As of late, FOX News has been scrambling to overcome their damaged reputation as a breeding ground for crusty old womanizers. Sexual misconduct allegations have all but trashed the careers of two of their shining beacons, Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes, and now, yet a third contender for the biggest “asshole” award has emerged from their ranks. Who should be surprised it is none other than political correspondent Sean Hannity. Recent allegations, which he of course denies, have Hannity paddling up the same creek as his co-hearts.
Whether or not these allegations of sexual harassment can be proven in a court of law has made little difference to Fox shareholders. Advertisers fearing their affiliation with the network could create negative repercussions, severed their relationships with FOX immediately following O’Reilly and Ailes’ negative public backlash which has impacted the investor’s only concerns, the bottom-line.
Because FOX is a major news source in the eyes of the public, these harassment allegations against their star-studded cast of characters quickly spread to the inquiring masses wanting to learn more. But what about smaller virtually unknown companies? How do they measure up? Are they just as guilty, if not even more so?
First, it’s important to know what are government considers sexual harassment in the workplace. According to an article published by CBS News, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior that is so “severe or pervasive” that it affects the victim’s employment. Harassment can be peer to peer, supervisor to subordinate or third-party (vendor, customer or patient to an employee).
Companies who make it a habit of ignoring sexual harassment claims have discovered the expense of doing so. The EEOC has recovered an estimated $164.50 million for workers who challenged their employers. For each affected employee, organizations lose roughly $22,500 due to non-productivity caused by sexual harassment in the workplace.
Please understand, a friendly compliment about someone’s attire, or even asking them out for a drink after work, does not constitute harassment. Touching, making sexual innuendos, continually asking for a date once a person has firmly said no, and any other abrasive or demeaning action lacking common sense, are the brass rings for a harassment suit.
It’s interesting to note that not all not allegations are made between members of the opposite sex. Same sex advances are on the rise, and they are not always made by men against women. Any inappropriate action regardless of gender or sexual orientation is equally as repulsive, and equally as punishable.
If you are the victim or have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, your rights are protected. Take the initial step by reporting it. Be pro-active. It’s the only way America stands a fighting chance at reducing the number of incidents.