion, there is no big difference between any of them. You still have to clock in, do work, perform according to your employer and clock out, all while following all ethical guidelines. Getting fired, laid off, or jobs closing is a thing of today, no matter the industry.

So here are four ways to be prepared and ahead of the game in this new employment-at-will world.

  1. Always keep your resume updated and on employment sites. LinkedIn is the most popular.
  2. Have a side job or other sources of income that generate money to save or keep you afloat. Remember, one source of income is not enough in our new world.
  3. Save at least 10 percent of your earnings and/or have six months to a year of your monthly expenses in your “emergency fund.”
  4. Be productive at work and follow all ethical and company guidelines.

Bonus: Learn your company’s employment doctrine and laws. This is the only way that you will know your rights as an employee and your employer’s rights over you.
My wish for all of us for 2019, is that “We get prepared now so that we don’t have to prepare later.” Proactive thinking leads to forever employment and happy retirements.

From the Bottom Up: 7 Ways to Implement Your Employee’s Voice

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“Who created these standards?”

“Were there any employees in the room during the policy change meeting?”

“We gave management all of these recommendations – why didn’t they consider at least one of them?”

If you are an employee, you have either asked yourself these questions or left meetings hearing fellow co-workers discussing them. Why didn’t leaders actively listen and apply the concerns and suggestions we offered?

In my 20+ years as an employee, I’ve had the opportunity to work in both the private sector and a federal agency, and this seems to be a common trend – management implementing policies, standards and procedures without taking into account the current issues, challenges or setbacks that are affecting the company’s productivity. Instead of addressing the current system problems, regulation changes or employee turnover, management tends to pile on more stress and pray that the new way will help catapult their company into the number one spot. One would think that this way of thinking would come automatically to a person in leadership, but after reading and attending many leadership conferences, I have come to believe and understand that every leader is not necessarily a leader.
When looking at leaders and the differences among them, in order for a company to excel, they must have leaders who are unafraid to listen to those who have the responsibility of keeping them great. Real leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. They don’t send emails, but instead delegate, ask for suggestions and implement to involve everyone.

When you listen from the bottom-up, you give yourself the opportunity to become the people’s champion. Any and every employee loves when their ideas are being executed or even considered. When their voice matters, so does your business.

But when you listen from the top down, you are left to face disgruntled employees who don’t mind being unproductive or doing just enough to maintain their job, but no extra. Instead of working toward your vision, they are now focused on their exit strategy. No one wants to be where they are undervalued, ignored or not appreciated. In addition, no one wants to feel like their company or agency is purposefully trying to fail them with unrealistic expectations.
If you are a leader or service in a position of management, listening and implementing policies will not only increase employee productivity and morale, it will guarantee you record returns and increased engagement. Here are seven ways you can implement a better relationship with your employees, to help them speak candidly on ways for company’s growth while giving them the opportunity to learn the inner workings themselves:

  • Don’t just ask for their opinion; invite them to the meetings.
  • Take a day to become an employee to understand the challenges they are faced with.
  • Maintain compassion and empathy when an employee is faced with adversity.
  • Trust your team enough to want better for them. The company can’t survive without them.
  • Offer them opportunities to explore and serve on details to learn the inner workings of the company.
  • Keep your word! Your word is the only thing that keeps respect.
  • Make every employee #1 on your list. They do work for you, right?

In a society where companies are folding, employees have greater options and entrepreneurship is highly celebrated, companies need to be more employee-driven rather than number- and delegation-driven. You can’t just delegate work, give performance appraisals and expect for individuals to stay until they retire. This is not the 1970s or even the 1990s when loyalty mattered. As technology grows and opportunities become plentiful, it’s time to get back in the business of listening before you look up and realize that the only people left to run the company are leadership!

9 Steps To Get Out Of Your Way and Into Your Desires

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Oftentimes in life, we sit at our desk or in our offices staring out into space and thinking to ourselves, “There is more for me in this world then what’s within these four walls.” Now, that doesn’t always mean it’s time to quit, but it does mean that it may be time for more responsibilities, a promotion, a relocation or even a possible detail opportunity.

