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17 Steps: A Federal Employee’s Guide for Tackling Workplace Discrimination, by Tanya Ward Jordan (Tanya Ward Jordan, M.S., 2018, 186 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

June 1, 2018 (San Diego) - Tanya Ward Jordan, M.S., President and Founder of The Coalition For Change, Inc., (C4C), has written an incisive and provocative book about the inner workings of the federal government; 17 Steps: A Federal Employee’s Guide for Tackling Workplace Discrimination, that is a must read.

Having written more than 250 book reviews, two of which contributed towards the authors winning the NAACP Image Award in Literature; Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Gregory Reed’s Obama Talks Back, I jumped at the opportunity of writing this review of Jordan’s 17 Steps, for it resonates with me in so many profound and personal ways.

From the very beginning of this book, the author makes a profound statement that captures the essence of what she attempts to convey: “In closing this chapter, I say, decisively, the federal government is not a model employer. Moreover, to the detriment of the American public, the government does not include all people in its business practices. Therefore, if you work for the government or if you plan to work in government, do yourself a favor: prepare to fight the giant! To start, take these two well-being mental health steps. First, save for survival. Second, learn your redress options.” Basically, what Jordan is saying is; “prepare for the long haul!”

Jordan chronicles her long and at times painful history in federal government employment in this well written and documented book. It is a how-to guide for federal employees and job applicants challenging unfair treatment in the federal workplace.

The tone and tenor of this well written and documented book by Jordan is established by her following statement; “As a black, American female in the federal government, I have traveled frequently through storms of inequality. Once, I had a supervisor pay me two grades (thousands of dollars) less than four white males doing the same job. On another occasion I had a supervisor deny me a salary increase for an outstanding performance rating I earned, even though he freely gave salary increases to my white peers with similar ratings. Furthermore, I’ve had another supervisor assign me to a storage area to work.” I feel her pain!

The author further states: “To my harm, I have surely suffered inequities as a public servant. I have endured pain emotionally, physically, and financially from federal workplace injustice. Therefore, as a way to promote my own self-healing and to promote the wellbeing of those facing similar mistreatment, I have written this helpful guide. The guidebook covers laws, court laws, court decisions, redress options, and strategies one should know before marching blindly into the government’s federal EEO complaint system, or should I say more fittingly – the lion’s den.” Again, I feel her pain!

17 Steps: A Federal Employee’s Guide for Tackling Workplace Discrimination, offers winning ways for employees to protect their well-being and to fight unlawful practices when navigating through the grueling Federal Equal Employment Opportunity “EEO” complaint process. The book – complete with diagrams, sample letters, personal testimony, web-link references, and case analysis – will provide invaluable help to employees facing federal workplace issues.

Jordan’s book is like preaching to the choir, for as a former Department of Defense employee, I have gone through the EEO process that she speaks of, all the way to the Supreme Court. Everyone doesn’t win in this process, but it is very important for everyone to define for themselves what winning actually means to them. In some instances, as in my case, it can be as simple as peace of mind and sanity. Those can’t be defined in monetary terms. Read attached Moore v. MSPB here.

Step 13 in this book actually is titled: “Unload Stress”, with Jordan specifically stating: “According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), job stress poses a threat to the health of workers. Evidence supports the fact that stress plays an important role in chronic health problems and psychological disorders. When workplace stress harms your ability to do your job or to manage your personal life, it is beyond time to unload stress. Stress wears down the body’s systems. It leads to premature mortality.” This is another instance in which Jordan’s book is like preaching to the choir, for in my more than 30 year battle with the Department of Defense for redress, all I have to show for it is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

Jordan emphasizes in this book that federal employees will learn how to:

  • Manage Workplace Stress
  • Prove A Prima Facie Discrimination Case
  • Fight Unlawful Adverse Personnel Actions
  • Get The Most From Settlement Talks
  • Argue Claims Successfully With Proven Case Law
  • Request Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act Records
  • Avoid Common EEO Counseling and Complaint Filing Mistakes
  • Pursue Reasonable Accomodations and Family Medical Leave
  • File A Worker’s Compensation Claim and A Federal Tort Claim
  • Commence An Employment Lawsuit In Court … and MORE!

This book is a template for success in the federal government for employees tackling workplace discrimination.

