Showing posts with label harassment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label harassment. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Are you an ally, or are you just afraid of being canceled?

I tell my students, "When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game."

I think of this quote often when I think about what it means to be an ally at work. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The nuts and bolts of your company code of conduct

Yesterday I explained why your company needs a code of conduct separate from or adjunct to your already-existing anti-harassment policy. 

Today, I'm back to explain what it should contain, to whom it should apply, how violations are addressed, and how it should be disseminated.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Does your craft brewery or other company have a code of conduct?

Meet Brienne Allan, a brewer at Notch Brewing in Salem, Mass. In May 2021 she asked a simple question in an Instagram Story— "What sexist comments have you experienced?"

What followed were hundreds upon hundreds of stories of sex-based discrimination, harassment, and other abuse.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

A step in the right direction to ending workplace sexual harassment

When is the last time you recall Congress agreeing on anything? Well, it happened last week, when the Senate passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (full text here.)

Simply, once signed by President Biden (which should happen imminently), any agreement that requires an employee to submit a sexual harassment claim to private arbitration, or waive their right to participate in a class or collective action, would be invalid and unenforceable. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Employment law lessons from “Ted Lasso” – dating the boss

If you've not yet watched episode 8 (Man City) of the current second season of Apple TV+'s Ted Lasso and you don't want to be spoiled, now would be a good time to click the back button on your browser or close your email. Good? Okay. No grumbling; you've been warned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

“Ted Lasso" and the difference between illegal harassment and legal (but still wrong) bullying

If you're watching Ted Lasso, you're familiar with the story of Nathan Shelley, kit man turned coach turned Wonder Kid. Season 2 tells a fascinating story about Nate that is still unfolding. His arc has transformed him from a bullied kit man to an abusive coach, and from a loveable underdog to an insufferable a-hole. Episode 7 ended with Nate cruelly unleashing a tirade of anger on his replacement as the team's kitman, Will.

There is little doubt that Nate's mistreatment of Will and others is both uncomfortable to watch and a portrait of horrendous management. But is it illegal?

The answer is no.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Why would a company wait a year to implement an anti-harassment program?

McDonald's has lots of secrets. What's in its sauce? What part of the chicken do the McNuggets come from? How come every time I crave a cone the soft-serve machine is out of order? Why do their soft drinks taste better than anyone else's?

Something that's not a secret, however, is that McDonald's has a serious sexual harassment problem.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Supporting our AAPI employees in their time of crisis

The stats are jarring, disturbing, and scary. During the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been nearly 3,800 reported anti-Asian hate incidents, including shunning, slurs, and physical attacks. That number represents a stunning 46 percent increase over the prior year, and still just a small percentage of the actual number that has occurred. These incidents culminated last week in Robert Aaron Long shooting and killing eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlor.

Your AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) employees are hurting. Here are some thoughts on how we, as their employers, can best support them. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

How many N-words create a hostile work environment?

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to answer these questions:

  1. Whether an employee's exposure to the N-word in the workplace is severe enough to send his Title VII hostile-work-environment claim to a trier of fact.
  2. Whether and in what circumstances racial epithets in the workplace are "extremely serious" incidents sufficient to create a hostile work environment under Title VII, rather than nonactionable "mere utterances."

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Github fires employee for using the n-word … Nazi

Software company GitHub is taking a lot of heat for firing a Jewish employee for referring to the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6 as "Nazis." The Verge has the details:
GitHub reportedly fired a Jewish employee after he posted a message in Slack that said "stay safe homies, Nazis are about" the day of the attack on the US Capitol….

The message sparked controversy inside the company, with one colleague criticizing him for using divisive language. GitHub's HR team chastised the employee for using the word "Nazi" in a company Slack channel. Two days later, GitHub allegedly fired him, citing vague patterns of behavior. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

My one work rule to rule them all

George Carlin was a genius. He just had a way of breaking down language into its most simple parts. Whether it was The 7 Dirty Words or The 10 Commandments, Carlin was just brilliant with language. For example, he dismantled each of the 10 Commandments into just two:


  • Thou shalt always be honest and faithful, especially to the provider of thy nookie.

And second:

  • Thou shalt try real hard not to kill anyone, unless, of course, they pray to a different invisible man than the one you pray to.

