eTeam: Finding the leader to take you from idea to profit

August 10, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Books are supposed to be my bailiwick here at the blog and after several posts on anything but, I figure it’s time to return to that groove. This week I want to focus on new businesses, or “startups,” if you prefer.  eBoys

If you’re starting a business and have grand plans for future growth, you really need to check out Randall Stross’s eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work. eBoys has a bit of age on it at this pointit was first published in 2000 and came out soon before the dot-com bubble burst early that decade, and so you could criticize it as out-of-date and out of context. I don’t subscribe to that view.

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Headline news: Policies, procedures essential tools in fight against sexual harassment

July 12, 2016 - by: Ed Carlstedt 0 COMMENTS
Ed Carlstedt

Last week, former Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson slapped Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes with a wrongful termination and sexual harassment lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that Ailes made “sexually charged comments” to Carlson, including comments about her body and requests for what could be considered quid pro quo sex. According to the allegations, Ailes stated that Carlson and he “should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago . . . .”  Sexual harassment in the office

Carlson’s complaint also attributes numerous other sexually charged statements to Ailes, including comments about her legs and posterior and requests that she wear certain clothes to enhance her figure. Carlson claims that, following her rejection of Ailes’ advances, her contract with Fox News was terminated. Ailes claims that Carlson’s allegations are false and that her contract was terminated due to her television show’s poor ratings.

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ABC, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, and lessons on parting ways with key employees

May 17, 2016 - by: Josh Sudbury 6 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

What Kelly Ripa lacks in size, she makes up for in attitude. At just 5’3″, the petit daytime talk show star measures but a fraction of the size of her former co-host, Michael Strahan, himself a former New York Giants defensive end and Super Bowl champion. But Ripa’s actions since news broke of Strahan’s planned departure from Live! for a permanent slot on ABC’s Good Morning America show the pint-size starlet is anything but meek. key room

Strahan, in classic defensive end style, reportedly blindsided Ripa and the Live‘s producers with news of his move shortly after the show on April 19. Ripa, who was reportedly shocked and furious with the announcement and its delivery, was conspicuously absent from the show the following few days, allegedly celebrating her and her husband’s wedding anniversary. Despite Ripa’s being all smiles when she returned to the show, guests commented that interactions between her and Strahan were noticeably tense. On air, Ripa also got in some passive aggressive digs at her soon-to-be ex-co-host, making it clear to the viewing public Strahan wasn’t the only one skilled in the art of the sneak attack.

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What #OscarsSoWhite teaches us about disparate impact

January 25, 2016 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

I have to admit that I’m just not a big fan of awards shows, and that includes the Academy Awards. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies. But I find awards shows dull and way, way too long. If something extremely funny happens, or someone makes an incredibly touching or socially impactful speech, I can frankly watch it the next morning on the Internet.  OscarSoWhite

Yet, despite my lack of interest in awards shows, it’s hard to ignore the controversy surrounding the most recent Academy Award nominations announced a couple weeks ago. For the second year in a row, all 20 contenders in the acting categories are Caucasian. Last year, this resulted in the trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which not surprisingly has been resurrected again this year. There was of course immediate backlash to the nominations. Numerous individualsboth white and of colordecried the lack of diversity in not only the nominations, but in the industry itself. Certain celebrities made public their intention to boycott the awards. It has become somewhat of a social media frenzy as everyone has chimed in with their opinion.

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Keeping it real: litigation insights from ‘Making a Murderer’

January 20, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

It’s mid-January, and I’m sitting in my office writing this post while snow falls outside. (Yes, we get snow in South Carolina and, yes, it terrifies us.) The snow, however, reminds me of the frozen northern Wisconsin landscapes featured in my latest binge-watching favorite, Netflix’s Making a MurdererA peek inside the courtroom

If you’ve not seen it yet, Making a Murderer is a fascinating serial documentary about the murder trial of Steve Avery. Mr. Avery swears by his innocence and defends the murder charge by claiming that the local sheriff’s office framed him. DNA evidence had exonerated Avery of a prior rape conviction (or at least raised sufficient doubt to require his release from prison). He sued the county for his earlier conviction, and soon after key depositions were taken in his lawsuit, a young woman went missing. Key evidence was found near Avery’s home (including charred remains of the missing woman), and he was arrested. He claimed someone set him up and that the police overlooked evidence of his innocence.

