Getting fired is awful, but a $69 million severance check can help make things a little bit less traumatic. You know, enough money to tide you over until you can find a new job.

That's the rumored amount of Megyn Kelly's payout after NBC fired her from Megyn Kelly Today. Kelly said she didn't think "blackface" was any different than any other Halloween costume. 

Halloween costumes have become controversial as of late, but blackface isn't something that is newly offensive. It's been considered inappropriate for a very long time.

I defended the idea, saying that as long it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed OK. Well, I was wrong and I am sorry.

I have never been a 'PC' kind of person, but I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity. This past year has been so painful for many people of color.

The country feels so divided, and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor, and I want to be part of that.

The apology, however, wasn't good enough and Kelly is gone. 

And don't think just because your business is small and not in the spotlight that you don't need to worry about offensive things, you do. Halloween is next week, and if your staff plans to wear costumes, you need to set the rules.

Employment attorney Eric Meyer said, specifically about this incident:

Remember, that Halloween isn't a 'get out of jail free card' to offend co-workers based on [insert protected class]. Plus, even if you don't perceive your costume to be racist, your intent is immaterial. If it offends a co-worker and would otherwise offend a reasonable person in your co-worker's shoes, the law considers your costume racist.

 While being uptight about a Halloween costume probably isn't the best for your blood pressure, it's also important that you set some ground rules for costumes--especially if your employees haven't shown good judgment on such things in the past. 

Generally, good ideas are to ban anything that has "sexy" associated with it, anything disgusting, and anything likely to make Twitter explode should an employee or customer tweet a picture. The whole world is their own PR firm now, so don't assume that what happens behind closed office doors will stay that way. 

Employee costumes should also allow employees to work effectively, not be dangerous (for instance, long wigs or feather boas that could get caught in equipment, says employment attorney Jon Hyman), and doesn't make fun of the boss--unless you want to join Megyn Kelly on the unemployment line. Not that she'll actually go there--she'll be too busy counting her severance dollars.

Published on: Oct 26, 2018