“Porn Star” is not a protected class.

by Meredith on February 8, 2012

I meant to hit “Save Draft” and not “Publish” yesterday morning. I’m sorry if you’ve already seen this in your readers. But that explains some of the emails I have received supporting me. Thanks for those.

***

When things go quickly south, there are two things you can do. Well, maybe there’s more than two, but I can only think of two right now.

1. Fight

2. Flight

I am not sure what this is.  Maybe it’s just venting. But I was asked if maybe I should change or remove something I had written, and I will not. So maybe this is fighting, or maybe it’s just a response stating that I stand by what I wrote.

I wrote this post for an HR/Recruiting website.  It’s about my encounter with a porn star applicant. Just so you know, this is the most difficult place for me to write.  There is so little I feel comfortable divulging about life in the HR trenches. But I really didn’t bat an eyelash at this topic.

Would I ever hire a porn star? This is a popular question among HR people.  And I was actually faced with it.

Was this a male porn star? Was this a woman porn star? Did it happen recently or some time ago?  That doesn’t matter.  Just know it happened, and sometimes in HR, you cannot give all of the details.  But the situation in the article remained the same. The situation was, would you hire someone that your employees have figured out is a porn star?

No.

I’m not a fan of my employees seeing each other naked.  I’m really not a fan of my employees seeing each other naked, performing sex acts. And since she was pointed out to me, and I was told by an employee (more than one employee) to look this person up, IT IS MY OBLIGATION TO MY COMPANY TO LOOK HER UP! Obviously they were uncomfortable enough to tell me about it.  If HR is hearing about it, it must be a concern. Employees aren’t often asking you to Google porn stars.

So I did.

And there it was.  I saw everything. Like, EVERYTHING.

Can you imagine how much trouble I would have been in if my employees began spending their days looking her up online and talking about it? Can you imagine how the lines get blurred about what it might be okay to say to someone and not say to someone when the did porn for years and years and years?

It’s my job to make sure I think about these sorts of things. It’s my job to protect my company and not put us in these situations where unprofessionalism seems so easy. It’s my job to evaluate risk.

So you’d think I could share this story with other HR people, they would all chuckle, and they would all say that they would do the same thing. They would say that they also not hire this person (because I can guarantee that’s what they would do).

That isn’t what happened at all. Apparently, porn stars deserve a second chance, and this clearly means I hate women. And people in wheelchairs (their words – not mine – being in porn must be protected by the ADA – I need to look into that).

I want to go on the record and tell you all, being a porn star is not a legally protected class.  And if you’re ever thinking of being in porn, please do it under a different name. Someone can legally not hire you for that reason alone.

I didn’t feel like I was revealing some dirty little HR secret, but apparently I did. Great HR people don’t like to hire people that seem risky to our businesses. That has nothing to do with being a certain race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or having a disability.  It has everything to do with seeing you perform during an orgy.

Look, I have some of the most beautiful women in the world working here.  They leave their clothes on.  The lines aren’t blurred. I don’t have to worry about them being more readily harassed.

I have no problem hiring beautiful women. I would NEVER hire a porn star. If that means I suck at HR – then I suck. I should totally be fired.

*but I won’t get fired for this*

*only HR people are blackballing me*

I’m not going to comment anymore on that post I wrote. I am just going to let it ride because they look so incredibly stupid in the comment section arguing that I should have hired her.

They are talking about how dumb I am for sharing that story in the first place.  They think I only shared (and some of them think I made it all up) the story for the sake of traffic to Fistful of Talent. They think I am disgracing HR Managers everywhere by being so honest in my (apparently made up) thought process.  They say I’m appalling for not hiring a porn star out of fear that she may open us to harassment lawsuits.  They say I have committed career suicide.

I mean, seriously… THE POST IS ABOUT NOT HIRING A PORN STAR THAT WE HAD ALREADY SEEN GIVING BLOWIES!

Am I only the only one in the world that sees a problem with this?  Have we become so desensitized that we now think it’s okay to do porn without real life consequences? Do we really think that employers have to bring that sort of risk into the workplace? Even after employees have voiced a concern? And since when are HR Managers and Hiring Managers the new advocates for the porn industry?

WHAT UNIVERSE AM I LIVING IN?

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

JustinRHoffman

I just find it interesting because those are the same HR people that wouldn’t hire people for social media practices (Facebook pictures, tweets, whatever the scandal may be). Which I completely understand, if all you see of the applicant is shots of tequila and bathroom mirror pics, you’re going to second-guess their work ethic.

But if I was hiring between a girl who bonged a beer two years ago in college and a girl who was a porn star and DIDN’T EVEN CHANGE HER NAME, the girl who bonged the beer wins for sure.

For me, it was the name that did it. Like… you used your real name… in porn.

I do hope this girl gets a second chance and finds a career she loves. Just with, you know, A NEW NAME. And maybe some hair-dye…

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Meredith

^^^THIS^^^

You had better believe they are preaching all day long about who they won’t hire because of the smallest thing. But bring in a porn star, and everyone in HR becomes her 12 step program. They just love everyone no matter what consequences may come from it.

Guess what?