Far too often, we daydream of what life would be like if we had [insert the blank here], but remain comfortable within what we know and the team we have.
Knowing when to elevate and level up in your career will require you to “get out of your own way” and explore, just like we do to move our agency’s mission forward. We are so programmed to focus and worry about others, including our job, family, spouse, finances and life stresses instead of applying self-desire to ourselves. Then we wonder why we burn out or are unhappy by year five.

As a federal employee and entrepreneur, I run into a lot of people who are “stuck” in their comfort zone. They know what they want and are eager for change, but they won’t move to create a new narrative. So how can you get out of your own way? In this article, I will offer you nine solutions. Far too often, we walk around blaming our delay, disadvantage and detours on everyone else when, in fact, we simply need to look in the mirror. If you want better, need more and deserve greatness, then you need to:

  1. Write the vision and make a plan
  2. Enjoy the milestones and breakthroughs
  3. Take a day to update your resume
  4. Travel to a different city
  5. Enjoy a new adventure for the day
  6. Embrace the failures and lessons
  7. Hire a personal/career coach to teach you what you don’t know
  8. Believe that what you want is indeed yours to have
  9. Execute, execute, execute

As you see, every step requires action and movement on your part, so if you are afraid to do the work for yourself, then in your way you will stay. But if you are ready to do the work, then buckle up and enjoy the process.

‘Empire’s’ Taraji P. Henson: “Art Can Change Hearts!”

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Interviewed by: Ngoako Onkgopotse Mannya
Interview Questions & Article Written by: Charron Monaye

When you hear the name Taraji P. Henson, you instantly think of “Cookie Lyons”, the no-nonsense, fearless and fierce mother and wife who is willing to sacrifice everything, including her freedom, for her family and their Empire. However, if you are a fan, such as myself, you will know that Taraji’s road to stardom did not blow up on Empire. For many of us, she will forever be Shug, Pam, April, Katherine G. Johnson, or Lauren, and who can forget Yvette from the film, Baby Boy or her cameo in the Common’s music video, Testify.

With a career as an Actress and Producer, Taraji has been living her best life that was once just a dream. When she graduated from Howard University and moved to Hollywood with only $700.00 and her son, she had no idea what would await her. After two years of auditioning while also working an office job to make ends meet, Henson landed her first professional acting gig, a recurring role on the television show Smart Guy. Then, in 2001, Taraji’s life changed and her legacy was created!
On December 10, 2018, the Senior Editors of MadisonJaye.com, Charron Monaye and Ngoako Onkgopotse Mannya had the privilege to “be in the room” to get the 411 from this amazing woman, while she was on tour at The Michelangelo Hotel in South Africa. The experience and presence of Ms. Henson was not only inviting, but it was as if you were having a conversation with your bestie from around the way. No matter how many questions we asked or how many cameras were around, Taraji embraced the moment and with great humility changed our lives, one answer at a time. And she said, “Stay tuned for Empire because she doesn’t know who is in the coffin, either”.

You just recently launched a foundation that tackles mental health issues. Can you speak about the kind of work you do and the impact that it has had in society?
The Boris Lawerence Henson was born out of necessity. It’s named in honor of my father, Boris Lawrence Henson, who passed away in 2006. He struggled with mental illness. He was a Vietnam veteran, and you know how taxing that can be coming back to a country that you fought for that won’t fight for you. So he was very open about it. He lived in his truth and that is what this is all about. He taught me to walk and live in my truth because when you know who you are, no one can use you against you.
My son and I had suffered a couple of traumatic experiences in our lives and when it came time to get help there was no help that looked like us. Especially for my son who was becoming a young black man whose father was murdered and then his grandfather passing away 2 years after that and is now seeing that the world is going to be very different for him. It was hard!

So when I found help, my son wasn’t comfortable because the individual on the opposite side of the sofa didn’t look like him. And it’s not even about race, but you just have to be culturally competent. If you don’t know my struggle and I come in full of rage… can you help me? Sometime we get misdiagnosed and we get a pill for our rage. I don’t need a pill, I need you to hear me and give me active exercises to do to get me out of my head when I go into that space. But you have to be culturally competent to do that.

