Category Archives: Workplace

Remember The Title, “When An Apology Isn’t Enough: Carol Costello’s Ugly Partisan Bias”? An Apology Still Isn’t Enough.

"Dear Carol..."

“Dear Carol…”

As Joe Concha reports on Mediaite, the media drumbeats are growing louder in the news media jungle, calling for Carol Costello to deliver an on-air apology when she returns to the CNN morning broadcast Monday. Various media critics, including the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple (whose judgement is inherently suspect after pronouncing the smug and biased CNN anchorwoman “outstanding”), Fox’s inconsistent Howard Kurtz, and even CNN’s own Brian Stelter, have declared unacceptable Costello’s vicious, personal, plainly partisan glee while introducing a tape of Bristol Palin giving her account of what she claimed as was a physical attack on her by a larger man.  (Then there’s me.) Concha concludes,

“Throw in the growing-in-popularity hashtag (#firecarolcostello) on Twitter, a CNN Should Fire Carol Costello Facebook page, and a boatload of hypocrisy after she called for an ESPN analyst (Stephen A. Smith) to be suspended for insensitive comments he made about women’s abuse during the Ray Rice controversy, and you have an embattled anchor whose only option at this point is to ask for forgiveness on CNN (a mandatory two-week vacation afterward might not be a bad idea, either).”

As I explained at the time, Costello was wrong, and stupidly wrong, about Smith, as indeed she is wrong with remarkable frequency, and annoying even when she isn’t. Hypocrisy is only a small sliver of her problem, and no apology will cure what her gratuitous attack on Palin’s daughter reveals beyond question. She can express contrition to Bristol, but again, it doesn’t matter: her words, and the fact that she was unable to restrain herself sufficiently to avoid saying them on the air prove that she is unacceptably biased for a journalist. So great is her partisan hate that she takes glee in bodily harm being inflicted on the children of a popular conservative figure. So alien to Costello are the values of professionalism, fairness and respect for her viewers that she actually said, on the air, that her favorite part of the tape was the part where Palin said she had been called a cunt.  Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Workplace

Ethics Alarms Encore: “Tom Yawkey’s Red Sox Racism, and How Not to Prove It”

Yawkey TributeEvery now and then a comment out of the blue reminds me of a post that I had forgotten. That was the case here. Reading it again for the first time in five years, I was struck by how the crux of the post is still relevant today (that crux has nothing to do with baseball), and indeed how the intervening five years have made what I thought was a bad trend a genuine political and cultural malady.

And the World Series is going on, and I feel badly about the Red Sox having such a miserable season. This post, which few read when it was first published as the blog was attracting (let’s see…) less than 200 views a day as opposed to nearly 4000 a day now, is a good one, and I enjoyed it.  That “self-professed ethicist” has his moments…. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Workplace, Sports, Journalism & Media, History, Race, Character

Supplemental Comments On The President’s Ordered Kiss

I’m in NYC for a law firm seminar, and expect to get back to Ethics Alarms late if at all, so I want to make a couple of clarifications lest the comments on yesterday’s Ethics Quiz go astray.

I am not blaming the President for what is a standard, culturally embedded demonstration of male dominance, presumed female submissiveness and abuse of power. He is part of the culture that tolerates this, and while it would be immensely beneficial if he used his influence as a role model to move us away from this conduct that is a major, if under-recognized, way that the glass ceiling is kept intact, I recognize that this is a lot to ask, and that he has other pressing matters to deal with.

Make no mistake, however, that the male power-hug, power-kiss is a stubborn remnant of the patriarchy. I know that astute feminists (and others, like me) know this, and the fact that they don’t have the integrity or the courage to condemn the conduct when it surface’s in  a political ally is disappointing if not surprising.

To those who (absurdly) claim that the woman’s response in the video was consensual, I only ask them to speculate what her alternative to submitting to the POTUS ordered smooch was. She knew the incident was on television. He is the leader of the free world, she is, by comparison and to the public, at least, nobody. Should she have embarrassed him by refusing? Should she reject the President of the United States when he his being “nice,” thus instantly making herself the center of a controversy? Of course not. This is why the position the President placed her in was unfair.

It is, however, incredibly, disturbingly common. From Richard Dawson’s mandatory kisses from female contestants on the original “Family Feud,” to the old lions of the plaintiffs bar trying to cop a feel with my young female staffers at an association convention, men in power, and men generally, feel they have a right to this culturally accepted invasion of a woman’s physical person, and women feel obligated to permit it. Every time they do, they do their little bit to keeping men in a step ahead of them.

That’s the real issue here, not sexual assault.

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society, Workplace

Those Unethical Noncompete Clauses

noncompetesIt would not unseat the presumptive and early-declared winner of the 2014 Ethics Alarms Corporate Asshole  Of The Year Award (of which, by the way, there is new news: the consumer Comcast got fired for complaining about its lousy service is suing), but sandwich chain Jimmy John’s outrageous noncompete clause in its employee contracts puts it in an enviable position of strength to be runner-up Corporate Asshole, if that is its aspiration.

