The Female Sexual Harrassment Scandal that Spread in Silicon Valley [e71]

July 23, 2014

Nasir and Matt talk about the recent Yahoo sexual harassment claim involving two women and answer, “Why is it that manufacturers refrain from mentioning one another in their advertisements (eg. “Tide cleans better than these other brands – bunch of white bottles with no labels”)? This is observed with, well, basically every niche of the commercial market, with two exceptions I’ve regularly noticed, Pepsi vs. Coke and cars.”

Full Podcast Transcript

NASIR: Welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business.
This is Nasir Pasha.

MATT: And this is Matt Staub.

NASIR: And this is our business legal podcast where we cover business in the news and also answer some of your business legal questions that you, the listener, can send in to ask@legallysoundsmartbusiness.com and also follow our Twitter account where you can also ask questions @askbizlaw. I want to say “askbizlaw.com” but it’s just “askbizlaw.”

MATT: I don’t think we have that one.

NASIR: Twitter.

MATT: Yeah.

NASIR: We probably have the dot-pizza one.

MATT: Are you asking people to send their questions via Twitter?

NASIR: Yeah, that’d be cool.

MATT: That’s tough – limited number of characters.

NASIR: That’s true. I didn’t even think about that but we’re also accepting questions on Reddit. That was cool. We do that every week. We do an AMA. I have lots of options for you. If you have a short question, Twitter is good for it.

MATT: They’ll have to find out who we are on Reddit, I guess. It should be pretty obvious.

NASIR: Search “Legally Sound Smart Business” and then we should come up.

MATT: All right. Well, we have a pretty interesting story for today because it deals with a lot of different things going on.
It’s a Yahoo executive. She and Yahoo in general are being sued by a former principal software engineer for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Now, we’ve talked about similar things in the past but it’s typically been a male superior and the lawsuit’s been brought by a female – I don’t want to say…

NASIR: Inferior. Uh, subordinate.

MATT: A female employee.
Now, we have a female executive or superior and also a female employee. That’s a little bit different. Also, typically, with these there’d be some sort of reaction from the company. Yahoo is just straight up denying any of this happening and is very strong in their stance.

NASIR: Yeah, that seems unusual.

MATT: Yeah, I won’t get into the specifics of this unless you want to, but we’ll link the article so they can read because there’s a lot of accusations made. This also is taking place in another country, too, I believe, right?

NASIR: I don’t think so. I thought it was still in California. I know the suit’s in California so I assumed it’s in California but maybe not. We’ll take a look. But, you know, what’s interesting about this is, well, first of all, again, Silicon Valley is another scandal when it comes to the workplace environment. We covered Tinder. There’s this other case with a Google executive who overdosed on heroine on his yacht and some kind of killing as well. Silicon Valley is just being hit with a lot of issues right now. But I think what people may find significant – and this isn’t the first time that it’s happened – it’s when you have a female supervisor that’s being accused of this. I think people need to understand that these issues, when it comes to sexual harassment and wrongful termination, they stem from having power over another. That’s the main issue and that’s the main concept of employment law protections because, when you have an employee, they’re in your control as opposed to an independent contractor where the control is a little bit more loose. But, when you have an employee, because of that control, you have certain obligations that you may not have as a non-employer and I think, even though people generally understand this, they may not understand the significance and how much they could become liable, especially in California, for things like these.

MATT: Yeah, the important thing here is pretty much every example we’ve ever talked to or any example you’ve ever heard of deals with a male superior but the thing to keep in mind with this is just because it’s a female superior doesn’t mean that she can’t get in trouble as well. It does work both ways. You just don’t hear about it as much. I’m guessing it happens less frequently as well.

NASIR: And I’m sure, even when it does happen in those circumstances, it’s just as or if not more difficult for those employees to bring up the cause of action and I’m sure there’s double standards all across the board. That’s the world we live in and I’m sure that plays out in the courtroom as well, you know, when it comes to a jury and so forth. But the point is that the law applies the same in either case.

MATT: Right, and the point you made about power is very important to think about and something that all executives should keep in mind because they might let it get to their head. But the other thing I wanted to talk about which I mentioned at the beginning was Yahoo’s response. I think, when something like this happens, a company can do one of two things. They can either take some sort of action – whether it be suspension – I mean, worst case scenario, the termination of the person who’s being accused. Or they can do what Yahoo did and just outwardly deny it – just full denial, saying it’s all bogus.
You don’t see this too often with companies. Yahoo is a big company and this is a serious allegation. You don’t see big companies like this taking this sort of stance very often.

