Chris Rock’s #OscarsSoWhite monologue: Don’t try this at work

February 29, 2016 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

The glitz, glamour, and celebratory nature of last night’s Academy Awards were dimmed by the ongoing controversy about the total lack of racial diversity among Oscar contenders for the last two years. In response, Chris Rock delivered a scathing monologue criticizing the Gold OscarAcademy and its members, the large majority of whom are white and male. As the audience laughed and squirmed in their seats, Rock repeatedly hammered the Hollywood establishment, using humor as a platform to express the collective outrage of the #OscarsSoWhite protest movement.

Of course, exploiting sensitive subjects like race, religion, gender, and age are all in a day’s work for professional comedians like Rock. They enjoy the unfettered privilege of offending the hell out of absolutely everyone so long as it gets a laugh. For the rest of us, however, such divisive humor (even when it is targeted at white males) has no place at work and should be avoided at all costs.

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The Intern: delightful movie—risky employment practice

January 12, 2016 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Well, the Golden Globes were Sunday night and all of Hollywood tuned it to celebrate the best of film and television. One movie that was noticeably absent from the nominations (at least in my opinion) was The Intern, a heartwarming film starring Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway, that tells the story of a lovable retiree who interns at an e-commerce fashion company when its CEO agrees to participate in a community outreach program that places senior citizens in internships. Although the movie highlights the benefit of internships (both for the intern and the company), in recent years the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken a dim view of companies that use unpaid interns to augment their workforce.  Internship

Approximately half a million Americans hold unpaid internships every year, with about 40 percent of those working in the private sector for for-profit companies. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the DOL (and courts) consider six criteria for determining whether an internship can be unpaid: read more…

Coworkers Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani are dating! What could possibly go wrong?

November 09, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 2 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Last week, the Internet was abuzz with the news that Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, who work together as judges on The Voice, have begun dating. Workplace relationships, though fraught with hazard for HR professionals, are incredibly common, with 80 percent of employees reporting that they have been involved in, or have heard of, coworkers dating at their place of business. Of course, employee hookups can be distracting to their coworkers and cause a lot of talk around the proverbial watercooler.  More important to HR, the end of workplace relationships can result in sexual harassment claims if one party to the relationship decides to break things off while the jilted employee continues to express romantic feelings or lashes out in anger toward the ex.  Get Your Flirt On (or Not)

To avoid this drama, some employers enact anti-fraternization policies to prevent employees from dating one another altogether, while others adopt dating policies to ensure that cubicle-crossed lovers leave the PDA at home and remain professional and productive at work. The large majority of employers, however, recognize and accept that their employees may want to date one another, and simply rely on their sexual harassment policies to govern the parameters of employee relationships.

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Taylor Swift’s in legal trouble, trouble, trouble when accusation leads to DJ’s firing

September 21, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 3 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Taylor Swift’s complaint that a DJ grabbed her derriere while a photograph was being taken before a concert has led to a federal lawsuit. The DJ claims he got a bum wrap (pun intended) and that it was actually someone else at the radio station who groped the singer. Now the DJ’s got bad blood with Swift, as well as her parents and management team who complained to his employer, and he’s suing them for tortious interference with his former $150,000 per year employment contractDon't Touch My Butt!

Taylor’s legal woes serve as a good reminder to employers that are considering making disparaging comments about a former employee or providing a negative job reference. Before you speak your mind, you should know that most states permit a claim for defamation or tortious interference (depending on the particular factual circumstances of the case) whenever someone makes disparaging remarks that adversely affect another’s employment relationship. Fortunately, however, many states have statutes that immunize employers from suit for giving negative employment references unless the employee can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the remarks were actually false.

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Deflategate: Tom Brady’s fumble provides valuable lesson about spoliation of evidence

August 03, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, but he fumbled big time when he ordered the destruction of his cell phone before he was to be questioned about his involvement in the deflation of footballs during last season’s AFC championship game. Importantly, prior to the phone’s destruction, NFL investigators had asked Brady for text messages and other electronic information stored on his phone. Although he continues to deny any wrongdoing, the NFL upheld his four-game suspension, concluding that his destruction of the cell phone proved he wanted to hide incriminating evidence of his involvement in the scandal.  Spoilation of Evidence tsk tsk Tom Brady

Destruction of evidenceoften referred to as “spoliation of evidence”refers to the destruction of documents, information, or other tangible items that are potentially relevant to a claim before the other side has had an opportunity to review the evidence. Spoliation of evidence can have dire consequences for offenders. As a result, employers should know the when, what, why, and how of preserving evidence to avoid liability and ensure a fair playing field.

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Kinder, gentler Terminator: how to say ‘Hasta la vista’ to employees without getting sued

June 29, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Terminator Genisys, the fifth installment in the wildly popular action film series, hits theaters this week. Over the last 30 years, the original Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has transformed from a soulless assassin with no regard for others to a cyborg protector with a heart of gold (actually it’s mimetic polyalloy, but you get my point). Skull of a human size robot

When it comes to being a Terminator at your business, I hope your methods also have evolved since the 1980s. If not, here are five tips for handling employee terminations in today’s legal climate: read more…

Categories: Firing / Hollywood / Marilyn Moran

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

March 09, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 7 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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And the Oscar goes to … tips for evaluating employee performance outside of Tinsel Town

January 20, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 1 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Awards season is upon us and soon all of Hollywood will gather to celebrate its most talented actors and actresses, as determined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Who will win the Oscar? shutterstock_236123857

While this question is being volleyed about and fiercely debated among Internet pundits and armchair critics, the nominees themselves wait anxiously, knowing that receiving the coveted Academy Award would most likely translate into significant and tangible benefits for them in the form of professional prestige, better opportunities, and increased compensation. Adding to the suspense is the fact that the decision about who will receive an Oscar is left entirely to the arbitrary whims and subjective interpretations of the Academy’s members, with only the representations of a couple of accountants donned in Armani tuxedos to authenticate the legitimacy of the process.

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Breaking Bad: Disciplining employees for off-duty conduct

October 06, 2014 - by: Marilyn Moran 1 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

You can hardly get through your morning coffee these days without seeing another story about some athlete, model, or actor who abused his wife, trashed her Beverly Hills hotel room, or went all shutterstock_180348752Archie Bunker in a racist Twitter rampage. Usually, high-profile celebrities are bound by employment contracts that require strict adherence to an impeccable standard of personal conduct. But what can the average employer do if Walter White, the usually quiet and docile chemist with a spotless work history, decides to break bad over the weekend, uses his RV for a meth lab, and has his mug shot splashed all over the news? Like so many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.”

Generally, under the at-will doctrine, employees can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all, as long as the reason is not illegal. Unfortunately, deciphering whether a reason is “legal” or “illegal”  is not as clear as Walter’s blue crystal. Obviously, it is illegal to discipline or terminate an employee based on the employee’s race, religion, or sex, but most off-duty conduct lies somewhere in the gray area. Until recently, most employers did not give a second thought before disciplining an employee for off-duty criminal conduct, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has loudly condemned the practice. According to the EEOC, some racial minorities are disproportionately more likely to be arrested or convicted of criminal offenses than others, so the agency is critical of employment policies that universally disadvantage applicants or employees based on past criminal conduct.  As a result, the safest bet for disciplining employees for off-duty conduct is to focus on the job-related consequences of the behavior, rather than the behavior itself.

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