I don’t.

I’m super picky and judgy because that’s what I get paid to do and plenty of people need a job. So I can afford to be choosy.

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Becky

If companies can refuse to hire a person based on traffic violations, Facebook pictures, credit scores and bad references why are porn stars exempt? In the sales industry, she might make a killing, but the wives of the men sitting across her desk from her would be uncomfortable and the elephant in the corner would be holding a sign that reads “Has he seen her naked?”

We are free to make our own choices but we are not free from the consequences of those choices.

I think you did the absolute right thing. And apparently so do your bosses as you are not standing in the Unemployment line with the porn star.

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Meredith

Nope. Today, I still have a job. Probably because I am passionate about protecting them (like I am supposed to do).

I hope I get to keep my job for a very long time. I am very fortunate to work at such an awesome company.

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Jennifer

Consequences suck, but we all have to live with them.

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Meredith

Truth.

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Jennifer

After I commented I went over and read the other post, and I have to say that as an Auditor I agree with your decision 100%. All employees of an organization are responsible for risk management and that’s all you were doing, managing the risk. That’s just good business.

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Meredith

Thank you very much! It feels good to hear that from someone that lives and breathes risk aversion.

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Crystal

Dude…at my company, I can be fired for a FRIEND writing on my Facebook wall and saying my company sucks, so I’m pretty sure I would be fired is I started doing porn. I’m pretty sure I would have never been hired if I had done it beforehand.

Although I don’t work in HR, I can totally see your point about the harassment. If someone can watch this person get banged in her butthole, how are they to know what is inappropriate to say? Is there anything too inappropriate to say to a woman who showed the world what she looks like with semen on her face? Yes there are a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean everyone is gonna use common sense all the time.

I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that she didn’t have any experience in sales, so that alone means she is unqualified for the job. Sure, she should be allowed to work in mainstream society, and since all those other HR people feel you should have hired her, send them her application and allow them to offer her a job.

Sorry for the super long comment, but trust me this is the short, edited version. You are 500% right for not hiring her.

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Meredith

“Is there anything too inappropriate to to say to a woman who showed the world what she looks like with semen on her face?”

Yes, in any workplace besides a pornography set. However, I am willing to bet that this EXACT thought would cross… well… ANY NORMAL PERSON’S MIND!

And there’s the problem.

Thank you for having common sense.

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Kelly Revenaugh

Would it be different if she was hired as a file clerk or something out of the public eye? Probably not. But I’m assuming it *definitely* added weight to your decision.

I’m glad you’re staying strong with your initial opinion. Sounds like you’re having a ‘IS THIS REAL LIFE?!’ moment.

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Meredith

No, we only have about 150 employee right now. So everyone knows everyone. It wouldn’t matter. Maybe if she worked from home? Maybe. But I don’t have anything like that as a job.

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phenom1984

You’re a Pornist.

There, I said it.

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JustinRHoffman

She’ll see she’s on the wrong side after the Million Porn Star March on Washington.

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phenom1984

We may need to stage a research pilgrimage.

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Meredith

I’ll make the flyers for you guys. We have a color copy machine at my work.

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Brittany

Meredith, you can’t use company ink for porn.

Meredith

Oh, yeah. I forgot.

phenom1984

DAMN The Man! Oppressors.

Dawn

Can you imagine how hiring her would affect the reputation of your company? Was she applying for a sales position? How many people would come in to look for a vehicle, only to waste her time (and the company’s) because thye had no intention of buying? They only wanted to see her in person and try to get a date or whatever. And another thing-how on earth do companies make character judgements of a potential employee based on credit checks, but not based on their actions-such as being a porn star? I think you did the right thing, what was best for your company and employees.

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Meredith

Reputation of the company is HUGE. Especially in high-end retail.

And yes, customers could say things as well as employees, and we would be on the hook for that as well. That’s the law.

My employees were not into hiring a porn star. THEY told me to look her up (now, I would have done that anyway because I always do once we get further in the application process), but they MADE me look her up. They don’t want to work with a porn star anymore than I want them to work with one.

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Leigh Anne

Thank God you didn’t hire that person! HR folks can be way overcautious….present company excluded, naturally. There’s a “common sense” aspect to the personality of great HR folks. You have it. Others don’t.

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Meredith

COMMON SENSE. BINGO!

And their overcautiousness is what can lead them to bigger issues. Like total disregard.

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Erin @ Miss Lifesaver

I don’t work in HR, but I completely side with you on this one. What was this girl thinking, using her real name like that?!

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mamaschinsky

I was on the fence about this one, until you pointed out the two biggies.

1. She used her real effing name IN PORNOGRAPHY. A LOT (from what it sounds like). Shouldn’t that be sort of a given? She should’ve just made up something raunchy like Velvet Cherry or something equally porny and very obviously not a REAL name.

2. Multiple employees of yours recognized her (and knew exactly the right name to search) from her just coming in for an interview. If she was on the floor full-time, how disruptive would that have gotten?! Husbands would be in trouble with their wives, people might avoid the dealership altogether just because being around a porn star makes them uncomfortable, not to mention the one you brought up – everyone ELSE in the company would end up looking her up, and I totally do not blame you for not wanting employees to see each other naked.

