Charlotte Riots Remind Law Firm Managers To Quash Incivility In The Workplace

North Carolina is steeped with African American history. It’s the place where Harriet Jacobs, born in Edenton, NC, escaped life on a plantation and wrote one of the first narratives about slavery and the fight for freedom by slaves in the South.

Three hours west in Greensboro, NC, is the site where, in 1960, four university freshmen sat down at the “whites only” lunch counter and made a formidable stand against the laws of segregation.

Just one and half hours south is Charlotte, NC, where the Gantt Center preserves African-American art, history, and culture, including quilts from the Underground Railroad and textiles from West Africa (not to mention Harvey Gantt was Charlotte’s first African-American mayor).

But Charlotte, this very minute, can hardly remember the key role it played in the Civil Rights movement; not just in the Greensboro sit-in, but as recently as 2008, when the predominantly conservative Republican State of North Carolina voted Democrat, leading Barack Obama to the White House on a 0.32% margin of victory.

The struggle in North Carolina for African Americans is real. Black Americans in North Carolina face an unemployment rate nearly double than their white counterparts. In this majority rural, conservative area, black Americans remain a minority, economically and socially.

Today, in Charlotte, nobody has it right—not the police, for cherry-picking where and against whom they use deadly force; and not the people, for protesting violently when the U.S. Constitution allows for effective, peaceful alternatives.

A second night of police-protest rioting sent at least one civilian to critical condition and led the city of Charlotte to declare a state of emergency. Officers in riot gear used tear gas and flash grenades during a standoff with a violent crowd, who was protesting the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a father of seven, outside his condominium complex, reports the NY Post.

Meanwhile, demonstrators are still smashing windows and defacing storefronts in downtown Charlotte.

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral,” spoke Martin Luther King Jr. during his Nobel Lecture on December 11, 1964.

It’s a shame we are only reminded once a year on January 16th of MLK’s wise words.

“I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

It is a state of emergency for us all when we’ve forgotten the legal outlets for free speech and protest for which our forefathers already fought. It’s these laws upon which this nation was built and remains unique in the world.

Big or small, there’s no excuse for skirting the law.

As law firm managers, it’s even more important to remember and enforce the legal outlets for dealing with uncivil behavior.

According to the Wall Street Journal, as much as 96 percent of employees have been treated rudely at the office, and 50 percent say it happens at least once a week.

What’ s more alarming, 26% of employees say they’ve quit a job because of “a lack of civility.” Beyond losing talent, disrespectful, rude and offensive behavior carries a high price; it wreaks havoc on employee relationships and morale, diminishes collaboration, and chips away at your bottom-line.

Take the Center for Competitive Management’s webinar “Incivility at Work: Essential Strategies for Squashing Rude Behavior and Creating a More Productive, Positive Workplace.

This information-packed webinar will help you master the three A’ s you need to combat and transform negative, disrespectful behavior and make your workplace a happier, more productive place. You will learn practical steps to:

  • Assess the problem;
  • Address the instigators; and
  • Ax out the behavior once, and for all.

If only police brutality (and communicating the value of peaceful assembly) could be handled so easily…

 

-WB

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