Taylor Swift’s in legal trouble, trouble, trouble when accusation leads to DJ’s firing

September 21, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 3 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Taylor Swift’s complaint that a DJ grabbed her derriere while a photograph was being taken before a concert has led to a federal lawsuit. The DJ claims he got a bum wrap (pun intended) and that it was actually someone else at the radio station who groped the singer. Now the DJ’s got bad blood with Swift, as well as her parents and management team who complained to his employer, and he’s suing them for tortious interference with his former $150,000 per year employment contractDon't Touch My Butt!

Taylor’s legal woes serve as a good reminder to employers that are considering making disparaging comments about a former employee or providing a negative job reference. Before you speak your mind, you should know that most states permit a claim for defamation or tortious interference (depending on the particular factual circumstances of the case) whenever someone makes disparaging remarks that adversely affect another’s employment relationship. Fortunately, however, many states have statutes that immunize employers from suit for giving negative employment references unless the employee can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the remarks were actually false.

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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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Game of Thrones: Trial by combat

August 17, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 4 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Winter is coming, but not soon enough for those of us eager for Season 6 of Game of Thrones.  While we wait, I’d like to rewind to one of my favorite episodes from Season 4 involving Tyrion’s trial for the murder of his nephew. As you may recall, Tyrion’s long-time rivalry with his sister, Cersei, comes to a head when she falsely accuses him of murdering her son. Watching the ensuing trial should make us all thankful that Trial by combatwe do not live in Westeros. Tyrion stands alone, with no legal counsel, facing a panel of judges who can hardly be considered fair or unbiased. Indeed, Tyrion’s father seems the most eager to see him dead. After enduring one misleading and/or outright lying witness after another, without the opportunities for cross-examination or to present any evidence whatsoever, Tyrion realizes he will get no justice in that trial. His solution: Demand trial by combat.

Thankfully, our own court system is much more concerned about such things as fairness and justice, so employers aren’t forced to resort to trial by combat in employment litigation. For example, our system permits the parties the opportunities for cross examination and to present written documentation and other admissible evidence at trial. In addition, there are rules of evidence to determine what is or is not admissible and to weed out unreliable evidence such as hearsay.

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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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Kinder, gentler Terminator: how to say ‘Hasta la vista’ to employees without getting sued

June 29, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Terminator Genisys, the fifth installment in the wildly popular action film series, hits theaters this week. Over the last 30 years, the original Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has transformed from a soulless assassin with no regard for others to a cyborg protector with a heart of gold (actually it’s mimetic polyalloy, but you get my point). Skull of a human size robot

When it comes to being a Terminator at your business, I hope your methods also have evolved since the 1980s. If not, here are five tips for handling employee terminations in today’s legal climate: read more…

Categories: Firing / Hollywood / Marilyn Moran

‘We fixed the glitch….’

January 26, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 1 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

I’m confident in this prediction: If you’ve ever held an office job, you will love Office Space. (If you haven’t seen it, get it now.) Anyone can find something in the movie that resonates. Maybe you connect with the guy who can’t bring himself to do more than 15 minutes of real work a week. Maybe you’re the one locked in a daily standoff with the fax machine. Maybe you’re like everyone in the movie under the thumb of a monotonous, soul-crushing boss.    Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler

I’m a Milton Waddams guy. Now that’s not to say I’m a mumbly guy with no apparent skills or role and a creepy fascination with my stapler (others will be the judge of that), but I can’t get enough of the guy. Milt was useless. When you watch the movie, you can’t figure out why the company hired him in the first place or why it keeps him on the payroll. In fact, some consultants in the movie looked into Milt and discovered that he actually had been laid off years before. No one ever told Milt he’d been downsized, and a “glitch” in the payroll system kept cutting him a paycheck. Therefore, Milt continued to wander aimlessly and mumble, and the company continued to shuffle him around the office with the furniture.

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Breaking Bad: Disciplining employees for off-duty conduct

October 06, 2014 - by: Marilyn Moran 1 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

You can hardly get through your morning coffee these days without seeing another story about some athlete, model, or actor who abused his wife, trashed her Beverly Hills hotel room, or went all shutterstock_180348752Archie Bunker in a racist Twitter rampage. Usually, high-profile celebrities are bound by employment contracts that require strict adherence to an impeccable standard of personal conduct. But what can the average employer do if Walter White, the usually quiet and docile chemist with a spotless work history, decides to break bad over the weekend, uses his RV for a meth lab, and has his mug shot splashed all over the news? Like so many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.”

Generally, under the at-will doctrine, employees can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all, as long as the reason is not illegal. Unfortunately, deciphering whether a reason is “legal” or “illegal”  is not as clear as Walter’s blue crystal. Obviously, it is illegal to discipline or terminate an employee based on the employee’s race, religion, or sex, but most off-duty conduct lies somewhere in the gray area. Until recently, most employers did not give a second thought before disciplining an employee for off-duty criminal conduct, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has loudly condemned the practice. According to the EEOC, some racial minorities are disproportionately more likely to be arrested or convicted of criminal offenses than others, so the agency is critical of employment policies that universally disadvantage applicants or employees based on past criminal conduct.  As a result, the safest bet for disciplining employees for off-duty conduct is to focus on the job-related consequences of the behavior, rather than the behavior itself.

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Ready for kickoff

September 03, 2014 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

I live in the South. This time of year, that means college football; that also means otherwise healthy friendships will erupt with enough recrimination, envy, taunts, and ill will to put the Corleones and Tattaglias to shame. Everyone crows that this is their year , we’re going to come out on top, and what-do-you-mean-that-overtime-loss-last-month-means-we-can’t-play-for-the-championship? shutterstock_165900731(Except folks like me, a Wake Forest alum, who find comfort in high-minded humility, of course.)

College football has never really found a satisfying way to crown its champion. It used to be that sportswriters picked it; then the coaches started their own poll and jumped in the mix. They tried a championship game, and then the number crunchers came out with the BCS, a computerized system that seemed to factor in everything (unless it was important, and then it was left out).  Then Colorado walloped Nebraska–and Nebraska advanced to the championship game. .

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HR sports roundup: football, futbol, and fireworks

July 02, 2014 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

As we head into the July 4 weekend, your EntertainHR sports reporters cover America’s favorite pastime–litigation!

The women who cheer football got a boost this week when the Oakland Raiders announced they would pay their Raiderettes the California minimum wage of $9 per hour beginning this coming season.  This blog first covered the story back in January when the lawsuit was filed. football, futbol, fireworksWe would not be surprised to see similar lawsuits from other cheerleading squads, particularly in California or other states with employee-friendly labor laws. The attorneys for the Raiderettes who filed the lawsuit will continue to pursue their action against the team. They seek back pay and attorneys’ fees for the alleged violations from past seasons.

The women who play football have filed a lawsuit of their own. A class of current and former players in the Lingerie Football League–now the Legends Football League–have sued the league in Los Angeles superior court for a litany of wage and hour violations based on the league’s alleged misclassification of them as independent contractors and not employees. Employee misclassification is a hot topic in employment law and has been the reason for a blitz of wage and hour class actions in recent years. The U.S. Department of Labor has devoted an entire section of its website to the topic.

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If you don’t have anything nice to say…

March 10, 2014 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Lately, have you felt feverish, light-headed, even giddy? Well then you must have Oscar fever. The stars! The gowns! The teeth! My god, those blinding white teeth! For you, March 2, 2014, was a night of luxury, glamour, and take-out noodles because NO WAY you were cooking for the family and risk missing J-Law stumble over something walking down the red carpet. Adorbs!

shutterstock_131566310

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