EntertainHR: No Laughing Matter – A Lesson in Hiring Discrimination from Katt Williams’ Viral Interview

Comedian and actor, Micah “Katt” Williams has officially broken the internet.

Katt’s viral interview on former NFL star Shannon Sharpe’s, podcast, “Club Shay Shay,” has been viewed over 50 million times (and counting) since it aired on January 3, 2024. The interview has earned so much buzz that even Saturday Night Live could not pass up the opportunity to spoof the interview.

Katt Williams
Club Shay Shay (Courtesy of YouTube)

In the nearly three-hour long interview, Katt took shot after shot at his fellow comedians and other celebrities. Over the course of the sprawling interview Katt made the following incredible claims (among many others):

  • He is responsible for a rape scene being removed from the movie Friday After Next;
  • Kevin Hart is an industry plant with a manufactured career;
  • Ludacris became a member of the Illuminati in exchange for his role in the Fast and Furious franchise;
  • Cedric the Entertainer stole one of his jokes in the ‘90s;
  • Steve Harvey’s hair from his The Steve Harvey Show days was really a “man unit” (hairpiece);
  • Harvey Weinstein offered to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for movie roles;
  • Chris Tucker had a relationship with Jeffrey Epstein; and
  • As a child, he read 3,000 books in a year and could run a 4.3 40-yard dash.

It is unclear which of Katt’s claims are true versus exaggerations or outright fabrications. In the days after the interview aired, the internet put its collective detective abilities to use to try to verify his outrageous allegations.

Interestingly, very few people who were caught in Katt’s crosshairs have come out with direct denials. Notably, Ice Cube denied the accusation that there was ever a rape scene in the script for Friday After Next. Also, Ludacris responded with a freestyle rap, naturally.

Whether or not Katt’s accusations are true, the interview was highly enlightening and entertaining. It allowed the world to get a closer glimpse into Katt’s background, approach to his craft, and relationship to others in the industry. It also highlighted Katt’s practices as an employer.

In one segment of the interview that has not garnered as much attention as some of his more salacious statements, Katt revealed that he hires women only for his staff other than for a few unidentified specific roles. Katt may be inadvertently opening himself up to a possible discrimination claim.

So, what is wrong with what Katt said?

In most instances, an employer may not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity). There is a limited exception to the probation on discrimination based on sex, religion, or national origin called the bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).

The exception exists for the very rare instances in which a person’s sex, religion, or national origin may be necessary for the normal operation of the business (e.g., religious institution hiring only members of the religion as clergy, only hiring females to model female clothing, hiring females only for select prison guard positions in women’s prisons). Katt’s personal preference for being surrounded by women will not suffice.

I would advise Katt and all other employers to be careful not to let their preferences, without legitimate justification, lead them into a discrimination claim.

Alyce Ogunsola is a counselor at FordHarrison.

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