Friday, March 18, 2011

Prof. Shimmy and the Hubba Hubba Revue - COTW #32

Sheila Addison is a former assistant psychology professor at JFK University in California... she's also "Professor Shimmy" in a San Francisco burlesque show called the Hubba Hubba Revue. And to top it all off, she's also the Lawffice Space employment law Case of the Week!

Prof. Addison/Shimmy was terminated, allegedly via letter indicating that her alter ego night-act was the reason for her termination. The school claims she brought "public disrespect, contempt, and ridicule to the university." Her response? She filed this complaint in federal court in the Northern District of California.

She alleged multiple counts under California state contract and labor law, but she also filed suit under Title VII for sex discrimination and "harassment for failure to conform to gender norms." She claims a male professor "was performing in a one-man play . . . which included disrobing and partial nudity on stage" but was never disciplined.

Important lesson for employers: Treat all of your nude (or partially nude) employees the same or you might wind up in court! Another interesting aspect of this case is the professor's claim for discrimination based on political activity (which is apparently protected by California law). Per the Complaint, the Hubba Hubba Revue provides "political and social commentary on gender, sexuality, and body image stereotypes."

Never a dull moment in employment law! Below is a video purporting to be Professor Shimmy along with Twinkletoes McGee (yeah, I sense deep social commentary coming already!). It does not contain nudity but still may not be safe for work.



If the video is not displaying properly, click here to view online.

Hat Tip: Mason law classmate and fellow employment lawyer Derek Bottcher of Paul Hastings for passing along an Inside Higher Ed article on this story from earlier this week.

If you have a hot tip on a potential Case of the Week please contact me!

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.