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Hostile Racial Environment At Fenway

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

With the Reds playing so well (all alone in first to start the day) it’s easy to be paying attention to baseball. Consequently, I read about what happened last Tuesday at Fenway Park where I otherwise might not have. Many are aware that on Monday night, fans at Fenway Park shouted racist slurs at Orioles center fielder Adam Jones during the game and one fan hurled a bag of peanuts at him. The reaction was swift. The owner of the Red Sox personally apologized. The Mayor of Boston and the Governor of Massachusetts condemned the conduct. An investigation was launched. Boston NAACP President said it is concerning that someone would think they could go to a crowded stadium, use that type of racially charged language, and suffer no consequences. Then the next day fans gave Jones a standing ovation before his first plate appearance.
But it happened again Tuesday night (the night Jones would receive a standing ovation) right after the singing of the national anthem. According to Calvin Hennick, a white Boston Rex Sox fan who was attending the game with his 6 year old son, who is African-American, and his Haitian father-in-law, a “middle-aged white fan” complained aloud that the Kenyon woman who sang the national anthem made it “too long, and she n****** it up.” Hennick was concerned, particularly for his son who was attending his first game. When Hennick turned and asked the man if he really just said that, the man repeated the slur and said “that’s right, and I stand by it.” Hennick reported the incident to an usher and the man was eventually kicked out. Hennick was surprised the man would make these comments to him of all people as he was sitting next to his African-American family. Hennick said, “then I realized that that was the whole point. He wanted to prove that he could say whatever he wanted. It was a finger to the eye.”
There are a lot of parallels between what happened at Fenway Park and what ought to happen at the workplace when conduct like this occurs – bad conduct, bad conduct reported, bad conduct investigated, consequences for the offender. Just a couple of weeks ago the United States District Court for the Second Circuit held that, in the employment context, a single racial slur might provide sufficient basis for a hostile work environment claim under the right circumstances. It seems a no brainer that asking a 6 year old African-American kid who was attending his first ever baseball game to sit next to an adult using the N word and then “standing by it” would have a significant negative impact on that kid.
Boston Red Sox Fan Reports A Racial Slur, And A Lifetime Ban
Red Sox eject, ban fan from Fenway Park for life for racial slur
Boston Red Sox fan reports another for racial slur at Fenway Park
Racial slur leads to fan being banned from Fenway Park

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Race Discrimination At Fox News

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

In addition to the multiple claims of sexual harassment Fox News has been dealing with, a high profile African-American reporter and the only African-American anchor at Fox News, Kelly Wright, last week joined a lawsuit brought by more than 10 employees complaining of systemic race discrimination at Fox News. Wright, an Emmy-winning anchor and an employee of Fox News for 14 years, said at a news conference “The (network) failed to be fair and balanced for all of our employees regardless of race, gender, faith, creed or color.”

It should not be surprising to see the reports of discrimination/harassment mounting. The women who made internal complaints about Bill O’Reilly say they were told by Fox News there was nothing that could be done because it’s Bill O’Reilly so they just had to put up with it. So, a number of employees with legitimate complaints chose to suffer in silence rather than push the issue. Now that employees are seeing some results, they are speaking up.

Of course, “there’s nothing we can do” is simply not the right response to a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment. If you have a legitimate concern that you are being discriminated against or harassed at work, you should investigate your rights. Many companies have policies in place that address discrimination, harassment, retaliation, procedures for making complaints and what is supposed to happen when a complaint is made. You can also consult an employment attorney.

Fox News hit with racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit from

Fox News Anchor Kelly Wright: ‘Indefensible and Inexcusable’ – Variety

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The Sexual Harassment Factor

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

No doubt almost everyone is aware that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News parted ways last week following new allegations of sexual harassment. This happened less than a year after Fox News had to get rid of Roger Ailes for the same reason. The New York Times published an article on April 1 detailing a series of sexual harassment allegations against O’Reilly and how Fox News and its parent company repeatedly stood by O’Reilly and paid out tens of millions to settle with the women who complained. In fact, Fox News settled two of the sexual harassment cases against O’Reilly after Ailes left. It also extended O’Reilly’s contract. Women at Fox News questioned whether the company was serious about creating a different culture as it had promised last year following the Ailes scandal. Those questions still remain.

What drove O’Reilly out was most likely dollars rather than a desire to do the right thing. A month ago, there were at least 30 nationally broadcast commercials each night on “The O’Reilly Factor.” In the weeks following the article, most major brands withdrew all advertising dollars from the program.

For his part, O’Reilly (and Ailes for that matter) has denied all of the allegations. But consider this. The women who made the allegations against O’Reilly worked for him and/or appeared on his show. If there was a place to advance your career, his show was it. Yet many still complained, even though they feared it could ruin their careers.

The Ailes and O’Reilly fiascos should result in corporations taking the issue of sexual harassment more seriously. As an employment attorney I’ve consulted with many women who told me of sexual harassment but were concerned that if they complained they would suffer retaliation. Hopefully after these two high profile men were forced out, more women with legitimate complaints will be willing to come forward and more employers will address the concerns appropriately.

Bill O’Reilly Thrives at Fox News, Even as Harassment Settlements …

Why Was Bill O’Reilly Really Fired? – The Atlantic

Bill O’Reilly Is Forced Out at Fox News – The New York Times

 

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The Increasing Diversity Of Federal Judges Under President Obama

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week the first topic discussed in the third presidential debate was the Supreme Court. Moderator Chris Wallace pointed out that the next President will potentially make several appointments to the Supreme Court. In fact, Presidents are responsible for nominating the lower level federal judges as well. There are 13 courts of appeals and 94 district courts. During his time in office, President Obama has made diversity on the federal bench a priority. His belief is that a diverse judiciary helps ensure fair and just administration of the law and engenders public confidence in the court system. Consequently, his nominees have been diverse. This is the first time in history the Supreme Court has had three women on the bench. In fact, only 4 of the 112 Justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court have been women and Obama appointed two of them. Obama has appointed several hundred judges. In all, 42% of the judges appointed by Obama are women. By way of contrast, 22% of judicial appointees under President George W. Bush are women. 19% of the judges appointed by Obama are African American. Under Bush it was 7%. 11% of Obama’s appointments are Hispanic. Under Bush it was 9%. 7% of Obama’s appointments are Asian-American. Under Bush it was 1%. President Obama has appointed 11 openly gay judges. Only 1 had ever been appointed before (by President Clinton).
How Obama Transformed the Federal Judiciary
The number of white dudes becoming federal judges has plummeted
This is the First Time Our Judicial Pool Has Been This Diverse

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Ohio’s Minimum Wage Going Up

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

On January 1, 2017 the minimum wage in Ohio will increase from $8.10 an hour to $8.15 an hour. Ohio employers with gross receipts of more than $299,000 must pay Ohio minimum wage.  Ohio employers with gross receipts of less than that must pay federal minimum wage which is currently $7.25 an hour. Back in 2006 voters in Ohio passed an amendment to Ohio’s Constitution tying the minimum wage in Ohio to the rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index. With the election coming up and because federal law trumps state law (pun intended), it’s worth a look at the positions of the presidential candidates on the federal minimum wage. Clinton is in favor of raising the federal minimum wage to $12.00 an hour. An Ohioan working 40 hours a week would see an increase in yearly earnings from $15,080 (which is below the poverty threshold for a family of at least 2) to $24,960. Trump has recently voiced support for raising the federal minium wage to $10.00 an hour which would result in yearly earnings of $20,800.

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