No bluff: Wright demands equal pay on House of Cards

Kristin Starnes Gray

Actress Robin Wright, who plays the formidable Claire Underwood on House of Cards, is the latest in the entertainment world to speak out on equal pay. According to a recent interview, Wright demanded equal pay after statistics showed that her character was just as popular (if not more so) than that of her male costar, Kevin Spacey. In negotiating a pay raise to make her earnings equal to Spacey’s (who reportedly earns half a million per episode), Wright says she threatened “to go public.” Channeling her inner Claire, Wright came out on top. Playing Card-club Queen, isolated on white background with clipp

Wright has joined a growing number of women in the sports and entertainment world who have spoken out on pay inequality. We recently did a post on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s demands for pay equal to their male counterparts. In addition, Patricia Arquette famously spoke about pay inequality at the Oscars in 2015. Jennifer Lawrence later spoke out about earning considerably less than her male costars in American Hustle because of the gender pay gap in Hollywood. Meryl Street sent letters to each member of Congress, accompanied by a copy of the book Equal Means Equal by Jessica Neuwirth, asking them to revive the long dormant Equal Rights Amendment.

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U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team alleges gender wage discrimination

April 01, 2016 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Five star players of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo) made headlines this week by filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging gender wage discrimination against the U.S. Soccer Federation.  In their charge, the players allege that they should be paid at least as much as (if not more than) the players for the Men’s National Team.  The players filed the charge amid contentious negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement, which have already resulted in a separate lawsuit and serious questions about whether the team will be participating in the Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. Soccer Stars

In their charge, the players allege that they are paid as little as 38 percent of what the Men’s National Team Players earn.  More specifically, the charge alleges that top-tier Women’s National Team Players earn $72,000 per year to play a minimum of 20 exhibition games (“Friendlies,” with no additional pay for games beyond the 20unlike the men’s team which is paid for each game played) and that they earn $99,000 if they win all 20 Friendlies.  Meanwhile, the men earn $100,000 if they lose all their Friendlies and can earn up to approximately $260,000 if they win.  As for the World Cup, the women’s team earned a total of $2 million last year for their championship performance in Canada while the men’s team was paid a total $9 million despite their failure to advance past the top 16 in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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Beyonce: I just might be the next Bill Gates in the making

February 08, 2016 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Who wants to be the next Bill Gates in the making? The answer may surprise you. Beyoncé (or “Queen Bey”), a music scene A-lister and the woman who “runs the world” (if you ask her legions of devoted fans, known as the “BeyHive”), gives the world’s richest man a major shout-out in her new single, “Formation.” If you have not seen the video on YouTube or streamed the track on Tidal, Beyoncé gave us all a taste of it in Sunday night’s Super Bowl halftime show with Coldplay and Bruno Mars. In her new single, she sings, “You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making/I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.” Gates may appreciate the positive press, especially after some recent criticism about his early managerial methods, such as his penchant for profanity and prowling the parking lot on weekends to document who had arrived at work. leadership

Gates, who has seemingly mellowed considerably over the years, has been pretty open about his early methods, disclosing in a recent radio interview for BBC’s “Desert Island Discs” that he did not really believe in vacations and he memorized everyone’s license plates to see when people came into work. However, Gates stated, “I had to be a little careful not to try and apply my standards to how hard [others] worked . . . . Eventually I had to loosen up as the company got to a reasonable size.” Others have come forward over the years with stories about Gates’ allegedly harsh leadership style earlier in his career.

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Bloodline: We did a bad thing

December 11, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.” This is the tagline for the Netflix original thriller-drama Bloodline. If you haven’t seen it, run to add it to your watch list immediately. The show takes us into the lives of the Rayburn family, owners of a picturesque beachside hotel in the Florida Keys. Despite the gorgeous backdrop, this family is plagued by its dark and violent past. Pay attention to the opening sequence because a storm is certainly coming.  Woman Mugshot

When the oldest son, Danny, returns home after years away, the family reunion is anything but happy. Need proof? We know from the very start that Danny will end up dead by the hands of one (or more) of his siblings, but it will take the rest of the first season to unravel who kills him, how, and why.

