From the salacious, to gender pay disparity, to “fire the old geezer.” Boy, the New York Times today was chock-a-block with employment discrimination stories.
Let’s start, of course, with the salacious.
I have always advised that best employment practices start from the top down – a tone must be set from the top. But what if the CEO is the one accused of racism, anti-semitism and telling an employee that she should be raped into submission? To this humble practitioner this doesn’t seem to set a good standard of behavior.
My partner Amy Epstein Gluck wrote the other day about the lawsuit just filed against Gustavo Martinez, the CEO of J. Walter Thompson, who allegedly told his female CCO “that another female employee should be ‘hogtied’ as well as raped into submission. When the CCO objected to such comments, Martinez, raised in Spain, allegedly said that American women were too sensitive.”
The Times now reports that Martinez just “handed the reins” of the company to Tamara Ingram, who gave the perfunctory shout-out to Martinez: “There is no doubt that Gustavo and the leadership team have created real momentum. I am sure many of you would like to join me in thanking him for the enormous energy and commitment he put into the agency.”
She might have added that the good Gustavo has perhaps singlehandedly shone a real spotlight on industry-wide employment discrimination, since the Times noted that “[t]he accusations against Mr. Martinez have reverberated across the advertising industry and raised questions about Madison Avenue’s culture. Some in the industry say the lawsuit underscores the lack of gender and racial diversity in the advertising business.”
And as one marketing consultant noted, the agency portrayed in the lawsuit “will absolutely be in the consideration set when someone might be thinking about moving on, they have another opportunity or people are thinking about going there.”
Now to gender pay disparity.
In an in-depth article entitled “As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops,” Claire Cain Miller reports that “Women’s median annual earnings stubbornly remain about 20 percent below men’s.”
“It may come down to this troubling reality, new research suggests: Work done by women simply isn’t valued as highly. … there was substantial evidence that employers placed a lower value on work done by women.”
Although women “are now better educated than men, have nearly as much work experience and are equally likely to pursue many high-paying careers,” the new research “found that the difference between the occupations and industries in which men and women work has recently become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it. In fact, another study shows, when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the very same jobs that more men were doing before.”
A good article to read and store away.
Finally to the “old geezers.”
Elizabeth Olson focuses her report, entitled “Claims of Age Bias Rise, but Standards of Proof Are High” (or as the print edition titles it “Put Out To Pasture With Little Recourse”), on Ohio State non-tenured professors over 50 who have been unceremoniously terminated allegedly because of their age.
They discovered an email from their boss which stated that they were “an extraordinarily change-averse population of people almost all of whom are over 50, contemplating retirement (or not), and it’s like herding hippos.”
Olson writes that this “confirmed an increasingly sour atmosphere at Ohio State. Veteran teachers … began to see younger, less experienced people promoted instead of them. And that was only the beginning of what [they] describe as a yearslong pattern of age discrimination and retaliation that affected their teaching duties, pay, working conditions and even retirements.”
They sued for age discrimination under the ADEA. But Olson notes, correctly, that these cases are hard to prove.
By the way, since longtime readers know that I like to parse lawsuits and court decisions to discover the different ways in which older employees have been disparaged because of their age (providing them with much-needed direct evidence of age discrimination), I appreciated Olson reporting that the emailing Ohio State boss allegedly called one employee “an old lady who can’t walk,” and another “the Grim Reaper,” and referred to other older workers as “dead wood” and “millstones around my neck.”
I guess he does not anticipate ever getting older.
Or he has not yet considered that he too may someday be put out to pasture.