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Bill O’Reilly and Fox News teach us how not to ignore workplace harassment

By: Jon Hyman

April 13, 2017

Bill O’Reilly’s (alleged) lewd comments and inappropriate come-ons may have finally caught up to him and his employer, Fox News. I don’t, however, want to focus my attention on the salacious allegations, which are just that, allegation. Instead, I’d like to focus on Fox News’s response to the allegations, as to why it has so dragged its feet to do anything in response.
 

I’ll let John Oliver explain only as he can.

Jon Oliver

Fox News’s full statement (via CNN):

Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.

Yes, Fox News did ultimately investigate these allegations, but it appears not until way after the fact.

Readers, is it appropriate to ignore workplace harassment just because no one has brought it HR’s attention? I’ll give you two choices — “no” or “no”.

Under no circumstances should you ever bury your corporate head in the sand in the face of workplace harassment. You must not ignore harassment that you know about or should know about. It is not a defense for you to close your eyes and hope that it will all be gone when you open them. Just ask Fox News (which, according to The New York Times, has settled the claims of five women for $13 million) how that strategy has worked out for it.

This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer's Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at jhyman@meyersroman.com, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.

By: Jon Hyman

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