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.

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Sorry, J-Lo and CeeLo: Real world requires carefully crafted employment dress codes

February 14, 2017 - by: Angela Cummings 0 COMMENTS
Angela Cummings

The Grammys aired on Sunday, February 12, 2017. Every year, audiences tune in to the glamorous awards show to watch the presentation of such celebrated accolades as “Song of the Year” and to take in the live performances of their favorite musicians. I, however, plant myself in front of the television for one reason onlyto scrutinize the often outrageous outfits worn by the music industry moguls and Hollywood insiders. Can you believe that it has been almost 20 years since Jennifer Lopez walked the red carpet in the green dress that was slashed all the way down to her pelvis? Such eye-popping outfits and costumes continue to dominate the show.  Casual and formal look

In my opinion, this year’s award for most intriguing Grammy look went to CeeLo Green, who dressed in gold from head to toe and donned some sort of gilded hairpiece that commentators appropriately compared to a piece of Ferrero Rocher candy. A-list celebrities have the freedom to express themselves with bold clothing wherever they go, of course, including to “work events” such as the Grammy Awards. However, for everyday employees, that is not the case.

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Peter Dinklage takes on Elf

December 05, 2016 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

It’s December, which means that those of us holiday fanatics can decorate and watch Christmas movies to our hearts’ content without shame.  Of course, I won’t tell anyone if you already had your tree up in November (like me) or if you never took it down from last year.  One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf, starring Will Ferrell.  It is surprisingly packed with various employment law issues, such as employee substance abuse at work, sexual harassment, and workplace violence.  In one of the more memorable scenes, Peter Dinklage’s character, Miles Finch, demonstrates how good intentions can still lead to a harassment complaint.  Facepalm, retro disappointed man slapping forehead, d'oh!

As background, Will Ferrell’s character, Buddy, has been raised as one of Santa’s elves and only recently learned that he is actually human. He has tracked down his biological father, who works for a children’s book publisher in New York City. Unaccustomed to the human world and innocent to its realities, Buddy has difficulty adjusting to life in the Big Apple and working in his father’s office.

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NASCAR’s racing to defend race discrimination lawsuit—is your company ready?

September 26, 2016 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Earlier this week, news broke that NASCAR is being sued for alleged racial discrimination. NASCAR insists the case has no merit, but only time will tell the outcome. When the rubber meets the road, will your business be ready to defend against a race discrimination lawsuit? Fortunately, there are steps every business can take to protect itself.  Fans Fly NASCAR Flags While Camping Outside Race Track

Policies and Training

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Hope Solo: too little, too late?

August 26, 2016 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 4 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Hope Solo’s derogatory comments about Sweden’s national women’s soccer team have earned her a six-month ban from U.S. Soccer and the termination of her contract. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati released a statement this week saying, “The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our national team players.”  However, many are questioning whether Solo’s punishment for calling Swedish players “cowards” is too little and too late.

Despite her World Cup title, two Olympic gold medals, 202 national team appearances, and 102 clean sheets, Solo has long been a loose cannon with her outrageous behavior overshadowing her performance as a player.  As examples:Women soccer team ticker parade read more…

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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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…

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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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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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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