After speaking to my best friend and us doing research, sadly enough, we found that with all of the degrees that are given away in the mental health profession, only a small percentage have been earned by African Americans. There’s a problem! So then I started thinking, “Why is that?” But you know why, because it’s taboo in our community. We are taught to pray it away. We are told that you are weak. We’re demonized. Or a lot of times, we are misdiagnosed. So we have trust issues across the board when it comes to it.

And it’s sad! We can tell you about our thyroid or a cyst, but we can’t talk about our mental which is still a part of our health. But now, when I talk to my white friends and they talk about their “standing appointment” with their therapist every Tuesday, I was like, “Oh I want my standing appointment.” (laughs) But I have a therapist and I go every Saturday at 11:30am because if you are going to talk about it, you gotta be about it.

So like I said, my foundation was born out of necessity but now that it has launched I have people call me up, like Tyrese saying, “You are making it cool to seek help”. That’s all I ever wanted to do. At least let’s talk about it.

What inspired you to do What Women Want?
Actually, that’s another film that came to me. Brian Robins, not sure if he still heads up Paramount, but that’s who came to me, at the time, and he remembered me when I auditioned for him when he was a producer for Norbit. Even though, I did not get the role, he did not forget me.
(Actor’s Note) That is why you don’t burn any bridges. Be nice, but don’t trust! That is why you never not go to an audition. You always go and present yourself in the best way because you never know when the opportunity will come back around. You may not get the job then, you’re your opportunity will come back around and that is how this opportunity came.

Brian got on a plane and flew to Chicago to pitch the idea to me. And when he told me about What Women Want, and that movie is like one of my all-time classic favorite films, but to now flip the gender, I just think it’s smart. It’s a very now film! We have a lot of messages, but it’s not a message-driven film.

We’ve all heard how hard it is in Hollywood for minorities, especially women. What is the black women’s new experience in Hollywood, now?
It’s a great relief because people are working. All of my girlfriends who are black are working. And I think it has a lot to do with the work that Viola, myself, and many others put in, we wouldn’t stop. We wouldn’t let Hollywood tell us we couldn’t and no..no…no. Also, the explosion of cable and streaming networks such as Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube, they are presenting other avenues for work. So people are starting to take their power and moving forward with their scripts and goals without networks, it’s almost like what the music industry is doing.

Can you speak to the struggling actress, who has her headshot, resume, and reel but is not booking either how fast or with the role she desires. What advice can you offer her?
Do not compare yourself to other people! Put your blinders on and stay in your lane and really get to your passion. I know for me, once I’m passionate about something I don’t care what anybody is saying. You’re not going to stop me because now I am on a mission. And, I know people can be so cruel to each other, and a lot of times when you get into the head space of “I can’t do it”, that’s because you are listening to other people’s projecting their fears onto you. Don’t let them project their fear onto you. That belongs to them. That has nothing to do with you.

Put your blindfolds on and don’t listen to the hate. Or when you hear it, let it fuel you because when I became pregnant in college, everybody was like, “that’s it, she not gonna be starring in anymore plays” and I was like. “oh yea, watch this”. I was starring in plays every trimester, I didn’t stop working. It was like, “my purpose became even more intense” because now I am being held accountable because I have this kid now looking up to me. I walked across that stage and collected my degree with my baby on my hip!

We have now the opportunity to see you in animation. The character and role you’ve chosen is not stereotypical to what Disney has done before, which is what a lot of people can relate too. How did you get connected?
They actually called me. I mean, if Disney calls…. you don’t hang up. It has always been a dream of mine to do animation because I am a character actress and I can do a lot of things with my voice and I just thought I would do really good. But I couldn’t kick that door open to save my life. Then finally, I started getting little bits and then roles, and I am not going to stop until I am the star of my own animated film. But I will share with you that I landed the role in the next ____________________ film, so stay tuned. *If you want to know the film, stay close to our page for the big announcement!

Congratulations on your engagement!! I’m so happy for you. How has balancing love, motherhood, and work life been for you? Do you still have time for Taraji, at the end of the day?
Yes, I am gonna always find time for me!

