Allegations of sexual harassment have become a commonplace claim in work settings as of late. The most recent story that has blazed headlines is conservative news channel Fox News' decision to fire Bill O'Reilly due to new civil complaints from women claiming the anchor acted inappropriately towards them. These lawsuits are not the first of their nature filed against O'Reilly. Since 2002, the network has already settled five claims against the host, totaling to an amount of $13 million altogether. Fox News' apparent reluctance to let the wildly successful host go has caused many to notice the ongoing issue with many American corporations: a tolerance for sexual harassment.
Unfortunately, Fox news is not the only business with far-too-common instances of sexual harassment. These allegations have also surfaced at massive ride sharing company Uber, and Sterling Jewelers - which owns the Kay, Jared and Zales chains. Each of these companies has taken steps to make these issues go away, some methods have been more effective than others. For example, Uber has hired a former attorney general to investigate claims of sexual harassment, while Sterling's parent company continues to deny that the allegations have any merit. But the problem may be more deep rooted than most companies are willing to admit. Experts say that recurring sexual harassment claims in the workplace transpire because they may be ingrained in the company's culture. More importantly, these companies, through their tendency to condone or refuse to acknowledge these allegations, could be perpetuating such behavior.
When Fox News' letter regarding O'Reilly's firing leaked to the public, spectators couldn't help but notice the new station's attempts to undermine his inappropriate actions. Despite the accumulated allegations surrounding his whole career at Fox, a letter written by higher ups declared him “one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news.” It went on to praise him, stating that “his success by any measure is indisputable.” These weak attempts to change its culture confirmed in the minds of many that a more accountable workplace will only come into fruition when those at the top decide it will. The people who wrote this letter are the same ones who offered these women hush money to drop their case, which shows that they rather hide these issues than deal with the root cause. The former CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, has faced several sexual harassment accusations, to put things into perspective.
Longtime human resources manager, Jeff Owens, has dealt with several sexual harassment claims over the course of his career. He says that how these matters are handled sets the precedent for future behavior. Owens also mentioned that taking the time to educate employees of workforce policies, procedures and repercussions is crucial.
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in your workplace, you do not have to remain silent. With the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, you can sustain a peaceful and respectful work environment and hold those acting inappropriately accountable. Contact Benassi & Benassi today to get the justice you rightfully deserve.