“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 But irrespective of Seinfeld’s purported outdated-ness (likely not a word, but you’re smart, you understand), the fashions, Jerry’s updating (dating someone much hotter than you), or the fact that it is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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Jenner, Dolezal, and the transformative debate

June 22, 2015 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

The names Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal have been inexorably intertwined over the last couple weeks by the mainstream media and social pundits, including a debate as to whether these two individuals’ circumstances should even be intertwined because they represent entirely different discussions regarding social justice and identity. Identity Crisis

As most know, Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, came out publicly as transgender and her transition has been a fairly high-profile affair. Other than negative reactions from a select faction of people, Jenner has received mainly overwhelming support. Not so for Dolezal, a former head of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP chapter when it was recently revealed she is actually Caucasian but claims to identify as black. Dolezal has received criticism from all-comers regardless of race, age, or political or social affiliation.

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Ode to Letterman: EntertainHR’s own Top 10

June 06, 2015 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

David Letterman, a late-night staple for 33 years, aired his final episode on May 20, 2015. Whether you preferred Johnny, Leno, Conan, Kimmel, or Fallon, no one can deny Letterman’s impact on pop culture, and the fact remains that he retires as the longest-serving late-night talk show host in American television history. While there were certainly some missteps along the way (the “Oprah…Uma” Academy Awards debacle undoubtedly qualifies), Letterman’s comedic and late-night chops cannot be denied. CBS Late night show entrance sign

As Letterman’s career winds down, our EntertainHR blog approaches just its one-year anniversary next month (after many years of chronicling the TV show The Office in Ford Harrison’s earlier blog “That’s What She Said”). Therefore, in homage to Letterman, and in the vein of shameless self-promotion, we contributors to EntertainHR have decided to regale our readers with a top 10 list.

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Mad Men ends: What have we learned?

May 19, 2015 - by: Josh Sudbury 1 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

The seven-season-long nonstop drink-and-smoke-a-thon that was Mad Men has come to a close. Were you entertained? Were you satisfied? Better yet, did you learn anything?800px-Mad_Men_(logo).svg I will spare you my personal thoughts on the merits of the ending as there are countless commentaries available on the Web. (Really, it’s amazing how many there are.) Suffice it to say that the “ending” appeared to bring more new beginnings than closure: Roger Sterling’s (third) marriage to Marie Calvet; Joan’s new production company; Pete Campbell’s new job at Lear Jet; Ken Cosgrove at Dow Chemical; Peggy and Stan finally admitting they loved each other (though no one makes falling in love more awkward than Peggy Olson); and, last but not least, Don/Dick Draper/Whitman with his back to the California coast dreaming of the most iconic Coca-Cola ad of the 20th Century.

From the perspective of an employment lawyer, one of the most notable developments that occurred in the last few episodes, however, was not one of the evolution (or devolution) of the individual characters, but the constant upheaval at the advertising behemoth, McCann Erickson. The second half of the final season begins with the revelation that McCann’s acquisition of Sterling Cooper was not a partnership but, rather, Jim Hobart’s mastermind plan to fold the old competitor into McCann’s ever-increasing portfolio–even at the expense of several expensive conflicts-of-interest. But, the Titanic of the ad world can’t hold on to it all. And, companies of all sizes and industries can take a few lessons.

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A Word for the EEOC from Bob Kazamakis*

May 04, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Do I look like someone who would waste my own time?

Robert California, The Office

This post takes us back to “That’s What She Said,” Ford Harrison’s earlier and excellent chronicle of The Office. After Michael Scott’s departure for marital bliss with zany HR manager Holly Flax, Dunder Mifflin floundered about in search for a new captain. For one season, that captain was Robert California, played by James Spader. California was a weirdo – a bottomless pit of self confidence, obsessed with sex, enigmatic, and prone to opaque monologues and odd rhetorical questions like the one above. United States Supreme Court

That quote popped to mind last week when I saw that the Supreme Court had decided Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC. Mach Mining began like most EEOC charges. A female applicant filed a charge with the EEOC claiming that the company, a coal miner (not the kind of business that gets much federal agency love these days, anyway) failed to hire her because she was female. The EEOC investigated and found cause regarding the claimant and a class of similarly situated female applicants. Like other cases involving a cause finding, the EEOC sent Mach a letter to inform the company of the decision and invited it to participate in the EEOC’s informal conciliation process (many of you have likely been through similar situations). So far, so good.

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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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BFOQ FTW

January 04, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

YOU are a seasoned HR pro.  YOU understand the difference between Internet slang–omg, imho, lmao–and the Title VII defense of BFOQ.  We must discuss the BFOQ exception–bona fide occupational qualification–in the wake of the Abu Dhabi adventures of actress, singer, and ex-Biebs girl Selena Gomez.  ICYMI (see what I did there?), a picture surfaced of Gomez in a mosque taken while she and some pals were vacationing in Abu Dhabi. In the photo, Gomez clearly flashes her (NSFW alert) … ankle. shutterstock_194149595

Context is important. Gomez was a female in a mosque in the United Arab Emirates. Mosque rules prohibit “intimate behavior,” including a female’s failure to wear ankle-length garments. Could a U.S. employer refuse to hire or employ a female because it did business in Arab countries with decisionmakers who were devout Muslims?

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