I thought of this yesterday after stumbling upon a tweetstorm authored by Kate Bischoff reacting to this New York Times article suggesting that Jeffrey Toobin's long and esteemed career justifies that he should get his job back despite his Zoom full monty faux pas. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Just because an employer wins summary judgment doesn’t mean you should emulate its behavior

Jennifer Paskert worked as a sales associate for Auto$mart, a “buy here, pay here” used car dealership located in Spirit Lake, Iowa. During her six months of employment, she claimed her manager, Bret Burns, sexually harassed her. Her allegations included overhearing Burns tells other than he “never should have hired a woman” and wondering aloud if he could make Paskert cry. Burns also bragged at work about his sexual conquests. One on occasion he attempted to rub Paskert’s shoulders told her he was going to give her a hug. On another occasion, after Paskert had criticized how Burns treated women, Burns replied, “Oh, if you weren’t married and I wasn’t married, I could have you … You’d be mine … I’m a closer.”

Ultimately, Auto$mart fired Paskert for “insubordination.” She then filed suit for sexual harassment, among other claims.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Frivolous litigation has a price … sometimes a big price

In 2005, Monika Starke filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging that her employer, CRST Van Expedited, Inc., subjected her to sexual harassment. The EEOC expanded that initial charge into a federal-court lawsuit over whether CRST engaged in sexual harassment against myriad of its female driver trainees.

What followed was 14 years of litigation, several trips to the court of appeals, one trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, and an attorney-fee award of over $3.3 million against the EEOC for frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless conduct in the filing and prosecution of the underlying claims.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

EEOC settlement provides expensive lesson on including social media in your anti-harassment policies and training

EEOC v. Nabors Corp. Services involves serious allegations of racial harassment, including the following.

Being addressed at work by co-workers with racial slurs such as “nigger”; being exposed at work to offensive, racially derogatory social media images and material circulated by co-workers and managers; being exposed to racist graffiti, including racial slurs and derogatory drawings concerning Black persons at company facilities in and around Pleasanton, Texas; being referred to as members of the “colored crew” by employees and managers; and in some instances, being subjected to intimidation and physical threats by employees because of race, Black.

The company recently resolved this case, agreeing to pay 10 employees a total of $1,225,000 to settle the EEOC’s claims of racial harassment, race discrimination, and retaliation.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Celebrating “World Kindness Day” at work #WorldKindnessDay #ChooseKindness

Today is World Kindness Day. Introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, it highlights good deeds in the community by focusing on the positiveness of our common bond of kindness.

It is a day worth celebrating, and one that we sorely need and is sadly necessary.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

#MeToo does not always equal #FireHim

Just because an employee complains about harassment does not mean that if the allegations are founded the employer must fire the harasser.

Consider, for example, Abbood v. Texas Health & Human Servs. Comm. (5th Cir. 11/7/19).

Monday, October 21, 2019

My dog was victim-blamed … and I don’t like it

On Friday, Dante, our five-month-old puppy, was attacked while in the (what we thought was the) safety our our fenced-in yard.

New neighbors recently moved in next door with their not-so-nice German Shepherd. They’ve warned us that he doesn’t get along well with other dogs, and, for that reason, they either tether him in their backyard, or monitor him while outside. At the time of the attack he was flying solo, and it ended badly for Dante. No one actually saw what happened, but either Dante was puppy-exploring through the slats in our fence, or the other dog lunged through the slats, or a combination of both. Either way, the neighbor’s dog was definitely the aggressor, and Dante definitely limped away with the lone injury.

Before staples                          After staples

Thursday, October 17, 2019

New EEOC case is a not-so-subtle reminder that we still have a lot of work to do to improve race relations

The allegations in this case—which the EEOC just filed against a Louisiana river transporter—remind us that while race relations have improved over the past several decades, they are far from perfect and we remain a nation with a lot of work to do.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Poor taste does not amount to prohibited sexual harassment.

I once made the mistake of watching an episode of Orange is the New Black on an airplane. The guy sitting behind was very uncomfortably enjoying the show along with me, and I shut it down.

Which brings me to Sims v. Met Council, a case in which an employee claimed her co-workers’ choice of television shows in the break room created a hostile work environment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The supposed #MeToo backlash is just discrimination by another name

A recent study suggests that there has been a backlash against the #MeToo movement.

According to  the Harvard Business Review, men have are treating their females co-workers differently because of #MeToo.

  • 19% of men said they were reluctant to hire attractive women
  • 21% said they were reluctant to hire women for jobs involving close interactions with men
  • 27% said they avoided one-on-one meetings with female colleagues