What #OscarsSoWhite teaches us about disparate impact

January 25, 2016 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

I have to admit that I’m just not a big fan of awards shows, and that includes the Academy Awards. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies. But I find awards shows dull and way, way too long. If something extremely funny happens, or someone makes an incredibly touching or socially impactful speech, I can frankly watch it the next morning on the Internet.  OscarSoWhite

Yet, despite my lack of interest in awards shows, it’s hard to ignore the controversy surrounding the most recent Academy Award nominations announced a couple weeks ago. For the second year in a row, all 20 contenders in the acting categories are Caucasian. Last year, this resulted in the trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which not surprisingly has been resurrected again this year. There was of course immediate backlash to the nominations. Numerous individualsboth white and of colordecried the lack of diversity in not only the nominations, but in the industry itself. Certain celebrities made public their intention to boycott the awards. It has become somewhat of a social media frenzy as everyone has chimed in with their opinion.

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Age, sex, and sports media

December 21, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Sports reporter Colleen Dominguez is 54 years old and has enjoyed a successful career in sports journalism including a lengthy stint at ESPN. Dominguez recently jumped to Fox Sports 1 and believes her age and gender are the only plausible reasons that FS1 has cut her broadcasting assignments and diminished her career. These are her allegations in a lawsuit filed recently in a California federal court. The complaint tells the story of a veteran, experienced reporter who has paid her dues but is being pushed aside by the men and the new pretty girl on the block. Can a media company make decisions based on the age and gender of its on-air talent?a young woman journalist with a microphone and a cameraman

This is not the first time this has come up in the TV and entertainment industry. In 1993 a Minnesota jury awarded 53-year-old sportscaster Tom Ryther $1.2 million in an age discrimination case. Ryther, a longtime fixture on TV news, was not renewed after his network commissioned a poll that showed he wasn’t having a “positive” effect on viewership. According to Ryther, at the time of his termination, the station manager asked him how it felt to be a failure at age 53.  No doubt that played well with the jury.

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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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Alcoholism and how USC may have violated ADA by firing Steve Sarkisian

October 19, 2015 - by: David Kim 8 COMMENTS
David Kim

On October 12, 2015, Steve Sarkisian was fired as  head coach of the University of Southern California (USC) football team. While USC contends Sarkisian was fired for “cause,” there is no question that his alcohol-related behavior led to his termination. Whether the termination was or was not properly for “cause” is relevant, in part, because it would likely determine whether USC would have to pay the remaining three years of his five-year contract. Whether the termination was lawful under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or analogous state law statutes alcoholismprohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, is another question. And due to the high public profiles of the institution and the individual involved, this may be a question that is never entirely answered.

Back in August, video emerged of a clearly intoxicated Sarkisian at a USC pep rally, slurring during his speech and using profanity. The coach publicly apologized, contending that his behavior was the result of mixing alcohol and certain undisclosed medication. While Sarkisian denied having a drinking problem, he contended he would go to “treatment” to seek help. It appears Sarkisian neither sought help nor ceased his alcohol consumption. Reports last week emerged from sources that the coach “showed up lit to meetings again” and was told to leave the premises on Sunday. That same day, it was announced by USC Athletic Director Pat Haden that Sarkisian was asked and had agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence for his condition. On the next day, he was officially fired.

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#damonsplaining — Matt Damon can do it, but you can’t

October 05, 2015 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

Actor Matt Damon sure has had an up and down past few weeks. First, Damon made some questionable comments on HBO’s Project Greenlight, a documentary developed by DSorryamon himself (along with some famous friends including buddy Ben Affleck) focusing on first-time filmmakers being given the chance to direct a feature film. When African-American producer Effie Brown asked the judges to use caution in selecting a directing team for a film project under consideration, pointing out that the only black person on screen was a “hooker who gets hit by her white pimp,” Damon stated that in “talking about diversity” it should be done in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show [i.e., film-making team].” Damon later stated that this was a film-making competition and the job should be attained “entirely upon merit” and not other factors.

