New media rating seeks to bring common sense to gender stereotyping

July 10, 2017 - by: Robin Kallor 0 COMMENTS
Robin Kallor

When my son was five and constantly arguing and negotiating for extra dessert or whatever it was that he wanted at any given time, people would often say, “You should be a lawyer!” His response was always: “I don’t want to be a lawyer because that’s a girl’s job.” While slightly humorous because lawyers are not stereotypically female, I would always respond that there was no such thing as girls’ jobs or boys’ jobs. Because I was a lawyer, he saw the world through that prism. Despite what kids see in real life–that the world is filled with men and women who do not conform to stereotypes in their careers and in division of labor at home–according to studies by Common Sense Media, movies and television have not kept up with the times; and undoubtedly, media play a huge role in how we all view the world–not just how kids do.  Gender Equality

Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization that runs a website providing parents and teachers with advice on media and technology for kids. It publishes independent ratings and reviews for nearly everything kids want to watch, read, play, and learn. Common Sense Media is based on the premise that images kids see early in life can have a significant long-term effect on their perception of the world. While much attention has historically been focused on the impact of violent movies, video games, and other media, one of the less discussed areas is on-screen depiction of gender.

read more…

Will and Grace reunited

March 20, 2017 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Ever since the cast of Will and Grace reunited for a mini episode encouraging all of us to vote in 2016, the Internet has been in a frenzy about the possibility of a revival 18 years after the show first aired. In January, the news broke that NBC has ordered a 10-episode limited revival series reuniting the original stars. The show is known for making us laugh while breaking significant ground during its eight-season run in terms of LGBT representation on TV.  LGBT grungy heart

The news of a revival comes in the midst of uncertainty about whether sexual orientation is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has repeatedly taken the position that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation qualifies as sex discrimination “because it necessarily entails treating an employee less favorable because of the employee’s sex.”  The 11th Circuit, however, recently upheld a district court’s dismissal of a complaint alleging harassment based on sexual orientation under Title VII.

read more…

The Boss, your boss, and LGBT rights

April 12, 2016 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

North Carolina got itself a bit of attention recently when it enacted House Bill 2, which mandates that public restrooms be limited for use based on the individual’s “biological sex.” The effect of this bill was to take away from transgender citizens their ability to choose, based on their individual gender identities, which restroom they will use. There was some fairly prompt backlash. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a Greensboro concert in protest. The NBA is considering relocating its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.  Fist hand with rainbow flag patterned isolate on white

Relevant to the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been pursuing LGBT cases since long before the Boss or the Association ever heard of HB2. The EEOC’s position is that it “interprets and enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964′s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. These protections apply regardless of any contrary state or local laws.” While Title VII does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the EEOC says that it will pursue adverse employment decisions that are the result of “gender stereotyping.” Consider these actions brought by EEOC: read more…

#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.

read more…

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.

read more…

Distraction or discrimination?

July 29, 2014 - by: David Kim 4 COMMENTS
David Kim

Of all the people associated with the National Football League, it was Tony Dungy who got himself in some hot water with comments he made over the last couple weeks. It was the same Tony Dungy who is looked upon as thoughtful and mild-mannered and whose persona, during his tenure as an NFL head coach and now as a TV analyst, evokes a sense of calm and reasonableness (at least to the general public) amidst the brash and in-your-face personalities that dominate the 24-hour news cycle when it comes to the NFL.shutterstock_179715650

Dungy’s appeal and reputation are some of the reasons why he hasn’t been pressed by the media or the public on statements he has made in the past. Remember in 2007 when then-Indianapolis Colts Coach Dungy publicly supported the Indiana Family Institute in seeking to make gay marriage illegal in the state? Probably not. How about 2010 when he publicly criticized New York Jets coach Rex Ryan for his expletive-laced vocabulary on the HBO series Hard Knocks, and stated the commissioner should consider calling Ryan to discuss how Ryan is “representing” the NFL? Maybe, but you probably just thought that yeah, Ryan sure does curse a lot. I’m not saying Dungy deserved criticism by any means, just pointing out that he received very little whereas other public personalities likely would have had a lot more questions to answer, warranted or not.

