- An Old Navy employee said that while Queer Eye was filming in her store, employees of color were told to work in the back while white workers brought in from other stores worked in the front by the cameras.
- Old Navy said no employees were selected to appear on camera based on race.
- Netflix said it had nothing to do with Old Navy’s staffing decisions, but noted that an African-American manager did appear on camera.
- Cast member Tan France echoed their statement and said he would not have allowed Old Navy to send people of color to the back.
Old Navy Employee Writes Facebook Post
An employee at a Philadelphia Old Navy claimed that workers of color were sent to the back of the store during the taping of an episode for Netflix’s Queer Eye.
Monae Alvarado wrote a Facebook post on Aug. 21, alleging that white employees from nearby stores were brought in to work at the Old Navy in Center City, Philadelphia, the store she usually works at. She said that most of her store’s employees are people of color and added that they worked overnight to get the store ready for filming, only to be hidden later on.
“Today they brought all these workers from other store around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white,” she wrote. “They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store. The shade I tell you.”
Alvarado’s post has since received a lot of online attention, with over 2.6 thousand likes and almost as many shares. After it spread its way across the Internet, Alvarado wrote a comment adding more details to her story.
“I tried to get on the floor a few times but was shooed away,” she said. “I was told to go to the back of the store near the register where most of my co-workers were.”
She added that one employee asked to stay upstairs in the back by the toddler and baby section, while another was sent to the fitting room.
“The rest of us were just standing in the back with nothing to do,” her comment continued. “They didn’t want us to move around while they were in the store filming. Even if my co-workers don’t mind, Old Navy is supposed to be a company that accepts ethnic diversity and they should show it. Unfortunately pushing their non-white employees out of sight for a white washed TV publicity show is not accepting ethnic diversity but it is just the opposite: prejudice, racism and discrimination.”
Monae was not the only Old Navy employee to say they experienced this. Two others, who chose not to be named, spoke to Philadelphia Magazine. One said they were under the impression they would be on camera once the cameras arrived.
Another said they “felt the racism” once they were told to go to areas of the store they usually do not work in.
“It became clear that we weren’t going to be filmed because we hadn’t been asked to sign consent forms,” the employee added. “And they made it a point to keep us as far away from the cameras as possible. Most of the staff and managers at our store location are black.”
Outrage Sparked Online
As this story gained more traction, it sparked online outrage. One user said that whoever is responsible for this “needs to be fired.”
Another accused the critically acclaimed Netflix show of whitewashing.
Some also called for a boycott of both the show and the store.
Old Navy and ‘Queer Eye’ Respond
Old Navy’s corporate office responded to the incident in a statement to Philadelphia Magazine.
“At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging,” the company said. “We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera.”
Old Navy added that it did bring additional employees to the store to make sure everything ran smoothly, as the building was still open to customers during filming. The company said employees were also aware that they could appear in the background of the show.
“These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population,” the statement continued. “We would never select employees to participate – or not – based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company.”
Netflix gave a statement to NBC 10 where they said they “had no knowledge or influence on Old Navy staffing choices while filming in a Philadelphia-based store this past week.”
Netflix also said that an African American manager was featured on camera for a styling consultation.
Tan France, Queer Eye’s fashion expert, also spoke up about the situation in a comment on Alvarado’s post. The comment came from an unverified account, however, France did share it on his Instagram story to confirm that it was him.
“This is Tan,” the comment read. “I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight, but what i can tell you is that there no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC to the back.”
“I should also mention that I had one person join me on camera, from Old Navy,” France added. “She was african american. This is the last I will say on this matter.”
According to NBC 10, Alvardo spoke to Old Navy’s HR and the situation is under investigation.
See what others are saying: (NBC 10) (Philadelphia Magazine) (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Facebook Is Reviewing More Than 2,200 Hours of Footage for Next-Gen AI
The project, which could prove to be revolutionary, is already raising some big privacy concerns.
Facebook’s Next-Gen AI
Facebook announced Thursday that it has captured more than 2,200 hours of first-person video that it will use to train next-gen AI models.
The company said it aims to make the AI, called Ego4D, capable of understanding and identifying both real and virtual objects through a first-person perspective using smart glasses or VR headsets. In effect, that could potentially help users do everything from remembering where they placed forgotten items to recording others in secret.
Facebook listed five key scenarios the project aims to tackle and gave real-world examples of how each may look for people who will eventually use the AI.
- “What happened when?” With that scenario, Facebook gave the example, “Where did I leave my keys?”
- “What am I likely to do next?” There, Facebook gave the example, “Wait, you’ve already added salt to this recipe.”
- “What am I doing?” For example, “What was the main topic during class?”
- “Who said what when?” For example, “What was the main topic during class?”
- “Who is interacting with whom?” For example, “Help me better hear the person talking to me at this noisy restaurant.”
