The Inbox, Pre-Turkey Week Edition

| William A. Schreiner, Jr.

Sex – or allegations of sex – and breakfast food seemed to dominate the world of employment disputes involving executives this week. There’s more than one joke there, but at Suits-by-Suits we’re lawyers and not comedians, so we’ll let the news speak for itself: 

  • Waffles:  The CEO of southern food chain Waffle House denied allegations that he forced a former employee to have sex with him, contending instead that her allegations were an attempt at extortion:  “I am a victim of my own stupidity, but I am not going to be a victim of a crime,” Joe W. Rogers Jr. said, according to this article in Salon.  Almost sounds like a tale that could wind up in a twangy song on one of the chain’s signature jukeboxes. 
  • Pancakes:  Twenty-two women who were allegedly sexually harassed by an IHOP manager will divide up $1 million – the amount paid to settle an EEOC case against one of the chain’s franchisees.  The franchising company will also provide better training.   

All we need is some toast and bacon.  But instead we have these two notes, both relating to Morgan Stanley:

  • The Phone Is Not For You: The investment bank is not entitled to a former employee’s iPhone, according to a New York State appellate court.  A lower court ordered William Atha to turn his iPhone over to Morgan Stanley, which sued financial adviser Atha after he left for AllianceBernstein.  But the appellate court agreed with Atha that turning over his phone might violate his privacy rights; it also held the trial court should have given Atha a hearing on the issue. 
  • Reimbursement Please: Morgan Stanley is also in the news for filing suit against Joseph Skowron, a former managing director of FrontPoint (which the bank acquired in 2006).  Morgan wants Skowron to pay it the $33 million that it had to pay the SEC to settle claims Skowron used non-public information to trade stock.  “Doctor-turned-stock-picker Skowron” has already been sentenced to five years in prison and order to pay $5 million.  

And finally two news notes on employment issues that can affect executives and their companies, and that we cover regularly:

  • This Darned Social Media Business: Here’s a Law360 report on a social-media-at-work survey by the Proskauer Rose law firm.  Proskauer concludes “Having a social media policy that explains both acceptable and unacceptable usage puts employees on notice of what they can and can't do, potentially preventing missteps. And it also makes it easier for the employer to show that any disciplinary actions are taken lawfully.”  We would agree – we’ve covered the difficult issues raised by social media here, here, here and here. 
  • The Price Is…Um, $8 Million: Pregnancy as an employment issue, it seems, is all around – more than stinkbugs in Washington or love for Mary Tyler Moore a/k/a Mary RichardsLaw360 reports that on Wednesday, former “The Price is Right” model Brandi Cochran asked a jury for more than $8 million, claiming the game show’s producers had “a ‘dirty little secret’ of hostility toward pregnant models.” We’ve never seen an amount that high on the great game show’s famous dollar wheel We have, however, written about the issues that pregnancy can raise for executives and companies – and offered some views on how to avoid those issues – here, here, here, and here.