The business world is far from perfect. C-suites are still dominated by men, many industries still struggle with ingrained sexist attitudes, and even we at Cracked still refuse to employ anyone without an extensive criminal record. But at least these days, most companies are trying to improve. This cannot be said for all of them, however. For instance ...
Did you know that women menstruate? Yes, the rumors are true! But this was apparently news to Georgia's Bobby Dodd Institute, given what happened to Alisha Coleman. In 2015, she was going through pre-menopause, which can sometimes produce irregular and heavy periods. This caused her to leak menstrual fluid onto her chair, and she told her supervisor rather than try to blame it on the creepy IT guy and his weird rituals. The understanding fellow then warned her that if an uncontrollable and unexpected natural process made her "soil" something again, she would be fired.
For some reason, Coleman's reproductive system didn't listen to the warning, and the same thing happened a few months later. True to their word, the Institute fired her for failing to "practice high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a clean, neat appearance while on duty." We guess that's exactly the kind of heartless attitude you can expect from a ruthless, uh, nonprofit that helps people with disabilities find work.
Coleman opened a court case which was initially dismissed because Title VII doesn't cover menstrual symptoms unrelated to pregnancy. But she appealed and received a settlement in 2017 on the legal basis of "It turns out vaginas do exist."
In 2018, the Houston Astros traded for elite closer Roberto Osuna, despite the fact that he had just finished a 75-game suspension for domestic violence. While he may have assaulted the mother of his child, his fastball is really good. The Astros were criticized for welcoming Osuna into their ranks, but countered with the compelling argument that employing an abuser could "raise awareness."
Jump ahead to 2019, when the Astros, clearly the wokest team in the league, defeated the Yankees in the ALCS (that's the semifinals, for those of you with more Magic cards than baseball ones). During their celebration, assistant general manager Brandon Taubman stared down three female reporters while repeatedly shouting, "Thank God we got Osuna! I'm so fucking glad we got Osuna!"
Now, Osuna's sole contribution to the win was to blow a save, which is the exact opposite of what a closer is paid to do. So to the reporters and the Astros staff member who felt compelled to apologize to them, the outburst felt aggressive and targeted. It was, at the very least, a moronic PR blunder, but one that probably could have been smoothed over. After Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein wrote about the incident, the Astros could have issued a boilerplate apology, maybe tossed in some shit about the "heat of the moment" or how it was an "educational opportunity" for Taubman. Big organizations like the Astros pay people solely to handle these kinds of incidents with a deft touch.
And so the Astros issued a statement that, uh, called the story "misleading and completely irresponsible," and accused Apstein of attempting to "fabricate a story where one does not exist." Yes, the Astros looked at Trump's "fake news" screeds and thought, "We should emulate this popular and well-respected man." The ploy worked for all of three days, until piles of witnesses came forward to corroborate Apstein's account and the Astros were forced to fire Taubman and finally issue an apology, all while looking much stupider than would have if they had just owned up in the first place. But at least that was the last mark against the franchise ... until a couple of months later, when they were caught in baseball's biggest cheating scandal since goddamn 1919.
B&H Photo was founded in 1973, and went on to become one of New York City's most successful businesses despite never advancing through time with the rest of us. In 2016, the Department of Labor hit them with a lawsuit alleging that their hiring practices for warehouse jobs caused the "complete exclusion of female employees and the near exclusion of black and Asian employees." They did hire Hispanic workers, but they were paid less than white employees and were "subjected to racist remarks, degrading comments and harassment at the worksite." Oh yeah, and they had to use their own "separate, unsanitary and often inoperable restrooms," which is the gold standard for racism.
B&H disputed these claims, but this wasn't the first time they'd been accused of having policies that would make any Confederate-flag-wielding customers proud. In 2007 they paid a $4.3 million settlement after a suit accused them of underpaying Hispanic workers and basing promotions and health benefits on "national origin." In 2009 they were sued for discriminating against women. And in 2011 they were sued over their treatment of Hispanic workers again, because apparently that 2007 settlement came with the condition that they wouldn't have to reflect on their actions in any way.
Even with this impressive history, segregated bathrooms felt like a new low, and a 2017 settlement segregated B&H from 3.2 million of their dollars. And that was that ... until 2019, when they were accused of failing to pay $7 million in sales taxes. Jesus Christ, isn't there anywhere else in New York to go for camera equipment?
Amid the #MeToo movement, when companies everywhere were rushing to teach proper workplace behavior, the accounting titan Ernst & Young boldly stood up and swore to make a difference by telling their broads to get in line. EY's "Power-Presence-Purpose" seminar taught female executives how to thrive in the modern workplace, whether it was keeping their nails immaculate or choosing clothes that wouldn't "scramble the mind" of their male colleagues. Finally, a major corporation willing to say that it takes two to have a harassment scandal!
Women were asked to rate their masculine and feminine traits, with the former including "athletic, self-sufficient, and leadership abilities" while the latter had "childlike, gullible, and yielding" (women of course famously lack object permanence). A list of "Invisible Rules" for women suggested that they not talk too much, interrupt men, or God forbid, challenge their ideas. Women were also told that their brains were smaller and "absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it's hard for them to focus. Men's brains are more like waffles. They're better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square." But don't get hysterical, ladies! Your head isn't really full of syrup, it was only a metaphor!
If you squint real hard, you can maybe see an attempt at "Here's the shit you'll have to put up with in a male-dominated industry," but the seminar was written like its creator's only experience with an office was binging Mad Men. There was no talk about how to challenge and overcome these stereotypes, with the information instead being presented as rules they'd better not break if they wanted to fit in. One participant left feeling like she wouldn't be successful if she didn't play into the cliches, while another walked away feeling "like a piece of meat."
So now's probably a good time to mention that in 2013, an EY employee rejected a 2 a.m. overture for drinks and thrilling opportunities to take clients to strip clubs, after which she was told she was "being perceived as a bitch." But according to her supervisor she at least also had "great big round boobs" and a "nice ass." A 2015 complaint led to embittered EY bros starting a campaign to get her fired, all of which culminated in a legal battle in which EY's office culture came out looking inferior to the progressive paradise of Saudi Aramco. So yeah, their "Here's How You Uppity Dames Should Act" initiative was somehow an improvement.
Jordan Myles may sound like the name of your least interesting teacher, but he's a wrestler who worked with WWE's NXT brand, right up until some events you're going to learn about a couple of sentences from now. Wrestlers get a cut of their merchandise sales, and so it was in everyone's interest to start slinging Myles shirts. He signed off on a prototype and the WWE went ahead, although they did make one minor change without his consent. But surely there was no way he could be upset about the white background he approved being changed to bla- oh, holy shit.
Not seeing the problem? Let's try a side by side.
Yeah, they (accidentally?) made a blackface shirt. The chorus of disapproval was led by Myles himself, and it wasn't a great look for a company that had recently rehired Hulk "Whatcha Gonna Do When The Racial Slurs Run Wild?" Hogan the previous year. The shirt was never sold, and the WWE hastily whipped up a Space Jam ripoff alternative, but the damage was done. A bitter public argument ensued, Myles left for an independent wrestling circuit, and the WWE was left looking like clueless assholes. No one won! It's a metaphor!
Michael Battaglino is a contributor to Cracked.com. Be sure to check out some of his other work if you enjoyed this article.
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