Facebook said the amount of footage it has collected is 20 times greater than any other data set used by the company.
In the wake of recent controversy surrounding Facebook, it’s important to note that the footage wasn’t reaped from users. Instead, the company said it, and 13 university partners, compiled the footage from more than 700 participants around the world.
Still, that hasn’t alleviated all privacy concerns.
In an article titled, “Facebook is researching AI systems that see, hear, and remember everything you do,” The Verge writer James Vincent said that although the project’s guidelines seem practical, “the company’s interest in this area will worry many.”
Vincent pointe out that the AI announcement doesn’t mention anything in the way of privacy or removing data for people who may not want to be recorded.
A Facebook spokesperson later assured Vincent that privacy safeguards will be introduced to the public in the future.
“For example, before AR glasses can enhance someone’s voice, there could be a protocol in place that they follow to ask someone else’s glasses for permission, or they could limit the range of the device so it can only pick up sounds from the people with whom I am already having a conversation or who are in my immediate vicinity,” the spokesperson said.
Among positive reception, some believe the tech could be revolutionary for helping people around the house, as well as for teaching robots to more rapidly learn about their surroundings.
FDA Issues Its First E-Cigarette Authorization Ever
The authorization only applies to tobacco-flavored products, as the FDA simultaneously rejected several sweet and fruit-flavored e-cigarette cartridges.
FDA Approves E-Cigarette
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an e-cigarette pen sold under the brand name Vuse on Tuesday, as well as two tobacco-flavored cartridges that can be used with the pen.
This marks the first time the FDA has ever authorized the use of vaping products. In a news release, the agency said it made the decision because “the authorized products’ aerosols are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data.”
“The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products — either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption — by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals,” the agency added.
The company that owns Vuse, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, also submitted several sweet and fruit-flavored pods for review; however, those were all rejected. While the FDA did not specify which flavors it rejected, it did note that it has yet to make a decision on whether to allow menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, including ones sold under Vuse.
FDA Is Reviewing All Vape Products Still on the Market
In January 2020, the FDA banned pre-filled pods with sweet and fruity flavors from being sold. While other e-cigarette related products, including some forms of flavored vapes, were allowed to stay on the market for the time being, they were only able to do so if they were submitted for FDA review.
The FDA’s primary issue with fruity cartridges stems from statistics showing that those pods more easily hook new smokers, particularly underage smokers.
In fact, in its approval of the Vuse products, the FDA said it only authorized them because it “determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth, provided the applicant follows post-marketing requirements aimed at reducing youth exposure and access to the products.”
While some have cheered the FDA’s decision, not everyone was enthusiastic. Many critics cited a joint FDA-CDC study in which nearly 11% of teens who said they vape also indicated regularly using Vuse products.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Wall Street Journal) (The Washington Post)
Kaiser Permanente Health Workers Vote To Authorize Strike Over Pay, Staffing, and Safety
The vote could inspire unioned Kaiser workers in other states to eventually approve strikes of their own.
Workers Approve Strike
Over 24,000 unioned nurses and other healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente hospitals voted Monday to authorize strikes against the company in California and Oregon.
The tens of thousands of workers who cast a ballot make up 86% of the Kaiser-based healthcare professionals represented by either the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) or the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. An overwhelming 96% voted to approve the strike.
According to both unions, the list of workers includes nurses, pharmacists, midwives, and physical therapists.
The vote itself does not automatically initiate a strike; rather, it gives the unions the power to call a strike amid stalled contract negotiations between Kaiser and the unions. If the unions ultimately tell their members to begin striking, they will need to give a 10-day warning.
The California and Oregon contracts expired Sep. 30, but several more Kaiser-based union contracts are rapidly approaching their expiration dates as well. That includes contracts for more than 50,000 workers in Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, Washington state, and D.C. Notably, the demands from those workers echo many of the demands made by California and Oregon’s union members.
At the center of this potential strike are three issues: staffing problems, safety concerns, and proposed revisions to Kaiser’s payment system. For months, nurses have been publicly complaining about long shifts spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing shortages, and an over-reliance on contract nurses.
Because of that, they’re seeking to force Kaiser to commit to hiring more staff, as well as boost retention.
But the main catalyst for any looming strikes is pay. According to UNAC/UHCP, Kaiser wants to implement a two-tier payment system, which would decrease earnings by 26% to 39% for employees hired from 2023 onward. On top of that, those new employees would see fewer health protections.
The unions and their members worry such a system could lead to an increased feeling of resentment among workers since they would be paid different rates for performing the same job. They also worry it could exacerbate retention and hiring issues already faced by the hospital system.
Additionally, the workers want to secure 4% raises for each of the next three years, but Kaiser’s currently only willing to give 1%, citing a need to reduce labor costs to remain competitive.