Fire Harry Crane

April 16, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Mad Men can be tough to watch for an employment lawyer. I was thinking of this while watching the show’s most recent episode, “New Business.” In a particularly cringe-worthy scene, Harry Crane propositions Megan under the pretense that he can help get her acting career back on track. Harry is a buffoon and a jackass, and I wondered if he was exposing the firm to potential liability. iStock_000051863008_XXXLarge

There is precedent for the theory that an employee who harasses a third party can expose his employer to vicarious liability. Twenty-five years ago, a New York trial court  famously found that a model was sexually harassed by Penthouse Enterprises, which, among other things, required her to engage in sexual activities for the benefit of the company’s business. In that case the model was quasi-employed by Penthouse, but the court pointed out that the conduct constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as sexual harassment.

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Workaholics: Drug testing

April 06, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 3 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

The Comedy Central show Workaholics is currently in its fifth season of depicting a fresh (and hilarious) human resources nightmare week after week. The show is about three recent college dropouts (Blake, Adam, and Anders) who also happen to be roommates and coworkers at a fictional telemarketing company, TelAmeriCorp. To give you an idea of just how mischievous these three can be, their drug dealer/turtle feeder is also a regular fixture on the show. iStock_000003274349_Large

Fittingly, the pilot episode deals with the trio attempting to pass a company-wide drug test after a day of partying. Their shenanigans include, for example, bribing a middle school boy with fireworks and ninja stars in exchange for clean urine. When this plan goes awry (I won’t give away the messy details), the group decides to accept their  fate and take the drug test. Blake, however, finds inspiration from the film Die Hard and decides to contaminate ALL the employees’ samples before escaping just in the nick of time. Shocked to find that all TelAmeriCorp employees failed the drug test, Alice Murphy (senior sales associate and boss to our oddly endearing–though often disgusting and misguided–trio) relieves the drug tester of his duties. Blake, Adam, and Anders celebrate only to learn that the company has planned a hair follicle test.

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Business lessons from WrestleMania 31

March 30, 2015 - by: Josh Sudbury 1 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

The biggest sports entertainment event of the year is in the books. Did you miss it? Nope, I’m not talking about the NCAA Tournament or even the Cricket World Cup—by the way, you can rest easy since Australia beat New Zealand by 7 wickets to capture its 5th Championship—I’m talking about WrestleMania 31. Yes, the penultimate event for the more-than-semi-scripted man drama took place on Sunday before a live audience of 76,976 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, and countless millions watching at home on pay-per-view. wrestlemania

WrestleMania didn’t just deliver at the box office. The event featured show-stopping action from big name headliners, both past and present. For those of you who missed all that glorious “wrastlin,’” I’ll give you the 30-second recap: The Big Show defeat 20-plus wrestlers to take home the trophy in the 2nd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal; Triple H (who entered the ring dressed as the Terminator) defeated Sting after both “D-Generation X” and “nWo”—including The Real American himself, Hulk Hogan—intervened on behalf of both fighters; John Cena defeated Russian fighter “Rusev” (who entered the venue on nothing less than an actual TANK!) to win something called the “United States Championship belt”; Daniel Bryan climbed a ladder and out-head-butted Dolph Ziggler to grab the “Intercontinental” Championship belt; The Undertaker laid to rest Bray Wyatt with a move known as the “Tombstone Piledriver”; and, most importantly, Seth Rollins curb-stomped his way to the WWE World Heavyweight title, defeating Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Oh yeah, and Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson called on Women’s UFC Champion Rhonda Rousey to clean up a little trash in the ring. Whew! I’m tired just describing it.

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Parks Madness

March 25, 2015 - by: David Kim 1 COMMENTS
David Kim

In February, one of my favorite televisions shows, Parks and Recreation, concluded its magnificent seven-season run. While it had typical struggles in the early going, it soon hit its stride and gave us a cast of interesting characters whom we got to see evolve from their first interaction with the Pawnee, Indiana, Parks Department all the way into their eventual future lives. March Madness Businessman Hand Filling In Bracket From Above

The beginning of March Madness has helped to alleviate some of the void left by the departure of Parks (yes, I’m on a first-name basis with the show). In honor of both of these exceptional television viewing experiences, I decided to do a Parks-inspired March Madness bracket to determine which Parks character would be the most ideal employee for an organization, and conversely as a result, who would make an HR director pull his or hair out with worry about potential liability or lack of productiveness.

