Professor Placed on Unpaid Leave for Refusing to Take Part in Sexual Harassment Training

Posted by on Dec 9, 2008 in Gender Discrimination, People In the News, Sexual Harassment

By Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
Alexander McPherson is a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at UC Irvine. He was a recently stripped of his responsibilities and placed on unpaid leave because, as he described in his column “The Sham of Sex Harassment Training” Los Angeles Times, (11/28/08) “I have consistently refused, on principle, to participate in the sexual harassment training that the state and [his] employers seem to think is so important.
Well, McPherson’s employer is not the only employer to realize that sexual harassment training is important. In fact most public and private sector employers provide sexual harassment training.

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Remembering the stories of Studs Turkel

Posted by on Nov 1, 2008 in People In the News

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than topor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”
— Studs Turkel, 1912 – 2008
I’ve just heard that Studs Turkel passed away last night. What a loss!!
Maybe this isn’t exactly an employment law topic, but I think I can tie it in…. Studs Turkel wrote one of my favorite books, “Working.” I read it back in college (long before I thought about being an employment lawyer), and it has stuck with me ever since. Studs Turkel’s talent was to talk to everyday people and find what was interesting in their lives. In “Working,” he interviewed people of all professions, chambermaids and bankers, bus drivers, and maybe even a lawyer. (I don’t actually remember that one). I once heard Studs Turkel interviewed on NPR. He was asked whether he had to interview hundreds of people to come up with one of the interesting stories he told in “Working.” He responded, “No, everyone has a story.”
Actually, I think that is why I love being an employment lawyer. Everyone does have a story. Each employee has a story, and each business does too. Employment law is very personal, and gives me a chance to hear the stories of others. Maybe I won’t ever write those stories quite like Studs Turkel, but this work does give me a chance to appreciate the stories and to incorporate them into the briefs I write.
Now, if you haven’t read it yet, go to the library and check out “Working.” Some of the professions profiled might be a little dated. (The elevator operator in a department store comes to mind.) But the essential humanness of the stories is timeless.
Studs Turkel, your memory will live on.

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