It must be. Non-compete clauses are roundly detested in the law, often illegal, and frequently struck down by courts as unconscionable. They are justified, if at all, when an employee has a management-level position in a high tech or sophisticated knowledge and innovation field, or when he or she is a prominent industry figure  who could instantly harm a company by leaving and launching direct competition. Increasingly, however, companies have been using tight job markets to foist noncompete provisions on lowly service employees too, as fine-print additions to contracts that the employee is unlikely to have thoroughly read or understand. The New York Times reported on a Massachusetts man who sprayed pesticides on lawns for a living, and who had to sign a two-year noncompete agreement to do it. A  standard textbook editor was required to sign an agreement banning him from working for another publisher for six-months if he left his position. A marketing firm pressured a newly-minted Boston University grad to sign a one-year noncompete pledge for an entry-level social media job, and a even summer interns at an electronics firm had to agree to a yearlong ban. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

Ebola in Dallas: No Excuses For the CDC

doctor_stooges_2

The statement by the nurses union in Dallas describing the Three Stooges level breaches in safety protocols surrounding the treatment of Thomas Duncan, the nation’s first Ebola fatality is shocking, but it should be no surprise, ironically. By now, Americans should be used to being told that our benevolent overseers in the government have matters well in hand, our best interests at heart, and the expertise and resources to do the job governments are supposed to do.  They are also used to discovering, especially lately, that the expensive systems and professionals we have been instructed to trust are in truth lazily administered, incompetently run, staffed with too many sluggards just waiting for a paid retirement, and most of all, well aware that failure carries little or no accountability.  In the recent past it has been the Secret Service, the Veterans Administration, the State Department, Homeland Security, the IRS, HHS and our military that have shown deficits in management, oversight, planning, professionalism and common sense undermining our trust. Now it is the Center for Disease Control. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Incompetent Elected Officials, Professions, Workplace

Early Ethics Alarms 2014 Award: The Corporate Asshole Of The Year Is….Comcast

Yeah, just try getting Comcast to fix your service issues, and you may find out exactly what it cares about, when you get your severance paycheck...just ask Conal O"Roarke.

Yeah, just try getting Comcast to fix your service issues, and you may find out exactly what it cares about when you get your severance paycheck…just ask Conal O”Roarke.

I don’t want to spoil the suspense or anything, but when a company gives a customer horrible service, keeps botching its attempts to address it, and then calls the customer’s employer about the persistence of his complaints, getting him fired as a direct result, attention, as Mrs. Willy Loman memorably said, must be paid.

Here is the whole awful story, as first described in Consumerist.

Conal O’Rourke  subscribed to Comcast in early 2013.  The company charged him, he says, for set-top boxes that hadn’t been activated; some of his bills were not being delivered as well, because they had his name wrong on the account. He met with a Comcast rep in May who said all would be resolved. It wasn’t. The problems got worse. In addition to still being charged for unactivated devices in his house, Comcast charged him twice for an additional  modem he did not have.

He decided to to cancel his service from these bozos in Oct. 2013,  but says a Comcast rep convinced him that the billing issues would be resolved and that he would get free DVR service and The Movie Channel for three months as compensation. I’ve been there, with DirecTV…except that my satellite service actually did what it said it would. Not Comcast, apparently. It sent Conal O’Rourke about a dozen pieces of equipment that he never ordered and didn’t want–DVRs, modem, standard boxes other stuff—and billed him $1,820 for it. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Workplace

The Harvard Law Student’s Formula For An Ethical Life

Yes, I hate my job, and yes, my clients are the scum of the Earth, and yes, my life sucks. But think of all the kids I can help get de-wormed!

Yes, I hate my job, and yes, my clients are the scum of the Earth, and yes, my life sucks. But think of all the kids I can help get de-wormed!

When I heard about the Harvard Law Record’s essay by law student Bill Barlow titled “Want To Save The World? Do Biglaw,” I mistakenly  assumed that he had made a persuasive, or at least coherent, utilitarian argument. After all, some fairly distinguished blogs took notice, and set about rebutting him. I was shocked when I actually read the piece. From what I can tell, Barlow understands nothing he was writing about—not the profession of law, not charity, not careers, not values, not law firms, not ethics, not money, not life. Why is someone who thinks like this in law school? What are law schools accepting people capable of writing this? Why is Harvard allowing someone this naive and shallow to display a Harvard degree?

This is literally all there is of substance to the article:

“So there you have it—be a corporate lawyer, donate 25% of your post tax income to charity, and save 150 lives a year, or de-worm 25,000 kids.  Alternatively, go into Public Interest, Government, or Academia, and feel warm and fuzzy about yourself.  Sadly, when people at this school talk about public service, they mean the latter, rather than the former.  If only people applied the same amount of cognitive skill used in just one LSAT logic game to the most critical question of what to do with their law degree, hundreds of lives could be saved.”

Ugh. Where to begin? Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Charity, Childhood and children, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Workplace