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Blacklisting

March 18, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 3 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

One of my colleagues did an evil thing last month: He encouraged me to give NBC’s The Blacklist a try. Clown Businessman

Ever since, I’ve been hooked on James Spader’s character, Raymond “Red” Reddington. Without spoiling anything for the uninitiated, Red is a fixture on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, a supremely enterprising international underworld mercenary, and a brilliant mind who surrenders himself to the FBI for reasons that still are unknown to viewers. All we do know is that Red has agreed to help the FBI apprehend a number of vile criminals, gangsters, thugs, and scrubbed-up lowlifes (many of whom the FBI had no reason to suspect of any criminal involvement). He feeds these names to a special FBI task force one at a time, and each episode’s title is named for the latest name Red pulls from his mental (wait for it…) “Blacklist.”

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Categories: Uncategorized

It’s never easy, but Oprah delivers layoff news in person

March 09, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 6 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Last week, entertainment powerhouse and former talk-show host Oprah Winfrey announced that Harpo Studios in Chicago will be closing its doors by the end of the year, resulting in the loss of nearly 200 jobs. In typical Oprah fashion, she delivered the bad news to her employees in person, probably ambling around the room, microphone-in-hand, and breaking into her famous “ugly cry” for good measure. Handling employee layoffs are never easy, even if you’re Oprah, but here are three steps to follow if your business ever needs to downsize:

Harpo Studios, Chicago

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Live long and diversify your workforce

March 02, 2015 - by: Andy Tanick 1 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

The death of Leonard Nimoy this week brought back many memories of the actor’s classic portrayal of Mr. Spock in the original “Star Trek” television series and subsequent movies, as well as his talents as a photographer, writer, and lecturer.Man giving Vulcan salute

Spock, as personified by Nimoy, embodied many qualities that employers value in their workforce, such as intelligence, logic, and loyalty. But as I was lying awake at night desperately trying to think of some justification for paying tribute to Nimoy–who was, by all accounts, truly a kind, thoughtful, and intellectual man–in a blog about employment law, something else struck me: how “Star Trek” depicted the ultimate diverse workplace, decades before anyone was even talking about such things.

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Pay the lady

February 24, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at this year’s Academy Awards, and people are still buzzing about her acceptance speech where she exclaimed: “It’s our time to have wageshutterstock_225011584 equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Arquette will be pleased to know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) vigorously administers the Equal Pay Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work. In fact, an EPA complainant doesn’t even have to file a charge with the EEOC and, unlike with Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act, can proceed straight to court with a lawsuit.

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‘Transparent’ brings gender identity issues to forefront

February 13, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 1 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Amazon’s streaming series Transparent follows Maura Pfefferman (born Morton Pfefferman and played by Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development fame), a retired political science professor and parent of three adult children, as she finally reveals to her family that she has always identified as a woman. The show’s creator, Jill Soloway, was inspired by her own father, who came out as a transgender woman. Behind the scenes, Soloway has gone to significant lengths to ensure that the story of Maura’s journey is treated with sensitivity and respect.  Transgender Symbol

For example, Soloway has enacted a “transfirmative action plan,” which has included hiring at least 20 transgender cast and crew members, more than 60 transgender extras, and two full-time transgender consultants. In addition, all the bathrooms on set are gender-neutral, and Soloway has distributed copies of Julia Serano’s trans memoir “Whipping Girl” to her cast and crew. Not only has the show’s subject matter and Soloway’s hiring/workplace practices broken new ground, but Transparent also has made Amazon the first digital streaming service to win a Golden Globe for Best Television Series with Tambor also taking home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy.

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“I’m Ron ******* Swanson”

February 09, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 2 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Ron Swanson is the man. If you’re not a Parks & Recreation devotee, I can’t recommend enough that you tune in if for no other reason than to enjoy his morsels of wit and wisdom. For the uninitiated, Ron Swanson is fictional Pawnee, Indiana’s, director of Parks & Recreation. He’s a crusty, deadpan, hard-core libertarian who objects to the very existence of his own employer. Thanks to the show’s mockumentary format, Ron treats viewers to a steady diet of quips and advice that are absolutely hilarious.  Ron Swanson!

I have several favorites, and I’ve picked a few that touch on HR issues. Feel free to add others in the comments: read more…

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