If something happened at a company party, where everyone was getting drunk and crazy, and one of your other female employees ripped off her clothes and “put on a show” for everyone, you would fire her, right?

Maybe I’m going off the deep end, so I’ll stop. Suffice it to say I totally, 100% support you, and I don’t know how anyone can make the jump from not hiring someone because everyone who comes in contact with her in what is supposed to be a PROFESSIONAL setting can watch…all of her…in…those ways, to saying you wouldn’t hire someone who’s disabled.

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Jayme (The Random Blogette)

I read this on the Fistful of Talent site and I was just amazed at how they were bashing you. I agree with what has already been said here. The funny thing is that I bet most of those bashers would do the exact same thing if they were in your shoes. Plus, as you did state, you found someone MORE QUALIFIED.

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Meredith

THEY ALL WOULD DO THE SAME THING!

They are so concerned with sounding PC all the time, that they don’t even realize they are talking about a porn star. Stop being PC and be honest! There are people that seem like a really, really bad idea to hire. Like people that were paid to have lots and lots of sex for money, that are easily found online, that have already been recognized and pointed out.

Their thinking is this: Let’s just leave the business unlocked at night and leave all the keys in the cars and the laptops on the receptionist desk. No one will steal them. We should trust people to do the right things!

It’s insanity!

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Untypically Jia

My brain is overloading with innuendos that would be used in the workplace should you hire a porn star. The car ones alone are shutting my brain down. It’s awesome.

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Meredith

Is this a stick shift car?

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Untypically Jia

Can you check under my hood.
Let me pop your clutch.
Nice headlights.
I’d like to take a ride in this.

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phenom1984

Lotsa head room in this one.
Plenty of junk can go in this trunk.
Think of all you can do in this back seat!
Does it come with a jack?

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chrinphx

Oohh…tough call, but the right decision. This got a great conversation going here in the office, and we all came to the same conclusion.

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Rachel

Wait, did she put the porn on her resume? Because…um…I really don’t have anything to say.

If she has changed her name, wears regular clothes and has great work experience (outside of the porn) I don’t see why hiring her would be a problem. But to put it out there? With her normal name? Weirdo!

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johannamaria

You wrote that the woman seemed smart. And even if she wasn’t that bright, she no doubt knows that when you do porn it makes future employment harder. Especially if you’re using your real name (who does that?!).

So, I would guess that the resume came from daddy in the first place because she knew very well that she might have difficulties finding a job, and needed any reference she could get.

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johannamaria

…And I guess what I was trying to say was that she is not a victim of anything other than her own poor judgement. You choose to do porn, you deal with the consequences. I just read your original post and HOW can those people not see it!? EVERYONE is responsible for their own actions, including porn stars. It’s something you choose.

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Kenny

1) I need you to PM me all the info so i can verify she is indeed a porn star

2) It’s a shame that someone can be un-employable solely on the actions of others. What I mean to to say is you say you are not hiring not because she isn’t qualified, or deomonstrates the skills and work ethic to do the job. If I am reading right your sole reason for disqualifying her is because everyone else couldn’t be mature about it.

I am not getting on your case. However, there could be a bigger picture to it. Consider this MANY women in the porn industry are there the result of manipulation and circumstance. Maybe this woman was trying to break free. Maybe she realized she didn’t want to do porn and wanted to change her life. Who knows, but in reading this it seems to me she did not come to you and announce she was a porn star. Your words say the other employees “Figured” it out. This seems to me that this is a part of her life that she wants to put behind her. The fact that this woman used her real name only lends more to her naivete.

Yes, you have every right not to hire her if you feel she will not be a good fit to your organization. However, I am curious to know what the bigger picture is here. I guess I am just thinking this is someone trying to change their life that they will be punished for the rest of their lives by person such as yourself not being able to look past the porn star. It’s almost like saying I am not going to hire her because she will be sexually harassed, and that’s OK because she was a porn star.

Personally I would hire a porn star who was qualified and was willing to work hard.

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johannamaria

The problem with this is, anything could be down to “manipulation and circumstance” instead of plain old “poor judgement”. HR managers are also wary of hiring ex-drug addicts as well as someone who has been convicted of armed robbery, however the drug addict may well have been manipulated in to using, and the armed robber was just a victim of circumstance, trying to feed his five starving kids and sick wife when no one would help them. See what I’m saying here? If we’re giving everyone second chances and benefit of doubt in here like this (ex-?)porn star USING HER REAL NAME, shouldn’t you just stop asking questions and basically hire anyone that’s qualified, regardless of their background?

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EJ

1. I love your blog. I stumbled on it from “Sultier Nation”.
2. I read over your post of FOT and found the comments about how you “exercised poor judgement” when googling a candidate or whatever crap they were saying. I would like to point out that that Rep. Darrell Issa banned a woman from speaking on the women’s health panel in congress based on a quick google search. HIS decision was wrong (he is also an a-hole) but he had the right to google her. You can google anyone these days and look them up on facebook. It’s almost to the point that it’s required.
3. Apologies for beating a dead horse.

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