Ironically, Jordan writes in this book her involvement and support of the No Fear Act, legislation spearheaded by Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, who subsequently wrote the book No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption And Retaliation At The EPA, which this writer would write a book review of. The further irony is that I would incorporate the No Fear Act as a claim in my own federal lawsuit against the Merit Systems Protection Board, which would wind itself through the federal district court in San Diego, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately the Supreme Court.

Jordan chronicles and profiles a number of federal lawsuits tackling workplace discrimination, most notably, Williams v. Dodaro, 806 F. Supp. 2d 246 (2011), and Civil Action No. 1:07-CV-1452. In this case, the late Diane Williams named her former supervisor, Anne Wagner as an alleged discriminating official. Ironically, after Anne Wagner would become vice chair of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), this writer too would file a federal lawsuit against Wagner, which would wind itself through the federal district court in San Diego, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

The author describes Diane Williams thusly; “Diane Williams – A Civil Rights Trailblazer”, notably due to Title VII being used successfully for the first time in a sexual harassment case; Williams v. Saxbe, 413 F. Supp. 654. Jordan points out in her book that the case was decided on April 20, 1976 in Williams’ favor.

Some interesting revelations came out of the Williams v. Dodaro lawsuit, namely, that Anne Wagner lied to Congress in her confirmation hearing to become Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, which this writer challenged in his lawsuit against her. Wagner was specifically asked if there were any conflicts of interests in her past at the time of her confirmation hearing – Wagner omitted the fact that was she embroiled in the federal lawsuit with Diane Williams at that very time and that she was an alleged discriminating official and the one that actually proposed the firing of Diane Williams, which the court records would indicate was a very contentious and abrasive act by Wagner against Williams.

Another significant case and federal lawsuit that the author chronicles and profiles, is that of Anthony Perry v. U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, Case No. 16-399. This pro se litigant, and C4C member, took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, and won! Mr. Perry inspired me to do the same, although I was not as successful as him. Read the attached Anthony Perry v. U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board here.

Jordan’s book is sprinkled with biblical and scriptural anecdotes, which actually gives insight into her heart and soul. Specifically, Proverbs 4:23-27. This remarkable woman states in her book 17 Steps: “The night of December 13, 2008, the pain of discrimination replayed in my mind like a scratched record on a turntable. I kept seeing the Justice Department attorney’s mocking face. Likewise, I kept seeing the puffed-up faces of the Commerce Department’s discriminating managers who had dodged discipline. As I tossed in bed, I weighed the option of accepting the government’s offer to end my decade long complaint. From my pillow, I prayerfully and tearfully asked: Lord, what am I to do? After releasing those words, an unexpected calm fell over me. I lifted up from the bed, I walked toward my computer, and, without any earlier plans to do so, I trademarked the name The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C).”

The author sums up this amazing book by further stating: “The next morning, Sunday, December 14, 2008, I asked myself: What have I done? As I sat befuddled, sipping coffee in the kitchen, an inner voice summoned me to reach for my Bible. When I grabbed for it, a page opened to Solomon’s Proverbs. The heading read: A Father’s Advice. As I prayed for understanding, I studied the passage Proverbs 4: 23-27. I kept highlighting the words with my yellow marker until I submitted to a mighty inner call for me to attend church. Less than two hours later, I entered Zion Church in Landover, Maryland. The choir sang in harmony – “Let justice and praise be my embrace.” Their melodious and righteous words caused my tears to fall. When the music stopped, Pastor Keith Battle of Zion Church emerged and he declared:

Some of you are taking a follower’s position when God has called you to lead. So today, I am going to share with you instructions to build your character that will determine your future success. You will need these instructions as you take on that David and Goliath fight.

Next, a large screen emerged with the words of Solomon’s Proverbs 4:23-27. The Pastor started explaining the passage the Holy Spirit had revealed to me only hours before coming to church. On Sunday, December 14, 2008, I received confirmation of my life’s purpose to lead and help others in The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C). I know, without a doubt, God calls me to use the C4C platform to promote equality in the Federal workplace and to improve the lives of mistreated Americans.”

To follow Jordan’s biblical and scriptural anecdote, there is another passage in the Bible that is appropriate for what she has written. It is at Proverbs 27-2, which states: “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” I choose to praise the author for what she has written in 17 Steps: A Federal Employee’s Guide For Tackling Workplace Discrimination, for I feel it will guide and assist many other similarly situated current and former federal employees.