And time for me doesn’t mean a vacation or anything like that. Sometimes it’s just me sitting on the sofa with my dog and my man watching Netflix. I’m always gonna find that time and he, my fiancé, makes sure that I have that time. And as far as balancing, it’s easy to balance because my man is from Chicago and that’s where we film the show, so! I go home to him. I have to have that kind of balance.

My whole life can’t be centered on Hollywood because then I will become something else. You know, and when I started in this industry and started becoming really successful I always knew I wanted to stay grounded. I also knew, that if I became this big superstar you would come see my movie, and say, “Taraji, the superstar” instead of seeing the character that I am playing. So if I remove myself from society, put myself in this bubble and I have all these people around me, ultimately I would lose myself. And I can’t play that regular women who works 9 to 5, you won’t feel it from me because now I am so above it all that you think I am there and you miss the message in the movie because all you see and say is, “Look at her. Taraji, the star”.

Now we all know you as the fierce actress, but are there any plans on working behind the screens, writing, directing, and producing?
I have been producing! I produced No Good Deeds, I also produced this movie for lifetime and I produced Proud Mary. I think I am a very good producer. It’s just the hardest challenge for producing is getting the studio to listen to you and your choices for the actors. You have to fight! They get stuck on names and I am like, “that’s a great name but they can’t deliver this performance”. And it’s chemistry too, you just have to know. Like, I knew Terrance would be great for Empire. If I did not act I probably would have been a casting director, who knows or a make-up artist.

A lot of people know what they do and how they do it, but very few know why they do it! Can you touch on that?
I wish more people knew! But when I got very serious about acting and did Baby Boy, I was told, “You gonna be a big star! You gonna be a hit!” I was like, “I don’t know! I honestly didn’t think it was gonna happen.” Then I was told, “You gotta be clear about what you are doing and why you’re here.” So I went outside with a bottle of wine and I had a talk with God and I was like, “you know what I want, I want longevity, that’s what I want.” You have to be that specific.

“I want to do the work that people will talk about long after I am gone. I want to do work that matters. I want to do work that changes lives. So once I got focused on that, things started shifting for me. I just needed clarity and I felt like this was my purpose. It wasn’t just a gift or talent, it’s a purpose. It’s something that I am supposed to be doing that is bigger than me. What are you doing to help humanity?

What’s next for Taraji?
More animation! That animation film that I am going to star in and more producing.

To people who are feeling stuck in their dreams or their circumstances are standing in the way of their movement, what advice would you give them to just go for it!! Is it ever too late??
It’s never too late! See, again I go back to say, stay in your lane and STOP letting people project their shit onto you! People told me when I was 26, coming out to LA, after college, “You Too Late”! “You Too Old!” At 26, I’m too old? That sounds stupid to me. I just graduated from college and you’re telling me that I am over before I get started. That’s stupid. But see that’s projecting. Just because you didn’t make it by a certain time, that ain’t got nothing to do with me, that’s yours. That belongs to you. You keep that! So that is what you have to do! Age don’t mean nothing. And late bloomer, I stopped saying that. I used to call myself a late bloomer, but why? By who’s standards? By who’s time clock? As long as you have breathe in your body, you have another day to fulfill your purpose and to live your dream. Please don’t listen to people!!!

Pros’s and Con’s of Traditional vs. Self-Publishing

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Pros’s and Con’s of Traditional vs. Self-Publishing



The pros of traditional publishing
• Prestige, kudos and validation.
• Print distribution in bookstores is easier.
• An established professional team to work with.
• There are no upfront financial costs, and there’s usually some kind of advance against royalties.
• Literary prizes and critical acclaim are more likely through traditional publishing,
• Potential to become a brand-name author.

The pros of being an indie author
• Total creative control over content and design.
• Sense of Accomplishment
• Faster time to market.
• Higher royalties.
• Sell by any means in any global market, as you retain the rights.


The cons of traditional publishing
• Incredibly slow process.
• Loss of creative control.
• Low royalty rates.
• Lack of significant marketing help. • Save
• Once you sign a contract for your book, it essentially belongs to the publisher,

The cons of traditional publishing

• You need to do it all yourself or find suitable professionals to help.
• There’s no prestige, kudos or validation by the industry.
• You need a budget upfront if you want a professional result.
• It’s difficult to get print distribution in bookstores.
• Most literary prizes don’t accept indie books
• The important thing is that you, the creator, are empowered to choose per project how you would like to progress.