NASIR: Yeah, I had to get into some of the details here. It’s pretty detailed in the article that we’ll link. But there are issues regarding these two employees. They moved to California. They moved into an apartment together – separate rooms and so forth. They weren’t a couple or anything like that. But then, they did have some relations at home and then that may have been brought into the workplace. But the real problem is that this person being accused was a supervisor and was her supervisor. When she complained and was terminated, that creates a huge number of problems. Again, this fact pattern – whether it’s a female or female or not – is the exact same fact pattern that you see over and over again across other sexual harassment lawsuits and wrongful termination.

MATT: Yeah, because there’s these things you just shouldn’t do. I would say living with a…

NASIR: Subordinate?

MATT: Not a good idea. We talked about the Tinder issue and some other ones in the past. You can get by with dating someone that you work with but it’s more times than not not going to work out.

NASIR: All right. Well, I think we covered that issue to death. Or we should just do a sexual harassment lawsuit every week which will be very easy to find.

MATT: Yeah.
[MUSIC]

MATT: All right. Well, let’s go to the question of the day.
“Why is it that manufacturers refrain from mentioning one another in their advertisements? Example, ‘Tide cleans better than these other brands.’ A bunch of white bottles with no labels. This is observed with, well, basically every niche of the commercial market with two exceptions I’ve regularly noticed – Pepsi versus Coke and the car industry. So, why do most of these commercials not mention their direct competition?”

NASIR: I don’t know if the premise is right because I think there’s plenty of people that do comparisons but I think the main purpose of doing all that is to not mention your competition because you give them more brand recognition. But, with Pepsi versus Coke, Coke knows everyone knows Pepsi and Pepsi knows everyone knows Coke, but being able to differentiate and attack your competition is a little bit better. A good famous one is AT&T and Verizon – they’re always going at each other. Even the legal restrictions aren’t too bad because, for example, you could even use the competitor’s logo in your commercial just as Verizon and AT&T and Pepsi and Coke have to each other because it’s part of the fair use. There’s no confusion of who this commercial is for. Any kind of association or endorsement. In fact, you can just make fun of them and it’s part of the fair use law. So, generally, they’re legally free from doing it – with, you know, certain exceptions and so long as they’re not misrepresenting what the other company does then they should be fine.

MATT: I think my answer to this, from the legal perspective, is the commercials that don’t actually mention who the competition is, I think they’re worried about some sort of lawsuits. I think their legal team just didn’t fully inform them of what they’re allowed to do in the commercials. That’s my legal answer. My other answer is, if they mention their competition, the competition is just going to do another commercial mentioning them.

NASIR: That’s possible.

MATT: Maybe it’s going to be worse than the commercial that they did. That’s my legal answer and non-legal answer to this question.

NASIR: Also, I think, when I see a Tide commercial and they do what he mentioned – those general white bottles with no label and this is the competitor’s brand – at that moment, I have trouble thinking about what the competitor is. You know, what is the competitor of Tide? Do you know? I can’t think of one.
I think, just psychologically, certain brands have association when it comes to soft drinks. Everyone knows what the soft drinks are – Pepsi and Coke. Everyone knows which cars there are – you know, as far as car manufacturers. Maybe that’s me – because I don’t buy my own detergent. Maybe that’s the issue.

MATT: I really don’t watch commercials either.

NASIR: Yeah, that’s also an issue. You could be right. But, from a legal perspective, like we said, I don’t think there’s much restriction.

MATT: We have a lot of leeway with this.

NASIR: Yeah, even saying that you’re better, I think that’s fine.

MATT: Yeah.

NASIR: That’s just a matter of opinion.

MATT: Yeah.

NASIR: That Tide cleans better than these other brands, for example.

MATT: Yeah.

NASIR: All right, I think that’s very good. Appreciate your question for that.
Thank you for listening.

MATT: Yeah, and we will just bash some other podcasts while we’re here – well, not bash but we’ll mention them.

NASIR: Actually, one thing that is true is our podcast is better than our competition or our competitors’ podcasts.

MATT: That’s true. That’s very true. I’ll agree with you on that.

NASIR: Who our competitors are, I have no idea, and neither do you because that’s the point.

