Halloween at work: Don’t get BOOed by your employees!

October 30, 2017 - by: Angela Cummings 0 COMMENTS
Angela Cummings

Halloween can be such a fun holiday for kids of all ages. When October 31st falls on a weekday, as it does this year, ghoulish fun will certainly creep its way into the workplace. How can you, as a human resources professional, ensure that the day is more fun than it is scary? Simple. Just follow a few rules.Halloween theme 3

1: Make any Halloween office festivities totally voluntary

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Methinks thou doth protest too much! FYI, only ‘reasonable’ opposition is protected

October 24, 2017 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

It seems that every day the news is full of stories about employees (whether they are NFL players or Hollywood starlets) protesting unfair treatment. Usually, when an employee complains about discrimination, harassment, equal pay, or other work-related topics, he or she is protected from discipline or termination because the conduct is considered “protected activity” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a myriad of other federal and state employment laws.  Hand holding protest sign

Under limited circumstances, however, an employee’s protests may cross the line from protected opposition to unprotected disruption. Specifically, an employee who engages in loud, unreasonable, and disruptive protests at work, even though the action is borne out of an attempt to protest alleged unfair treatment or discrimination, isn’t protected by Title VII. Rather, only reasonable opposition and reasonable protests are considered protected activity. read more…

Harvey Weinstein: beauty and the beastly mogul

October 12, 2017 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Over the last week, the fallout from a New York Times article regarding Harvey Weinstein has been swift and significant. On October 5, the Times published an explosive story about Hollywood producer and media mogul Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment spanning decades. More and more women have been coming forward since the story broke to accuse Weinstein of unwelcome sexual advances and sexual assault during his time at Miramax and the Weinstein Company. The Times quoted Weinstein as stating, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know that I have a long way to go.”  Stop Sexual Harassment red stop sign held by a female

According to the Times, Weinstein has reached settlements with at least eight women over the years, and his former attorney, Lisa Bloom, has described him as “an old dinosaur learning new ways.” The growing list of allegations stands in stark contrast against Weinstein’s public image as a liberal, humanitarian, and champion of women. The Times quoted Ashley Judd as saying, “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”

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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.

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Standing ovation for Adam Jones at Fenway

Kristin Starnes Gray

Last Monday, the Orioles made headlines for more than just their 5-2 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.  Orioles player Adam Jones reported that Red Sox fans called him a racial slur several times and threw a bag of peanuts at him as he was entering the dugout. Police reportedly ejected 34 people, including the person who threw the bag of peanuts. The Red Sox, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred all condemned the fans’ behavior.  Fenway park at sunset

The following day, fans welcomed Jones with a standing ovation at Fenway Park before his first at-bat. Despite recent hostility that has arisen between the two teams after Manny Machado injured Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox starter Chris Sale stepped off the mound on Tuesday to allow more time for Jones’ ovation. In addition, Jones thanked two Boston players, Mookie Betts and David Price, for their supportive text messages. African-American players for other teams also have come forward about their experiences with being called racial slurs by fans during games.

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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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Baseball purists

December 13, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

-H.L. Mencken

This post may not be the usual finger-wagging scold you may have come to expect from an employment lawyer. I’m confident, though, that this blog’s audience of fellow practitioners and human resource professionals will take a little solace in it. After all, it’s no fun to be a killjoy and we are thrust into that role more often than we’d like.  Young male baseball referee blowing a whistle

Why? Because potential liability under the employment laws too often compels us to manage to the lowest common denominator.

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Mila Kunis’ open letter on gender bias at work

November 29, 2016 - by: Katie O'Shea 0 COMMENTS
Katie O'Shea

Many people know actor Mila Kunis for her role in the TV series “That ’70s Show” and her film roles in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the drama Black Swan. Kunis has recently been in the headlines for her open letter on sexism in Hollywood and the workplace entitled, “You’ll Never Work in This Town Again…” originally posted here.Accusation. Sad woman looking down fingers pointing at her

In the letter, Kunis discusses some of her personal experiences, including being told by a producer that she would never work in Hollywood again after she refused to pose semi-naked on the cover of a men’s magazine to promote a film. Kunis explained that she felt objectified and that the threat that her career would suffer because of her refusal embodied the fear that many women face with gender bias in the workplace. She explained her view about how many women feel–that if they speak up against gender bias, their livelihoods will be threatened. Because of her career success and financial ability, Kunis explained she is fortunate to be in a position where she can stand up against gender bias and bring it to light when she experiences it, but recognized that many women may not be able to do so.

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#Fired: Post a tweet, lose your job

August 23, 2016 - by: Katie O'Shea 0 COMMENTS
Katie O'Shea

Many people enjoy spouting off what they view as 140-character tidbits of wisdom on the social media platform Twitter. But recently several individuals have found themselves in trouble with their employers (read: former employers) for their tweets or other social media posts.  Tweet

One recent example was a loan officer from Michigan who crafted a racist tweet, not worth repeating here, following First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. Twitter users saw the tweet and tracked down the home loan company the woman worked for. The result was a flood of tweets directed to the company’s Twitter profile calling their attention to the tweet and asking if the employee’s views represented the company’s values.

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