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American Horror Story: Hotel—Gaga for this deliciously terrifying workplace

October 12, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

The latest installment of American Horror Story was off to a screaming start with the premiere of Hotel. If you missed it, proceed with caution as this article contains some minor spoilers on the first episode. This season is set in a sprawling art deco hotel that manages to be both beautiful and frightening at the same time, much like its penthouse occupant, The Countess (played by Lady Gaga). From vampires (large and small) devouring hotel guests to The Addiction Demon crawling out of mattresses with a drill bit dildo, working in this hotel is not for the faint of heart.  read more…

Game of Thrones: Trial by combat

August 17, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 4 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Winter is coming, but not soon enough for those of us eager for Season 6 of Game of Thrones.  While we wait, I’d like to rewind to one of my favorite episodes from Season 4 involving Tyrion’s trial for the murder of his nephew. As you may recall, Tyrion’s long-time rivalry with his sister, Cersei, comes to a head when she falsely accuses him of murdering her son. Watching the ensuing trial should make us all thankful that Trial by combatwe do not live in Westeros. Tyrion stands alone, with no legal counsel, facing a panel of judges who can hardly be considered fair or unbiased. Indeed, Tyrion’s father seems the most eager to see him dead. After enduring one misleading and/or outright lying witness after another, without the opportunities for cross-examination or to present any evidence whatsoever, Tyrion realizes he will get no justice in that trial. His solution: Demand trial by combat.

Thankfully, our own court system is much more concerned about such things as fairness and justice, so employers aren’t forced to resort to trial by combat in employment litigation. For example, our system permits the parties the opportunities for cross examination and to present written documentation and other admissible evidence at trial. In addition, there are rules of evidence to determine what is or is not admissible and to weed out unreliable evidence such as hearsay.

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The Devil Wears Prada: Meryl Streep and the Queen Bee myth

Kristin Starnes Gray

You’ve seen her splashed across the big screen, small screen, computer screen, and even your tablet screen, but have you ever actually met the fabled Executive Queen Bee? We’re talking about the stereotypical top female executive who stomps on other women on her way to the top, reveling in her success while ignoring or sabotaging the advancement of other women. According to a recent study by researchers at Columbia Business School and the University of Maryland’s business school, this Executive Queen Bee is a myth.  Queen Bee

A recent Washington Post article spotlighted this intriguing study noting, “One of the most enduring stereotypes in the American workplace is that of the ‘queen bee’: the executive female who, at best, doesn’t help the women below her get ahead and, at worst, actively hinders them.” Meryl Streep (an outspoken activist for wage equality and women’s rights) famously and stylishly portrayed a fictional Queen Bee in The Devil Wears Prada, which is based on a best-selling novel of the same name. In the film and novel, Streep’s character (Miranda Priestly) alternates between coldly ignoring and hotly abusing her female minions. For example, she demands that one of her female assistants acquire the new, unpublished Harry Potter novel with the underlying threat of immediate termination for failure to complete this seemingly impossible task. Such characters clearly make for excellent box office and book sales, but are these Executive Queen Bees a reality of the modern workplace?

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Dirty Dancing: hot summer hiring considerations

Kristin Starnes Gray

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to pull out those warm-weather clothes and dust off my copy of Dirty Dancing, one of my favorite summer films. Who can forget the summer of 1963 when Baby performed her triumphant lift, Johnny taught us about standing up for others no matter what it costs us, and we all learned that no one puts Baby in the corner. Like many resorts and other types of employers, the fictional Kellerman’s resort in the Catskills Mountains (actually filmed in North Carolina and Virginia) has a very clear peak season in the warmer months with the hiring of a lot of additional employees, including high school and college students seeking summer employment.  Of course, any time an employer hires minors, there are special considerations and it is important to be familiar with applicable federal and state law. iStock_000057051752_Full

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law governing child labor, but it must be read together with state laws (which may be more stringent and must be observed). These laws were designed to protect the educational opportunities of minors and prohibit their employment in hazardous jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health and well-being. To this end, the FLSA and state laws limit the types of jobs minors may hold as well as the hours they may work.

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Workaholics: Drug testing

April 06, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 4 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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‘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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