MATT: All right, before this gets too out of hand, I will say keep it sound and keep it smart.

Legally Sound | Smart Business

By

The Podcast Where Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub cover business in the news with their legal twist and answer business legal questions that you the listener can send it to info@legallysoundsmartbusiness.com.

Get Business Legal Updates

Please provide your full name.
Please provide a valid email address.
We respect your privacy, and we will never share your information. Unsubscribe at any time.
Legally Sound Smart Business cover art

Legally Sound Smart Business

A business podcast with a legal twist

Legally Sound Smart Business is a podcast by Pasha Law PC covering different topics in business advice and news with a legal twist with attorneys Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub.
Apple Podcast badge
Google Podcast badge
Spotify Podcast badge

Latest Episodes

October 12, 2021

In our latest episode, Nasir and Matt are covering the legal issues on Social Media. The average person spends most of their day on social media, whether they are scrolling for hours or publishing their own content. However, just because you publish your own content on Instagram does not equate to you owning that image….

September 28, 2021

What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and when do I need one? In this episode, Nasir and Matt shares why you need to use Non-Disclosure Agreements, basic facts about NDA’s, and discuss about the infamous Jenner-Woods story. Having the right Non-Disclosure Agreement in place not only protects you and your business, but it also makes the…

July 14, 2021

Through a five-round championship bout, Matt travels to Texas from California to determine which state is better for business. Will it be a knockout with a clear winner or will it go to the scorecards?

June 16, 2021

Covered in this episode of Legally Sound Smart Business are some typical business mistakes blunders small businesses often make and how to avoid them. Blunder #1: Copying and pasting agreements It may sound like a good idea at the time, but this blunder comes with hidden pitfalls. Having an attorney draft terms that are specific…

February 4, 2021

How you terminate an employee can make the difference between a graceful transition to avoidable negative outcomes like a dramatic exit or even a lawsuit. We gathered a panel of experts and asked them – is there a “right way” to fire an employee? We would like to thank our guests for this episode: Amr…

December 2, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned nearly every aspect of life on its head, and that certainly holds true for the business world. In this episode, Matt and Nasir explain how the early days of the pandemic felt like the Wild West and how the shifting legal playing field left a lot open to interpretation and…

November 16, 2020

After plenty of ups and downs, our buyer has finally closed on the purchase of their business. While we’re marking this down in the ‘wins’ column, it never hurts to review the game tape. In this final episode, our hosts, Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha, return to the deal almost a year later to reflect…

September 15, 2020

The ink is drying on the signature line and things are looking great for our buyer. After so much hard work, the finish line is in sight and the cheering within ear shot.   Though the landlord is still serving friction, things seem safe to move forward and for now, our buyer will be keeping…

July 31, 2020

Though things are coming along well, the journey would not be interesting if it was purely smooth sailing. After our buyer opens escrow, they are forced to push the closing date back when suddenly a letter from an attorney was received claiming the business, we are buying has a trade mark on the name!  Now…

June 12, 2020

With frustration at an all-time high and professionalism at an all-time low, our friend the Buyer has “had it” with the Seller and quite frankly their lack of knowledge. At present our Buyer is rightfully concerned that the latest misstep from our loose-lipped Seller will threaten not only the entire operation of the businesses but…

May 11, 2020

As we go deeper into the buying process, we start to uncover more challenges from our seller and encounter some of the wrenches they are tossing our way. When we last left off in episode three our team was knee deep in due diligence for our buyer, had already penned and signed the Letter of…

April 4, 2020

One word–interloper! When a new mysterious broker enters the transaction and starts to kick up dust, Nasir and Matt take the reins. The seller signed off on the letter of intent (see episode 2), yet this “business broker” serves only friction and challenges by refusing to send financials, whilst demanding more of a firm commitment…

April 4, 2020

Just as most stories and deals start out, everyone is optimistic, idealistic and full of hope for clear skies. It’s a perfect outlook with a perfect setup for the ups and downs yet to come. Peek further behind the curtain and into the first steps of buying a business: the letter of intent. After the…

April 4, 2020

When a savvy buyer hears opportunity knocking to purchase a prime positioned business, she decides not to go it alone and taps in the professionals to help navigate what could potentially be a fruitful acquisition. “Behind the Buy” is a truly rare and exclusive peak into the actual process, dangers, pitfalls and achievements, that can…

August 7, 2019

GrubHub is subject to two “matters of controversy” that have likely become common knowledge to business owners: “fake” orders and unfriendly microsites.

