We all have rights in the workplace. We’re entitled to a minimum wage, certain regulations requiring a lunch break and, in some cases, payment for overtime worked. Perhaps one of the biggest rights all workers have is the right to be free from discrimination and harassment. Discrimination can take many forms, including age, gender and race, and it can alter the path of your career if it goes unchecked. The same holds true for harassment. Many may think that such egregious actions as sexual harassment couldn’t possibly occur in their line of work, but one need only look at one recent case that grabbed headlines to see just how prevalent of a problem sexual harassment can be.
Those who watch the news with any regularity are probably well aware of allegations of sexual harassment being levied against Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly. The one-time top cable man is now out after an internal investigation at Fox News uncovered a whole host of incidences of alleged sexual harassment that span years. O’Reilly said he was disheartened by the move, especially since his belief is that the claims are unfounded.
What is even more troubling is the fact that Fox News and 21st Century Fox appeared to be sending the message that a culture of sexual harassment is acceptable so long as it is out of the public eye. Prior to the O’Reilly ouster, Roger Ailes, a former Fox executive, had been fired for multiple reports of sexual harassment. Yet, even though Ailes’s conduct was brought to light, Fox continued to stand by O’Reilly. Over the course of his career, Fox helped O’Reilly settle with five of his accusers and even extended his contract post-allegations.
Sexual harassment is never acceptable. Speaking out against it can be difficult, especially when an employer seems to turn a blind eye. However, victims of sexual harassment can quickly get their current or former employer’s attention by taking legal action and shining a light on improper behavior. Whether a worker has been subjected to unwanted sexual advances or lewd comments, he or she may be able to recover compensation for any damage that has been caused.
Source: The New York Times, “Bill O’Reilly Is Forced Out at Fox News,” Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt, April 19, 2017