There are many other women throughout history that have championed the cause of the maligned and disenfranchised, such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, but after reading this book and the numerous phone conversations and email communications that I have had with the author over the years, she certainly deserves to be included in that group. As a matter of fact, in 2014, Jordan received the Fannie Lou Hamer Civil Rights Activist of the Year recognition from the African American Voice Newspaper, which reminds me of Hamer’s time-honored phrase: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!”

Once she learned the joy and benefit of advocating for others, Jordan reached out to elected officials, like Representative Elijah Cummings. She shared with the Congressman some ideas she had to promote a healthier workplace within the federal government. On July 11, 2017, Congressman Cummings recognized her contributions in support of federal EEO program reforms. Her input for federal reforms were reflected in a bill, known as the Federal Employee Anti-discrimination Act of 2017, which addresses discrimination in the federal workplace.

This is a book that everyone should have in their possession, especially current and former federal employees needing guidance on tackling workplace discrimination.

Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and he is the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

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"In Black Skin"

In Black Skin is a reflective and illustrative poetry collection that takes the reader on a lyrical journey from Black enslavement in America to the Black Lives Matter movement. This literary work, divided into five chapters and inspired by actual events, expresses sentiments around injustice, inequality, and inhumanity from the Black American lens. Chapter One, “Sankofa Reflections,” covers American slavery, segregation, and the Great Migration. Chapter Two, “Living in Black Skin,” covers gentrification, incarceration, job discrimination, and racial profiling. Chapter Three, “Black Lives Matter,” highlights related themes on the movement. Chapter Four, “Say Their Names,” speaks on the unjust killing of Black Americans, such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Chapter Five, “Elevation,” celebrates the rise of Black Americans and their invaluable contributions to the nation despite facing plaguing discrimination in American society. In Black Skin is a part of the author's newest series of books that capture the spirit and challenges of Black life in America in the context of race. Tanya DeVonne, the author, is the pen name of Tanya Ward Jordan, President, and Founder of the Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C), a civil rights organization challenging racism and reprisal in the federal workplace. The book is available on Amazon.

"Sipping Wine Over Rhymes" --Tanya DeVonne

Weeks ago, I gave a speech before the University of Maryland Global College (UMGC) Toastmasters Power Speakers club. I titled my speech: Sipping Wine Over Rhymes. I named it after the book I wrote under my pen name “Tanya DeVonne.” During my talk, I told Toastmaster members how I had suffered, like so many Americans, from the toxic climate mix of racism, partisan politics and COVID-19 pandemic. I also told group members how I had discovered expressive writing as a way to cope with the unsettling times. After years of addressing racial inequality in the federal workplace, I learned of the therapeutic benefits of creative writing. In my book 17 Steps: A Federal Employee’s Guide For Tackling Workplace Discrimination, I discuss the importance of self-care. Expressive writing, such as journaling and poetry, can be most beneficial for one’s mental well-being. Tanya Ward Jordan, Founder-The Coalition For Change Author- 17 Steps: A Federal Employee's Guide For Tackling Workplace Author-Sipping Wine Over Rhymes (Pen-Tanya DeVonne)

NABJ selected authors "In Black Skin" for "Outstanding Book"

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has selected subject author's "In Black Skin" for Outstanding Book of the Year Award, as indicated to me by the author. It is interesting to note, and somewhat ironic, that the President of the National Association of Black Journalists, Dorothy Tucker, and I actually attended the same church on the southside of Chicago, and she graduated from the same high school as my sister. It has been many years since I last saw Dorothy, as we sat across from each other at a dinner table at our church, the Apostolic Church of God, the same Church that President Obama gave his famous Father's Day speech at.



