EMPLOYMENT LAW BLOG CARNIVAL: Black History Month (Music Greats) Edition

February is Black History Month, and in honor of this special time, our Employment Law Blog Carnival will feature some of the many, many great African-American musical artists.

We'll start by going back to the turn of the last century, with Scott Joplin, the King of Ragtime. While a child in Texarkana, young Joplin taught himself to play the piano in a white-owned home where his mother worked. A German-born music teacher noticed his talent and gave him classical instruction. His famous "Maple Leaf Rag" was published in 1899. He is also composer of the ragtime opera Treemonisha.

Here's a video clip below of his "Easy Winners" (if you've seen The Sting, you'll recognize it):

 

 

Want to be an easy winner? Follow the advice of Dan Schwartz of Connecticut Employment Law Blog to "Get it Right the First Time: Drafting Contracts with Precision." It will also help you to understand the concept of continued employment as consideration for a non-compete, so be sure to read Liza Favaro's "Cents, Peppercorns, and Continued Employment" over at Non-Compete Counsel. And, if you don't want the employee you terminated to be an easy winner, be sure to read Ari Rosenstein at CPEhr's Small Business HR blog on "Terminating An At-Will Employee: A Free Ride, or Potential Time Bomb?" and Stuart Rudner on "The High Cost of Rushing to Judgment."

Now we move ahead into the 1930's, with Louis Armstrong performing "Dinah." Armstrong got his musical training at a school for delinquents (he was sent there after firing a gun in the air on New Year's when he was 11 years old). As an adult, after playing with well-known performers including King Oliver and Fletcher Henderson, he led his own band and continues to be one of the most-loved jazz artists of all time.

 

 

Is there anything finah? In the state of Carolinah? Ask Philip Miles of Lawffice Space, who tells us the story of "Yoga Instructor 'Too Cute' for Playmate and Husband" -- this yoga instructor was apparently a little too fine to suit the wife of her employer.

Then we have the great Billie Holiday, who grew up in Baltimore in the 1920s, singing along to records of Louis Armstrong and blues legend Bessie Smith. One of Holiday's classics, Strange Fruit, was about lynchings in the South. Columbia Records would not allow her to record it because they thought it was too controversial, so she had record it for a smaller label.

Here is Lady Day singing "Mean to me -- why must you be mean to me? Gee, honey, it seems to me you love to see me cryin'":

 

 

And, in that "mean" vein, Dawn Lomer of i-Sight Software gives us "6 Things That Should Go Into Your Anti-Bullying Policy." Eric Meyer of The Employer Handbook gives us a taste of the "mob" treatment in "Employee Claims Discrimination, Then Her Friend Gets Fired. Retaliation?" ("Nice friend ya got there -- I'd sure hate to see anything happen to her.")

On to the '60s! Aretha Franklin was (deservedly) the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987. She got her start singing in the Baptist church where her father was a preacher. The family, originally from Memphis, moved to Detroit when Aretha was a teenager. She continued to sing at her dad's church in Detroit, and in 1960 went to New York to begin her singing career. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here's Lady Soul singing Respect:

 

 

(Is she singing in front of a courthouse?)

Speaking of respect, Jon Hyman of the Ohio Employer's Law Blog tells employers to "Stand By Your Employees: An Ode to Norah and the Troopers." And if you're more interested in self-respect, do read my post, "In Defense of Work."

We can't leave the '60s without a little from the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown. Born in a one-room shack in Barnwell, South Carolina, Brown was sent at the age of four to live with his aunt, the madam of a brothel. After being kicked out of school at age 12 for "insufficient clothing" (he was poor, not immodest), he turned to religion and began singing in his church choir, but then he was sent to prison for stealing a car. Prison turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, because Brown led the prison choir and met his future musical collaborator, Bobby Byrd. After touring with artists like Ray Charles and B.B. King, Brown went on to become known as "the hardest working man in show business." Watch this video of Brown (from The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966, doing a medley of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Feel Good"), and tell us if you don't agree that he deserves the nickname:

 

 

Now that your energy level is up, check out Randy Enochs of the Wisconsin Employment & Labor Law Blog on the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit holding that even a temporary impairment can be a disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act. Papa, it's a brand new bag, and those plaintiffs feel good!