Later, in an interview with Observer Magazine to promote his new film The Martian, Damon stated his belief that one is a better actor the less people know about you, and that “sexuality is a huge part of that.” Damon further noted “it’s tough to make the argument that” Rupert Everett, an openly gay actor, “didn’t take a hit for being out” despite being a handsome and classically trained actor.

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Employment is short. Don’t have an affair.

September 08, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Imagine a guy, a married guy, more specifically an unhappily married guy, and even more specifically an unhappily married guy lacking a moral compass. The guy creates a discrete (ha!) profile on AshleyMadison.com, a dating website for married people whose tagline is “Life is Short. Have an Affair.” No need to prowl hotel bars at last call. Thanks to Ashley Madison, our guy can arrange an illicit rendezvous from the privacy of his laptop. shhhhh

Or not.

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Human Resources lessons from NFL preseason football: employees returning to work after cancer treatment

August 24, 2015 - by: Josh Sudbury 1 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

For fans of Southeastern Conference football (and, I mean, who isn’t, right?), the name “Eric Berry” is one you don’t easily forget. Berry made his presence known as a defensive back for the Tennessee Volunteers from 2007-2009. Even though he played only three seasons in college, he was twice named a Defensive All American by unanimous vote. Berry was drafted in 2010 by the Kansas City Chiefs and was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He suffered a torn ACL in 2011 but returned the following year and earned another Pro Bowl selection in 2012 and again in 2013. Quite simplywater covers 71 percent of the Earth, Eric Berry covers the rest.  Back At Work

Berry’s career took a surprising and unfortunate turn in 2014, however, after he complained of chest pain during a game against the Oakland Raiders. He was soon diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ending his season, and threatening his life. Thankfully, after several months of chemotherapy treatment at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Berry is now cancer free. In June of this year, doctors cleared Berry to return to football activities. So far, he has played in both of the Chief’s preseason games.

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“It’s not me, it’s you!” Seinfeld lessons on candid employee evaluations

July 27, 2015 - by: Ed Carlstedt 0 COMMENTS
Ed Carlstedt

I confess, I’m a Seinfeld junkie. I’ve watched every episode multiple times and literally love every single oneeven the finale (I know, I know, I’m in the vast minority, but I’m committed, you could at least give me that). To this day, I watch Seinfeld’s re-runs over and over again, which I’m sure makes me cute in a geeky, boy-next-door kind of way, at least that’s what I tell myself. My wife just rolls her eyes and continues Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming, Pinteresting, Ashley Madisoning (actual users note recent security breach and structure assets accordingly), or whatever other social networking it is she does during my near daily half hour of “Ed time.” But irrespective of Seinfeld’s purported outdated-ness (likely not a word, but you’re smart, you understand), the fashions, Jerry’s updating (dating someone much hotter than you), or the fact that it is primarily intended for comedic purposes, employers can glean valuable lessons from Seinfeld if they watch closely.  Performance Evaluation

In Seinfeld episode number 140 (“The Fatigues”), Elaine, serving as interim company president while her boss is in Burma, is all set to can an employee for poor performance. Prior to meeting the employee, Elaine seems almost giddy to figuratively drop the guillotine on the unsuspecting employee. But once Elaine confronts the employee in person, Elaine can’t bring herself to do the deed, likely due to the fact that the employee is wearing fatigues, looks deranged, and has a spooky, guttural voice. Rather than deliver the news, Elaine promotes the employee from a mailroom position to a copywriter position.

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Donald Trump will win (a Title VII lawsuit)

July 20, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

This is an entertainment-centered blog and therefore as good a place as any to discuss Donald Trump. By now you are surely aware of the nuanced approach Trump took toward U.S.-Mexico immigration policy in his presidential bid announcementDonald Trump

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

If you are of Mexican national origin, that stings. If you are of Mexican national origin and are employed at Trump Plaza, or at the Trump Taj Mahal, or work on the Miss USA Pageant broadcast, you may be asking yourself whether Trump’s remarks could give rise to a discrimination or harassment lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. read more…

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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