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Alcoholism and how USC may have violated ADA by firing Steve Sarkisian

October 19, 2015 - by: David Kim 8 COMMENTS
David Kim

On October 12, 2015, Steve Sarkisian was fired as  head coach of the University of Southern California (USC) football team. While USC contends Sarkisian was fired for “cause,” there is no question that his alcohol-related behavior led to his termination. Whether the termination was or was not properly for “cause” is relevant, in part, because it would likely determine whether USC would have to pay the remaining three years of his five-year contract. Whether the termination was lawful under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or analogous state law statutes alcoholismprohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, is another question. And due to the high public profiles of the institution and the individual involved, this may be a question that is never entirely answered.

Back in August, video emerged of a clearly intoxicated Sarkisian at a USC pep rally, slurring during his speech and using profanity. The coach publicly apologized, contending that his behavior was the result of mixing alcohol and certain undisclosed medication. While Sarkisian denied having a drinking problem, he contended he would go to “treatment” to seek help. It appears Sarkisian neither sought help nor ceased his alcohol consumption. Reports last week emerged from sources that the coach “showed up lit to meetings again” and was told to leave the premises on Sunday. That same day, it was announced by USC Athletic Director Pat Haden that Sarkisian was asked and had agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence for his condition. On the next day, he was officially fired.

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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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Deflategate: Tom Brady’s fumble provides valuable lesson about spoliation of evidence

August 03, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 0 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, but he fumbled big time when he ordered the destruction of his cell phone before he was to be questioned about his involvement in the deflation of footballs during last season’s AFC championship game. Importantly, prior to the phone’s destruction, NFL investigators had asked Brady for text messages and other electronic information stored on his phone. Although he continues to deny any wrongdoing, the NFL upheld his four-game suspension, concluding that his destruction of the cell phone proved he wanted to hide incriminating evidence of his involvement in the scandal.  Spoilation of Evidence tsk tsk Tom Brady

Destruction of evidenceoften referred to as “spoliation of evidence”refers to the destruction of documents, information, or other tangible items that are potentially relevant to a claim before the other side has had an opportunity to review the evidence. Spoliation of evidence can have dire consequences for offenders. As a result, employers should know the when, what, why, and how of preserving evidence to avoid liability and ensure a fair playing field.

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Fire Harry Crane

April 16, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Mad Men can be tough to watch for an employment lawyer. I was thinking of this while watching the show’s most recent episode, “New Business.” In a particularly cringe-worthy scene, Harry Crane propositions Megan under the pretense that he can help get her acting career back on track. Harry is a buffoon and a jackass, and I wondered if he was exposing the firm to potential liability. iStock_000051863008_XXXLarge

There is precedent for the theory that an employee who harasses a third party can expose his employer to vicarious liability. Twenty-five years ago, a New York trial court  famously found that a model was sexually harassed by Penthouse Enterprises, which, among other things, required her to engage in sexual activities for the benefit of the company’s business. In that case the model was quasi-employed by Penthouse, but the court pointed out that the conduct constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as sexual harassment.

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Did I say that?

October 13, 2014 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Satya Nadella’s job was tough enough from the start. He followed Microsoft lifer Steve Ballmer and founder Bill Gates into the CEO role at a time when the company is looking to keep its businesses rolling in the face of a changing industry, slower PC sales, and serious pressure on its bread-and-butter Windows and Office products. Overall, the consensus is that he has done well. shutterstock_194661920 (1)

A misplayed comment last week, however, earned him some derision and led to a quick retraction. During the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, Nadella suggested that women in the tech industry shouldn’t ask for pay raises and trust that their contributions would be rewarded in the long run. The audience didn’t exactly receive the advice well, and he quickly retracted the comment.

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