Movin' on to the '80s! Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, and got his start as the lead singer in the The Jackson 5, when Michael was age five. The group opened for performers like Gladys Knight and the Pips and James Brown before being signed on to Motown Records in 1968, where they recorded hits such as "I Want You Back," and "ABC." Michael Jackson eventually went solo, and of course "went on to become one of the most internationally famous award-winning solo pop sensations to date."

From 1982, here is the "Beat It" video:

 

 

And we have Mark Toth of Employment Blawg telling employers how to beat the "intermittent FMLA blues" in "Managing Intermittent Leave Without Intermittently Losing Your Mind" (I love that title!), Kaitlin Hillenbrand of Employment Essentials telling us all how to beat the flu in "It's Duck Season . . . Rabbit Season; No, It's Really Vaccination Season," Donna Ballman of Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home telling us how to beat our worst instincts in "Don't Make These 10 Easily Avoidable Mistakes That Can Get You Fired," and Nilesh Patel telling us how to beat our past sins with "Why It Shouldn't Matter That Governor [Scott] Walker Shared a Stage With a Sex Offender." Then we have Lorene Schaefer of Win-Win HR telling us how not to beat a discrimination claim, in Jury Awards $1.5M+ Against IBM in Age Discrimination Case After Faulty Internal Investigation.

We will close with a tribute to the great contralto Marian Anderson. Most of you know the story: In 1939, she was to present a concert at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., but the Daughters of the American Revolution would not allow her do it. So, at the invitation of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, she performed on the Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial before a crowd of hundreds of thousands. Here she is, singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee." If this does not make you cry, then you have a heart of stone.

 

 

Let freedom ring!

 

Thanks very much, as always, to our contributors and to our fearless Blog Carnival leader, Eric Meyer of The Employer Handbook, for keeping us on the straight and narrow every single month of every single year.

Our hostess with the mostess in March will be the excellent Heather Bussing of HR Examiner. See you then . . . and there!

Tags: ABC, Adam Lanza, Anna Rothschild, Aretha Franklin, Ari Rosenstein, B.B. King, Bathrooms, Benjamin Franklin, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Billy Hammel, Billy Madison, Black History Month, Bobby Byrd, Boston Marathon Bombings, Boston Marathon Bombs, California Corner, Charlotte Observer, Consideration, Contracts, Counterclaim, Daniel Schwartz, Daughters of the American Revolution, Dawn Lomer, Defend Trade Secrets Act, Dinah, Donna Ballman, Easy Winners, Ed Sullivan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Eric Lyle Williams, Eric Meyer, Fashion, Fletcher Henderson, George Jones, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Gov. Scott Walker, Heather Bussing, HR Examiner, I Feel Good, I Want You Back, Imelda Marcos, Jade Brewster, James Brown, James Holmes, Jillian Humphreys, Jon Hyman, Kauffman County District Attorney, King Oliver, Labor Trafficking, Legg v. Ulster County, Lincoln Memorial, Liza Favaro, Lorene Schaefer, Los Angeles Office, Louis Armstrong, Maple Leaf Rag, Marian Anderson, Mark Toth, Maya Rudolph, Mean to Me, Michael Jackson, Minimally Qualified, Mississippi, My Country 'Tis of Thee, Nilesh Patel, Non-Competes, Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, OWBPA, Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, PBS, Pee Dee River, Penny Wise Pound Foolish, Philip Miles, Pretext, Promotion, Ray Charles, Respect, Retailer, Robin Shea, Rudyard Kipling, Rutgers, Sandy Hook Elementary, Scandal, Scott Joplin, Second Amendment, Separation Agreement, Severance Agreements, SmithKline Beecham, Strange Fruit, Stuart Rudner, SUNY-Stony Brook, Swiss Army knife, The Sting, Thompson Reuters, Threats, Treemonisha, Ulster County, Virginia, Wage Payment, Waitresses, West Fertilizer Company, Whammyburger, Win-Win HR

Robin Shea has more than 20 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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