Kicking Doors Open and Advocating for Yourself: Self Advocacy Tips From an Employment Law Expert

By Marci Bryant, MBA 

As more and more companies implement return-to-work mandates in Corporate America, many workers are dreading having to return to offices that are filled with things that they don’t miss. Things like office politics, countless greetings, forced fake smiles, uninteresting small talk, microaggressions from teammates and bullying behavior from leaders all threaten the peace that many have found working from the comfort of their own homes. 

We had a chat with an employment law expert who shares self-advocacy tips to help you in the workplace. Before returning to the office, use these tips to advocate for yourself so that you can avoid the pitfalls of a toxic work environment. 


Attorney Chiquita Hall-Jackson is a published author and an employment law attorney that is dedicated to speaking up for workers whose voices have been silenced by workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. She founded Hall Jackson and Associates, an employment law firm in Chicago, IL, after facing her own experiences with race and gender bias while growing her legal career. 

Career Mastered: Thanks so much for speaking with me about self-advocacy in the workplace. Your slogan is “Blow the Whistle”. Can you tell me how the phrase became a mantra for fighting workplace discrimination? 

Attorney Chiquita Hall-Jackson: I want to help people who don’t necessarily have enough to win in court, but need help figuring out how to get from underneath the poor treatment they are receiving in the workplace. I decided enough is enough, because it’s just a lot of bullying and microaggressions that I don’t believe people should be subjected to whether they have a legal standing to sue or not. I came up with Blow the Whistle to help educate workers and let them know their rights so that they will have the power to advocate for themselves.

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Career Mastered: You recently released a book called, ‘We Gon’ Be Alright: A Black Executive’s Guide to Navigating Workplace Dynamics.’ What was the inspiration behind this book?

Attorney Chiquita Hall-Jackson: The goal of the book is ultimately to help people take their voice back in the workplace to advocate for themselves, to know what’s wrong or right, and all the things they need to consider prior to litigation. I discuss how to advocate for yourself starting with the interview, through the hiring process, while in the role and advancing up the corporate ladder, all the way to exiting the workplace gracefully with your reputation intact, and show people how to use that experience to negotiate a settlement agreement so that if they do have some down time before their next role, they have a financial cushion that isn’t causing them to dip into their savings or retirement. 

Career Mastered: What are some tips you can provide on selfadvocacy at various stages of hiring and employment? 

Attorney Chiquita Hall-Jackson: Ask about company culture, management styles, and how the position became available. Having a legal professional review your employment offer means you can spot corporate issues before they impact you and negotiate what you need to be satisfied in your role – even if the request might be outside of the company norms. 

While working, take detailed notes so that you can correctly recall conversations and requests, if your work or commentary are ever questioned. If you get upset about something, step away to think and breathe before you react and watch your tone when you finally do respond. If something is discussed in person or over the phone, follow up with an email to leave a paper trail of all pertinent information. 

Find allies in leadership to help champion your ideas and speak your name in rooms that you haven’t yet entered. Keep your employee handbook accessible and become very educated about your rights as an employee under the company and under the law. 

In addition to being a licensed employment attorney and published author, Hall-Jackson is an adjunct professor certified in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell State and was named the first Black President of the National Employment Lawyers Association of Illinois. Connect with her @blowthewhistlelaw on all social media and find the book at blowthewhistlelaw. com. 

x Marci Bryant, MBA is the founder and CEO of SYNC Digital Agency, a business-to-business agency focused on enhancing digital experiences for companies using marketing automation, responsive websites, and CMMS. Connect with Marci on social media at @marcibryantmba and via her website www.

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