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Fox News case highlights workplace sexual harassment

California readers may have heard that television news anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment complaint against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes on July 6. The case serves as a reminder that, even in 2016, sexual harassment is still a reality for many American workers.

Carlson claims Ailes made inappropriate sexual advances toward her while she was employed as a Fox News anchor. She also claims she endured sexist behavior from co-anchor Steve Doocy. Fox says it is conducting "an internal review on the matter," and Ailes issued a statement denying Carlson's allegations.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act defines sexual harassment as conduct that creates a hostile workplace due to the severity of a few acts or the pervasiveness of less severe acts. According to surveys, around one in four women have experienced sexual harassment on the job, but the true number may be much higher. This is because many victims are afraid to speak out, which could cause them to lose their jobs or be stigmatized by colleagues and friends. Other reasons women may not report workplace harassment include a general lack of understanding about what constitutes sexual harassment and weak employer policies on the issue.

Experts say that employees who want to report incidents of sexual harassment should first notify their employer using workplace protocols. If the situation is not rectified, victims of sexual harassment may find relief by speaking to an attorney about their legal rights. An attorney could explain how to properly document incidents of harassment and build a strong case. The lawyer could also help file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Source: USA Today, "Sexual harassment still a reality in the workplace," Charisse Jones, July 7, 2016

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