May 28, 2019

In this podcast episode, Matt and Nasir breakdown the legal issues of the subscription industry’s business on the internet. Resources A good 50-state survey for data breach notifications as of July 2018. California Auto-Renewal Law (July 2018) Privacy Policies Law by State Why Users of Ashley Madison May Not Sue for Data Breach [e210] Ultimate…

March 12, 2019

In recording this episode’s topic on the business buying process, Matt’s metaphor, in comparing the process to getting married probably went too far, but they do resemble one another. Listen to the episode for legal advice on buying a business.

December 3, 2018

Nasir and Matt return to discuss the different options available to companies looking to raise funds through general solicitation and crowdfunding. They discuss the rules associated with the various offerings under SEC regulations and state laws, as well as more informal arrangements. The two also discuss the intriguing story about a couple who raised over…

July 24, 2018

Flight Sim Labs, a software add-on creator for flight simulators, stepped into a PR disaster and possibly some substantial legal issues when it allegedly included a Trojan horse of sorts as malware to combat pirating of its $100 Airbus A320 software. The hidden test.exe file triggered anti-virus software for good reason as it was actually…

April 17, 2018

Attorneys Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha examine Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings about the state of Facebook. The two also discuss Cambridge Analytica and the series of events that led to the congressional hearings, the former and current versions of Facebook’s Terms of Service, and how businesses should be handling data privacy. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR:…

March 10, 2018

The Trump presidency has led to a major increase in ICE immigration enforcement. It’s critical for business owners to both comply with and know their rights when it comes to an ICE audit or raid. Nasir, Matt, and Pasha Law attorney Karen McConville discuss how businesses can prepare for potential ICE action and how to…

February 5, 2018

New years always bring new laws. Effective January 1, 2018, California has made general contractors jointly liable for the unpaid wages, fringe benefits, and other benefit payments of a subcontractor. Nasir and Matt discuss who the new law applies to and how this affects all tiers in the general contractor-subcontractor relationship. Click here to learn…

January 2, 2018

With a seemingly endless amount of new mattress options becoming available, it is unsurprising that the market has become increasingly aggressive. As companies invest in more innovative solutions to get in front of customers, review sites, blogs and YouTube videos have moved to the forefront of how customers are deciding on their mattresses and how…

December 7, 2017

In recent months explosive amounts of high profile allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and varying acts of inappropriate behavior have transcended every sector of our professional world. With a deluge from Hollywood and politics, and the private workforce, accusations have inundated our feeds and mass media. This harassment watershed has not only been felt within…

November 16, 2017

If you are not familiar with the EB-5 program started in 1990 to give green cards to certain qualified investors in the United States, then you may not have been alone a few years ago. Currently, the EB-5 program has since exploded since its inception and now hits its quotas consistently each year. The program…

October 10, 2017

Government requests come in multiple forms. They can come in as requests for client information or even in the form of investigating your company or your employees. Requests for Client Information General Rule to Follow Without understanding the nuances of criminal and constitutional law and having to cite Supreme Court cases, any government requests for…

August 24, 2017

Nasir and Matt suit up to talk about everything pertaining to employee dress codes. They discuss the Federal laws that govern many rules for employers, as well as state specific nuances in California and other states. The two also emphasize the difficulty in identifyingreligious expression in dress and appearance, how gender-related dress codes have evolved…

June 28, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the life cycle of a negative online review. They talk about how businesses should properly respond, how to determine if the review is defamatory, the options available to seek removal of the review, how to identify anonymous reviewers, whether businesses can require clients to agree not to write negative reviews, and…

June 7, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Mattbreak down social media marketing withguests Tyler Sickmeyer and Kyle Weberof Fidelitas Development. They first discuss contests and promotionsand talk about where social media promotions can go wrong,when businesses are actually running an illegal lottery, and the importance of a soundterms and conditions. Next, they…

April 3, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Matt go in depth with the subscription box business. They discuss where subscription box companies have gone wrong(4:30), the importance of a specifically tailored terms and conditions(6:30), how to structure return policies (11:45), product liability concerns (14:45),the offensive and defensive side of intellectual property (19:00),…

February 1, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the suit against Apple that resultedfrom a car crashed caused by the use of FaceTime while driving. They also discuss howforeseeable use of apps can increase liability for companies. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR: Hi and welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business! I’m Nasir Pasha. MATT: And I’m Matt Staub. Two attorneys…

January 5, 2017

The guys kick in the new year by first discussing Cinnabon’s portrayal of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia soon after her death, as well as other gaffes involving Prince and David Bowie. They alsotalk about right of publicity claims companies could be held liable for based on using someone’s name or likeness for commercial gain.