read more…

Punter’s legal claims may be blocked

January 10, 2014 - by: Andy Tanick 3 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

When they asked me to join the rotation of writers for Ford Harrison’s EntertainHR blog, I was a little nervous. After all, while we Minnesotans make headlines for things like our weather (the high temperature here last Monday was 13 degrees below zero) and electing professional wrestlers to high political office, we haven’t had a juicy HR story up here since Lou Grant paid Mary Richards less than her male colleague Murray because she didn’t have a family to support. And that was fictional. Then it happened, just as my deadline was fast approaching: the Deadspin.com headline, dateline Minneapolis. “I was an NFL Player until I Was Fired by Two Cowards and a Bigot.” Thank you, Chris Kluwe.  As both an employment law attorney and the newly crowned champion of my fantasy football league, I might just be qualified to write about this. For those who haven’t heard, Kluwe was the Minnesota Vikings’ punter for eight years, until the team released him in May 2013. In the fall of 2012, Kluwe had become a media sensation due to his outspoken opposition to a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would have defined marriage as “only a union of one man and one woman.” Many observers gave Kluwe part of the credit for the eventual defeat of that proposed constitutional amendment, which would have prevented the Minnesota legislature from legalizing same-sex marriage. Just a few months later, the legislature–encouraged by the defeat of the proposed constitutional amendment–did just that.football Now, Kluwe claims the Vikings “fired” him because of the allegedly homophobic views of his Special Teams Coach (the “bigot”) and the alleged failure of his Head Coach and General Manager (the “two cowards”) to stand up to those views. To nobody’s surprise, he has also announced that he’s hired a lawyer. And pundits, fans, and observers everywhere are asking the same question: “Is Kluwe going to sue the Vikings?” While at first glance it certainly seems like Kluwe’s claims, if proven, would support some claim under federal or state law, it’s actually not all that clear. Let’s take a look at the most likely legal theories. Discrimination? Not really. Kluwe doesn’t claim that the Vikings cut him because he belongs to any protected class. He doesn’t profess to be gay himself–indeed, he has stated that he is not, and his wife would likely corroborate that. A more likely legal theory would be retaliation. State and federal discrimination laws prohibit employers from taking adverse action against an employee because the employee engaged in “protected activity.” Protected activity in this context means either opposing a practice believed to violate those same discrimination laws, or participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Kluwe never did the latter, so he would have to prove the former: that the Vikings released him because he opposed a practice prohibited under state or federal discrimination laws. As Kluwe describes it himself, however, the Vikings replaced him because he supported marriage equality, not because he opposed anything prohibited by anti-discrimination laws. Certainly, by supporting same-sex marriage, Kluwe was implicitly opposing the state law that, at the time, banned such unions. But opposing an existing law that some believe to be discriminatory isn’t really the same as opposing a practice or act that is specifically forbidden by civil rights laws, e.g., employment discrimination, sexual harassment, failing to accommodate a disabled employee, etc. What about Kluwe’s right to free speech, you may ask. The Vikings couldn’t fire the man just for speaking his mind on a highly charged political issue, could they? Well, actually, yes, they could.  Despite what TV and radio pundits might think, the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech doesn’t apply to private employers such as a football team. While the law protects some types of speech, such as organizing a union, most speech by private employees is not protected. Indeed, exercising their nonexistent right to “free speech” has been the downfall of many employees. Chris Kluwe, of course, was not a typical “at will” employee; as an NFL player, he belonged to a union, and it’s possible (albeit unlikely) that his union’s collective bargaining agreement protects players from being released due to their political statements. But even if that were the case, Kluwe would probably have to pursue his claim initially through a union grievance, not a lawsuit. Plaintiff’s employment lawyers, of course, are nothing if not creative, and win or lose, Kluwe’s case would provide his lawyer with a lot of irresistible free publicity. And many people would find it objectionable if the Vikings really did let Kluwe go because of his political views. But being a victim of an unfair employment practice, no matter how troubling, doesn’t necessarily translate into having an actionable legal claim. So while Chris Kluwe’s situation may have saved this new blogger from having to write about Minnesota weather for the time being, when it comes to legal action, Kluwe may be forced to … punt.