3 Avenues To Publishing

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3 Avenues To Publishing


Trade or Traditional Publishers

Traditional publishing refers to the established system of getting a book deal, which involves submission to agents over a period of time, usually a number of rejections and then (hopefully) being accepted. Then the agent will submit the manuscript to publishers with usually a number of rejections and then (hopefully)
a contract is signed. The book will then go through more edits and will eventually be published.

Vanity, Self and Contract Publishers

Vanity and contract presses print books under specialty contracts. Individual authors and companies pay all fees and costs for the publications printed in this category. These publishers assist in self-published books and charge fees based on the physical qualities of the book, including the number of pages and photographs, quality of the materials and the type of binding. The term vanity refers to the self-interest involved in the printing
project. Small businesses interested in publishing firm histories, founder biographies and texts focusing on company products use this category of publishing press.

Electronic Books

Electronic book publishing offers readers the opportunity to download text online or purchase digital books from retail stores. Only 6.2 percent of this total involved ebooks, but industry officials predict increased sales for digital books with huge increases for textbooks and best-selling trade books. Ebooks offer an inexpensive alternative for business-oriented publications and small printers interested in partnerships with large publishers
operating networks to promote the ebooks.


For more information, please visit penlegacy.com/publishing

7 Steps to Consider Before Publishing Your Book

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7 Steps to Consider Before Publishing Your Book


Can I share a little secret with you? The true art of authorship does not start until you actually publish the book! The goal of any author or writer is to get their story out to the masses, but the types of publishing and the amount of knowledge you know about the industry will dictate how successful you are.

There are levels to publishing and before you hit the pay button, here are 7 steps to make sure that your manuscript is worth the investment.

• Make sure your manuscript is consistent in font and font size.
• Make sure your storyline is relevant and relatable.
• Make sure your manuscript is professional edited, at least 3 to 5 times. Covering all elements of editing:
Substantive editing, Copyediting, and Proofreading
• Make sure you have a vibrant and storytelling book cover
• Make sure your synopsis matches the story plot or message that you are trying to convey.
• Make sure you know how to effectively price your book.
• Make sure you have a target audience follower, or support before you publish your book, there is nothing worse than to have a case of book and no sales.


If you need help before you pay to publishing, visit https://www.charronmonaye.com/coaching/ or contact my company for all of your publishing needs and services www.penlegacy.com

What Is FAITH?

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Even though there is a worldly definition of faith, in my opinion, Hebrew 11:1 is by far the best description of what faith is. Hebrew 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Before we move forward, what are some things you hoped for but let slip away because of your fear? How many times has your faith been tested because what you hoped for and the reality of a situation didn’t add up? Things you once believed were possible are now being deemed as impossible, thus giving you the spirit of quit. Are you in the spirit of quit right now? Or are you still working towards that goal, that promotion, or something else that will bring greater to your life?


Because you have to believe what you don’t see, I know firsthand just how hard it is to move on faith. I can remember taking a millionaire mastery class with multi-millionaire David Imonitie Jr., who spoke on the importance of faith from the spiritual aspect. He stressed that “your faith is the only way to communicate and get a response out of God.” When you are looking for things to change, you have to possess mustard seed faith, knowing that what you want and need is coming. Some of us lose faith because of our lack of patience. However, if we realized our patience allows us to prepare and work, we would save ourselves a lot of stress and grief. As I fought with keeping my faith and having more faith in the unseen, I learned to capitalize and leverage the work I had to do in the meantime. Manifesting, Patience, Environment, and Work are the ingredients of sustaining between Asking and Receiving. It’s almost like an equation:


Ask (Faith) ->  Manifesting, Patience, Environment, Work -> Receive (I have it!)


Faith is like planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. You have no idea where and how it will start sprouting; you just know it will. You need to have that kind of faith in your life. That’s the faith that wins the game. Before we move forward, let’s explore what you should be doing in the meantime during our period of waiting.