Posts In "Labor/Employment"

Labor/Employment




At Least The Unicorn Won’t Sue You

When not writing about the legal issues raised by my favorite TV shows, most of this blogger’s Law Law Land blogs have involved either employment law or social media issues.  So you can imagine my sheer delight when the news of Pax Dickinson’s now-infamous Twitter account emerged, since it is a perfect disgusting marriage of these issues, as well as a cautionary tale to employers and employees alike.

In a nutshell, this is a story about an employee who was fired for writing offensive Tweets.  But the reason this made national news is that Dickinson was Chief Technology Officer of the website Business Insider, which has over 23 million unique views each month and top executives from other dotcoms.  In other words, these guys know a little something about the Internet and social media.  And yet, Dickinson was tweeting his biased worldview for all to see—including his real name and title at Business Insider—for four years (and more than 10,000 Tweets), and the company did nothing until Dickinson was outed by Valleywag’s Nitasha Tiku and the story went viral.  What’s more, at least one of Dickinson’s high-up colleagues previously knew about his Twitter shenanigans and even blocked Dickinson on Twitter.

Continue reading the full story . . . »




BaZynga!

Free-to-play games are all the rage these days.  Many people while away their days playing Angry Birds, or Words with Friends before going home to watch Monday Night Football.  Nerds — and, increasingly, “normal people” — do the exact same thing, except instead of watching football, we play games like Super Monday Night Combat.  This summer, the remarkable viability of the free-to-play business model gained extra attention when Forbes reported that the most-played PC game in the world is now a free-to-play game called League of Legends.  For those of you struggling to understand the profitability part, just take a look at League of Legends character Teemo (pictured left).  I mean, seriously, who can resist purchasing all the adorable “skins” for him?!  (Clearly, not me.)

Nevertheless, the business world of free-to-play gaming is not without its dark, seedy underbelly, where even the cute and cuddly characters are forced to work in digital sweatshops and sell virtual drugs on simulated street corners just to make ends meet.  Well, ok, maybe it’s not that extreme.  But as a recent (and bitter) dispute between game makers Zynga and Kixeye demonstrates, the gaming business can be just as ugly (and fascinating) as some of the game battles themselves.

Continue reading the full story . . . »




Magic Turkey Lawsuits

There is a lot to be thankful for in Los Angeles this Thanksgiving.  As I’m sure we can all agree, near the top of the list is the Lakers’ recent acquisition of superstars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, as well as team USA Coach Mike D’Antoni, all in time for the holidays.  Of course, I’m guessing that the Buss family’s decision not to hire Coach Phil Jackson (who is dating Lakers executive and daughter-of-the-owner Jeannie Buss) is going to make things awfully awkward at the Buss family Thanksgiving dinner table.

Of course, that’s only going to the second most awkward turkey-related incident of the last month for a member of the Lakers family.  The dubious first prize goes to Laker great Magic Johnson, whose passion for turkey and other tasty treats has found its way into a civil lawsuit against him.

Just before Halloween, a woman named Latina Thomas — who, until recently, was Magic’s personal flight attendant — filed a wrongful termination action against Magic and the aviation company that had co-employed her.  Ms. Thomas alleges that she was fired for being seven minutes late to work after waiting an extra-long time at a deli counter trying to purchase “two types of specific turkey” for Magic’s sandwich.  Ms. Thomas claims that the turkey incident was a pretext for her firing so that Magic could replace her with a younger woman.

So who’s the real turkey here?  Magic Johnson or the flight attendant? Continue reading the full story . . . »




Employment Law 101, Hollywood Edition, Part II: No Clowning Around

For the most part, employment law may appear to lack the glitz and glamour of the entertainment legal issues we usually cover here at Law Law Land.  But what the field might miss in star-studded premieres and ritzy award shows, it more than makes up for in amazingly entertaining fact patterns involving fascinating forms of employee misbehavior.  And sometimes, just sometimes, the wacky world of California employment law intersects with the wacky world we call Hollywood.  Today’s case-in-point involves an entertainment company, a complaining employee with a colorful nickname for his boss, a termination, and — of course — a lawsuit.

Rewind for a moment to 2008 — a year in which America said goodbye to Heath Ledger, hello to Barack Obama, and, depending on one’s political persuasion “You betcha” or “Dear God why?” to Sarah Palin.  And that year, our plaintiff, Andrew McDonald, was a creative director at a visual post-production studio called RIOT.  Defendant Ascent Media Group subsequently merged RIOT with Method Studios, after which Method Studios’ creative director Alex Frisch was named director of creative visual effects and became McDonald’s boss.  Then things got interesting. Continue reading the full story . . . »




The Importance of Keeping Abreast of the Law of Workplace Dress Codes

In a case that rivals the showdowns between scantily-clad women on episodes of the infamous Real Housewives of New Jersey and Jersey Shore, a lesser-known New Jersey resident, Lauren Odes, is sure to get her 15 minutes of fame by filing a complaint against her former employer, claiming that its dress code was a bust, and that she was fired for being “too hot.”  As for the accused employer?  It’s a lingerie manufacturer owned by Orthodox Jewish men (once again proving that reality is sometimes funnier, weirder, and more creative than bloggers ever could be).

Odes worked for her employer, Native Intimates, for the grand total of a week.  During that time, she claims that she was not only asked to wear less provocative clothing, but that she was advised by her supervisor to tape down her chest and was forced to wear an ugly robe to cover up a revealing outfit before she was ultimately terminated when she left work to buy a baggy outfit.

Here is a photograph of Odes at her press-conference, holding a picture of herself in the robe she was allegedly shamed into wearing (and presumably attempting to demonstrate the hotness for which she was allegedly terminated):

Like Right Said Fred, she may just be too sexy for that job.

(With Odes is celebrattorney Gloria Allred, who appears to have a batphone that rings any time a case like this arises.)

Odes, who also claims that she is being unfairly held to her employer’s Orthodox religious standards regarding dress, has filed claims for gender and religious discrimination under federal law.  Many find Odes’ case to be laughable.  But does Odes have a legitimate claim to get off her chest? Continue reading the full story . . . »




Employment Law 101: Hollywood Edition

While I most often write on Law Law Land about copyrightsInternet issues, and various things Hollywood, the bread and butter of my practice is employment litigation: more specifically, representing employers who are sued for wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and/or wage and hour claims. In California, employment laws tend to favor employees, and like any employer, Hollywood employers are vulnerable to employment lawsuits when they don’t cross their T’s and dot their I’s (and sometimes even when they do).

The Hollywood employment lawsuit du jour was brought against MTV by a former employee on the show The Hills. Do you remember that trip to Costa Rica the cast took for the 100th episode of the show? Yeah, me neither — as much as I love me some Justin Bobby/Audrina drama (almost as much as I love James Franco and Mila Kunis’ spoof of them during the writers’ strike), I just couldn’t stomach K-Cav as leading lady. [Ed. Note: Did any of the last sentence mean anything to you, dear readers? No, me neither.] But this Costa Rica trip will now live on in infamy, not only as the trip where Justin Bobby apparently wore a Confederate flag hat, but also as the trip that fueled this lawsuit.

According to the complaint, Eliza Sproul was a Field Clearance Coordinator/Production Coordinator on The Hills and accompanied Kristin and crew to Costa Rica. There, her employment “took a turn for the worse” when she was allegedly pressured with drugs, sexually harassed, and forced to work long hours until she “essentially broke down” from exhaustion. The complaint was just filed on October 18, so MTV has not yet filed any responsive papers. But I’m going to put on my employment litigator hat for a moment to analyze Ms. Sproul’s claims. Continue reading the full story . . . »




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