"In Black Skin" is an absolute fantastic book, and it is a followup to subject book by the author that I had the honor to review in the East County Magazine. "In Black Skin" is a reflective and illustrative poetry collection that takes the reader on a lyrical journey from Black enslavement in America to the Black Lives Matter movement. This literary work, divided into five chapters and inspired by actual events, expresses sentiments around injustice, inequality, and inhumanity through the Black American lens. 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - A Failing Agency

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is to serve as an enforcement agency to root out discrimination. However, the federal entity not only fails at its mission, it also engages in discriminatory treatment of its own employees. (Bullock v Berrien, 2012). Most recently, one of the EEOC’s top officials, Office of Federal Official Director Carlton Hadden has been named in a discrimination lawsuit (Menoken v Dhillon). The Coalition For Change, Inc., (C4C) campaign serves to draw attention to EEOC’s failures in effectively executing its mandate as established on July 2, 1965 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As an advocacy group, consisting of present and former employees harmed by discrimination in the federal sector, C4C serves to bring about a positive change in the federal culture that provides for the well-being of civil servants to better serve the American public. Mr. Moore, thank you for writing the article and providing a forum to expose the ills in government that harms all Americans. TWEET #EXPOSEEEOC

A Salute To A Civil Rights Giant: Rep. Elijah E.Cummings

The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) members will forever value the life and legacy of Representative E. Cummings. He was a fearless advocate for civil rights who believed in equality for all people and he led with diplomacy. When the C4C leadership went to Rep. Cummings to ask if he would lead our cause and be our champion to address rampant discrimination in the federal government. He did not hesitate to lead the charge. He acted immediately. He introduced amendments to the No FEAR Act to strengthen anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection laws. In "17 STEPS," I (Tanya Ward Jordan) reference the bill Congressman Cummings introduced. In January 2019, Rep. Cummings reintroduced the bill H.R. 135: Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2019. The C4C will continue to uphold the values Rep. Congressman espoused. For as Rep. Cummings stated, "We must preserve our democracy." We must provide an opportunity for all Americans. See video links below: Wake UP America: We Are Better Than This!

The ABCs of How to File a Federal EEO Complaint

The ABCs of How to File a Federal EEO Complaint is the self-help book you need to file a federal complaint. From the first meeting with an EEO counselor to filing a formal complaint, this book describes the real set-up of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint process, allowing you to reduce legal costs and protect your well-being when opposing workplace discrimination. Federal employees or job applicants who oppose unfair treatment at work will find this book - complete with winning strategies - invaluable.

#EXPOSEEEOC Campaign: What's Your Story

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is to explain and enforce federal laws barring discrimination in the American workplace. However, the federal agency often ignores the unlawful discriminatory acts of "federal" officials. The latest Annual Report on the Federal Workforce on the EEOC’s website shows federal workplace discrimination statistics for the fiscal year 2015. The report expressly shows how seldom federal agencies, including the EEOC, rule in favor of complainants. Out of the 6,009 merit complaints closed, the federal government found discrimination (against itself) in only 168 cases (2.7%). Several factors contribute to the low rate of discrimination findings in the federal workplace. The EEOC report is silent on such factors, including the fact that it unequally applies Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint guidelines. It allows federal agencies to miss critical deadlines. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, an EEOC Commissioner once admitted a “complaint would be dismissed if a complainant missed any of the deadlines”(GAO-09-712, Equal Employment Opportunity, August 2009, p.12). Ms. Furch is a victim of a broken system that fails far too many federal workers.

What you gotta do . . .

Thank you, Dennis -- your excellent review has piqued my curiosity. The author comes across as an eminently relatable, wise guide for those undertaking a daunting fight against workplace discrimination via litigation. I am also attracted by her holistic approach in advising the audience for this book.

"17 Steps" by Tanya Ward Jordan

This incisive book by Tanya Ward Jordan is essential for all federal employees, especially if they are going to seek redress for issues of discrimination.

17 Steps & Discrimination

Jordan is correct in advising to prepare for the long haul. The government does not hold racist managers responsible when they discriminate against Blacks and most especially Black Female Muslims!


The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT does not hold racist managers ACCOUNTABLE when they discriminate against Blacks and most especially Black Female Muslims!

""In Black Skin"

A timely book by Tanya DeVonne coming at the end of "Black History Month", "In Black Skin: Poetic Journey from Black Enslavement in America to Black Lives Matter." 

The Rosa Parks of the Federal Government

Thank you for this very informative article, sharing your gift of writing, and telling those in need how to get this self-help guide to tackle the persistent discrimination present in the federal government.

Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

An internal affairs office at the Justice Department has found that, over the last decade, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work. This is enlightening considering that the author Jordan points out in her 17-Steps book that federal employees or agencies charged with discriminating against other federal employees, are actually defended in court by the Justice Department attorneys themselves. See POGO report by clicking on here.


...should not be happening anywhere. It's a very sad reflection on humanity on how we often times treat one another.