Readers of this blog may be well aware of the recent stories emerging about the alleged sexual harassment perpetrated by Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly. According to reports, Fox News has paid out approximately $13 million over the last several years to settle five claims of sexual harassment perpetrated by O’Reilly. Now, the network has fired O’Reilly.
But, many are questioning the extent of work cultures that foster sexual harassment. A quick glance at the news shows that other major companies, including Uber and Sterling Jewelers, have faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment, which may mean that sexual harassment policies are not having the deterring effect they are intended to create. And the way that employers choose to handle claims of sexual harassment can further a sick culture that allows sexual harassment.
For example, many companies choose to pay money to settle sexual harassment claims, leaving the offender in their position. This gives the impression that the perpetrator has been protected and that the matter has been covered up. Far too often, this leaves these offenders feeling as if they can act inappropriately again with little or no consequences. Many experts agree that to truly get rid of sexual harassment, perpetrators need to be immediately punished, which may include termination. This sends the message that the behavior will not be tolerated, and it leaves the victim feeling like they have been protected.
Sexual harassment alone can be enough to demean a worker, but matters can be made worse when a victim is retaliated against for reporting such incidents. This could lead to missed promotions, decreased hours, demotion, and even firing. With so much on the line, those individuals who are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace should do everything they can to recover their damages and break the culture of sexual inappropriateness at work. For many victims, this means obtaining the assistance of a skilled attorney and taking legal action.
Source: NPR, “Fox News Turmoil Highlights Workplace Culture’s Role In Sexual Harassment,” Yuki Noguchi, April 19, 2017