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Sexual harassment bad for business, bottom line

In the last year, workplace sexual harassment has garnered much attention from the public and the press. Hollywood scandals and the #metoo movement fueled press coverage and at the same time emboldened victims of harassment to come forward. Companies on the wrong side of such employment law cases have learned quickly that protecting those who engage in sexual harassment can drive away customers and paying out claims to victims eats away at the bottom line.

Two respected Detroit companies have come to this realization the hard way in recent months. A prominent local news anchor, the TV station for which he worked, and the station's parent company have all been sued by a former reporter. The reporter leveled allegations that the anchor sexually harassed her, attempting to cajole her into performing sex acts, and sending inappropriate text messages.

In the other case, one of Ford Motor Co.'s top executives was ousted after the company disclosed that he had engaged in inappropriate behavior. The company discovered the incident leading to the ouster after receiving an anonymous complaint. The exec was fired after a thorough internal investigation. The company did not mention any pending criminal or civil matters, but it certainly may risk exposure to the latter.

Cases such as these highlight the need for businesses to be proactive in rooting out and elimination harassment and other behaviors that create a hostile work environment. At the same time, they should serve to encourage victims to come forward and stand up for their right to be free from such behavior. Anyone who feels they have been harassed at work or subjected to a hostile work environment should contact an experienced employment attorney who can explain options and help determine the appropriate course of action.

Source: The Detroit News, "Maddox removed from on-air duty amid harassment," Robert Snell, Mar. 6, 2018

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