Characteristics of Blackballing in the Workplace

Got a pinkslip? Could be the result of blackballing.

Got a pinkslip? Could be the result of blackballing.

Even the term “blackballing” sounds dark and dangerous. The process of blackballing is an exclusionary one in which a current, former or future employee is inequitably denied the right to participate in the business arena. The term comes from ancient Greece, according to language instruction site Curso ER, and is derived from a classical voting process in which individuals in a group voted in or out members by placing light or dark shells into a voting receptacle. While the origins of the term are old, the practice isn’t extinguished. Blackballing can and does still happen. If you suspect that you are being blackballed, there are tell-tale signs that you are on the receiving end of this negative treatment.

Private Meetings

Often, one of the first signs of blackballing is exclusion from company meetings to which you may previously have been invited, suggests Bill Gorden for “The Workplace Doctors.” By simply not inviting employees with whom they are displeased to meetings, those in power can deny them the opportunity to actively participate in business decision making and perhaps even create situations in which these workers will fail. For example, if an employee is inadequately informed of an upcoming change in the business model, he will be unable to adapt to this change and his performance will suffer, giving the employer potentially looking for a reason to oust the employee ammunition to do so.

Unjust Termination

Getting fired is tough, but it can happen. Not all firing is a result of blackballing, but if you were fired without cause it just might be. If your firing is preceded by actions that seem to indicate that your employer is unjustly unhappy with you, a sudden firing might be a sign that you are being blackballed, at the company and even in your industry. (ICS World)

Application Denial

The reach of your employer may extend beyond the office walls. Employers that truly have a beef with an employee might not be satisfied with simply dismissing the employee. He may actually reach out to other companies and put in negative words about the now job-seeking employee. This can happen post-firing or if you leave a company against the employer’s wishes. Because applications can be turned down for a multitude of reasons, it is next to impossible to prove that your application was rejected as a result of blackballing. (ICS World)

Client Contacts

Maintaining a steady stream of paying clients is a must for success in the world of business. In some instances, blackballed individuals or companies will have this steady stream cut off. The person championing the blackballing may do so by contacting clients with whom the individual or company has formerly worked and encouraging them to no longer engage in business with company or individual. This can happen on a large scale -- with companies being denied contracts by major organizations or governmental agencies, or on the small scale -- with disgruntled former employers contacting all of a beautician’s clients and spreading some negative gossip to dissuade them from seeking her services.

 

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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