Providing Opportunities To All Staff Members Is Important For Preventing Charges Of Discrimination

A black actor who co-starred in the 2009 film "Couples Retreat" is suing Universal Pictures and the now-defunct Relativity Media for breach of contract, fraud, and violation of California's Civil Rights Act.

In his lawsuit, the actor accuses Universal of "whitewashing" the advertising campaign. He alleges that Universal removed the photo of him and his black co-star from the movie poster that was used to promote the film internationally. The poster featured the other three couples in the film, who were all white.

The actor further alleges that Universal executives failed to make good on the promise they made to him to stop using the image and to offer him more acting jobs to make up for the offense, which is why he has filed his suit now.

The lawsuit states that the actor has "come to learn that Universal Studios' willful discrimination against him is emblematic of Universal Studios' (and its affiliated companies') systemic bigotry against its employees, Black actors, on-screen talent and athletes."

The actor said in a statement, "Social justice issues raised this year further galvanized my commitment to enter the fray and speak up for myself and for all Black actors by filing this lawsuit." Anousha Sakoui "'Couples Retreat' actor's suit accuses Universal Pictures of 'whitewashing' ad campaign" latimes.com (Nov. 25, 2020).

Commentary and Checklist

Prudent family employers make certain that all staff members are presented the same opportunities of employment regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran, or other protected class status.

Employment opportunities can include rate of pay, benefits, training, opportunities for advancement as well as opportunities involving experiences.

For example, if only staff members of a certain race or color are allowed to travel with the family, then that creates a disparity as to the other staff members of a different race or color. 

Here are some additional tips for to help prevent discrimination:

·      Create and enforce a well-written policy prohibiting discrimination.

·      Provide annual training to management staff on preventing discrimination.

·      Quickly investigate all reports of discrimination.

·      Take decisive remedial action when discrimination occurs.

·      Be sure to protect those who make claims of discrimination from retaliation.

·      Promote an inclusive culture in the workplace by fostering an environment of professionalism and respect.

·      Establish neutral and objective criteria to avoid subjective employment decisions based on personal stereotypes or hidden biases.

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