December 22, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the recent incidentat a Victoria’s Secret store where the store manager kicked out all black women after one black woman was caught shoplifting. They then each present dueling steps businesses should take when employees are accused of harassment.

December 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt return to talk about the different types of clients that may have outstanding invoices and how businesses can convert unpaid bills to getting paid.

November 10, 2016

After a long break, Nasir and Matt are back to discuss a Milwaukee frozen custard stand that is now revising it’s English only policy for employees. The guys also discuss how similar policies could be grounds for discrimination and what employers can do to revise their policies.

October 6, 2016

The guys discuss the new California law that allows actors to request the removal of their date of birth and birthdays on their IMDB page and why they think the law won’t last. They also discuss how age discrimination claims arise for business owner.

September 29, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the racial discrimination claims surroundingAirbnb and how it’s handled the situation. They also discuss some practical tips for businesses experiencing similar issues.

September 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss whyAmazon seller accounts are getting suspended and banned without notice and how business owners can rectify this situation through a Corrective Action Plan.

August 25, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the accusations surroundingfashion giant Zararipping off the designs of independent artists like Tuesday Bassen and howsmaller companies can battle the industry giants.

August 18, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss Brave Software’s ad replacing technology that has caught the eye of almost every national newspaper and has a potential copyright infringement claim looming. They also welcome digital marketing expert Matt Michaelree to speak on the specifics of what Brave is attempting to do and whether it has the answers moving forward.

July 28, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson against Fox CEO Roger Ailes. They also talk aboutthe importance of sexual harassment training and properly handling such allegations in the office.

July 15, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the changes at Starbucks that have led to many disgruntled employees and customers.

June 23, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the criminal charges facing FedExinvolving the alleged transportation of illegal drugs. They also talk about how business owners should address working with customers that may be breaking the law.

June 15, 2016

The guys return after a long break to discuss why Yahoo is auctioning off over 3,000 patents and how this decision will affect the longevity of the company.

May 25, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the increase in the salary thresholdfor exempt employees and how employerscan try to avoid paying overtime as a result.

May 18, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the Baltimore law that makes it very difficult to operate food trucks in the city. They also discuss all the legal restrictions tohaving a food truck.

May 11, 2016

Matt listens to Nasir recap the developing battle in his hometown of Vandalia, Ohio over whether a Dunkin Donuts can move into a location in close proximity to a local favorite donut shop. They then discusswhether the issue is more legal or personal.

May 9, 2016

The guys kick off the week by discussing a Nevada employee who is claiming she was fired for not supporting the Scientology beliefs of her employer.

April 27, 2016

The guys discuss the massive floods in Houston,how employers responded, and why one meteorologist became a local hero. They also discuss the steps businesses should take in preparing for storms outside the workplace.

April 20, 2016

The guys discuss the boycott of Amazon over the products of an unnamed presidential candidate. They also talkabout how a business should handle a boycott and whether it’s possible to exit one unscathed.

We represent businesses.
That’s all we do.

Oh, and we love it.

We love our work. We love reviewing that lease for your new location. We thrive on closing that acquisition that nearly fell through. We’re fulfilled when we structure a business to grow, raise capital, and be legally protected.

We focus on developing close relationships with our clients by being like business partners. A partner who provides essential, personalized, proactive legal support.

We do all of this without utilizing the traditional billable hour model. You pay for the value we bring, not the time spent on calls, emails, and meetings.

Our team is made up of attorneys and staff that share these values and we are retained by clients who want the same.

Pasha Law PC operates in the states of California, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

Meet Our Team

Fractional General Counsel Services

Pasha Law Select offers the expertise of a high-end general counsel legal team for every aspect of your business at a fixed monthly rate. Pasha Law Select is deliberately designed to allow our legal team to be proactive, to anticipate, and to be comprehensive in serving our clients. To be great lawyers, we need to know our clients. We can’t know our clients unless we represent a select number of clients in the long-term. This is Pasha Law Select.

Learn More