What's your two cents? Employment law in the news

I've been vacationing by the shores of Gitche-Gumee this week, so I'm trying to give myself a little blog-cation as well. Here are some entertaining and controversial legal or employment-related developments from the news before I left. With apologies to John Oliver, let's just call it "Last Week Today." (Hey! I'm on vacation!)

Feel free to debate and discuss in the comment section, and I'll be back full strength next week.  :-)

Culturally sensitive, or mentally ill? Very interesting article in The Atlantic about whether all the emphasis on college campuses on "microagressions," "trigger warnings," harassment, and discrimination is encouraging psychological dysfunction in the students. If you plan on being an HR professional, supervisor, or manager in the next 5-10 years or more, as these students enter the workforce, this is a must-read.

Is it a good idea to "raise consciousness" about unintended, as well as intended, slights, and to call the offenders out about them? Or is it better to encourage folks to try to give others the benefit of the doubt?

What implications will increased "sensitivity" have for the workplace of the future?

Feminist martyr, or just a big jerk? (Speaking of princesses and peas . . .) You have probably read about British barrister Charlotte Proudman, who had a cute photo on her LinkedIn account. An older male solicitor (as in "lawyer," not "procurer") sent her a message and told her that her photo was stunning. His message was complimentary and not at all explicit. I don't know whether he was trying to politely hit on her. In any event, she sent him back a haughty message, calling him out for sexist behavior, and he apologized. Then she tweeted the exchange and identified the guy by name. Since that time, the internet comments about Ms. Proudman have been decidedly less than complimentary, and some solicitors/barristers in the U.K. are telling her that she has sabotaged her career. Because of the backlash, Staci Zaretsky of Above The Law is calling Ms. Proudman a "martyr." (Please.) The comments to Ms. Zaretsky's post aren't trending very positive, either. Meanwhile, my favorite gossip rag, The Daily Mail, reports that Ms. Proudman herself has sent messages on Facebook to cute guys that sound a bit "objectifying." ("Ooh-la-la" was one.)

Was Ms. Proudman right or wrong?

If she was wrong, should her career be ruined over this? Why, or why not?

Is there a difference between sending a friendly/possibly-flirtatious message on LinkedIn versus Facebook? Why, or why not?

True or false: She who lives by the social media sword dies by the social media sword. Looks like Ms. Proudman really does have issues, none of which would have come to light if she'd stayed off Twitter.

"Starting a conversation," or "unconditional surrender"? Ellen Pao -- who had sued venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins for sex discrimination and retaliation, and came away with zip (from a jury in San Francisco!) -- had appealed the adverse decision. Meanwhile, Kleiner Perkins asked for almost $1 million in attorneys' fees but was awarded "only" $300,000. Last week, Ms. Pao paid the attorneys' fees bill and walked away. Here's her side of why she hung it up. She is not a fan of our legal system, apparently.

Was Ms. Pao's lawsuit worthwhile in "starting a conversation" about alleged sex discrimination in the tech industry, despite the fact that she lost?

Does the legal system stack the deck against sex discrimination plaintiffs, or is Ms. Pao just  a sore loser?

If you think the legal system was unfair to Ms. Pao, what would you do to change it?

Great advice, or outstanding advice? Excellent column by Tom Fox in last weekend's Washington Post about how a young supervisor can build rapport and good working relationships with the older, more experienced employees who report to him or her.

What advice would you give to a young supervisor with older, more experienced reports?

Is it age discrimination to put a young, relatively inexperienced supervisor over a group of older, experienced workers?


As I promised last week, Cara Crotty is here with what federal contractors need to know about the OFCCP's final regulations regarding "pay transparency." And according to Cara, more regs are on the way. We will keep you posted.

David Phippen explains why the National Labor Relations Board's new acceptance of electronic signatures on election petitions may be a game-changer.

By the way, many thanks to Bill Principe of our Atlanta Office and co-chair of our Occupational Safety and Health practice group (and an outstanding writer, besides) for assuming editorial duties for me on our firm publications while I've been away.

Robin Shea has 30 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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