ICYMI-Legal Source: Why the Oscars’ Mishandling Feels so Familiar
In case you missed it, longtime business and employment litigation attorney Peter J. Glennon, who represents both employers and employees in legal disputes, weighs in on the ongoing story regarding Will Smith’s attack on Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars and the response by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sharing what businesses can learn from all of this.
–The response from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to the attack by Will Smith at this year’s Oscars is reminiscent of poor company management.
After the attack, the Academy did not react at all, allowing Smith to remain seated in the front row, even after he continued his improper behavior by yelling and cursing at the host. It then allowed him to remain and accept his Oscar.
Only later, when it became clear that wasn’t tenable, it stated on social media that the Academy does not condone violence, even though the world already witnessed that it indeed allowed violence.
After realizing that error, it announced an investigation, which is many times just another statement made hoping to calm the waters. But every reasonable person is wondering what is being investigated because the entire world witnessed the attack or viewed it on Twitter afterward. There is a reasonable amount of distrust now in the Academy.
Employment laws are likely not at issue for the Oscar attack, unless a relevant contractual clause existed. But what can businesses learn from this?
First, companies should have clear, known policies for violence in the workplace. We often hear of zero-tolerance policies for sexual harassment. Do they also have zero tolerance for physical assault? Employees must have a safe place to work and feel safe in their environment.
To maintain that culture, swift action must be taken in the workplace. With something as visual as an attack in front of others, management should contact the authorities and have the attacker removed from the premises, if not arrested. Additionally, it would be wise for companies and the victim to seek a protective order to keep the attacker off company property in the future.
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