More allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News

Posted in Sexual Harassment on January 11, 2017

In the midst of the scandal-ridden 2016 election season, one media company was facing its own scandals. Readers may remember that in July 2016, Roger Ailes was forced out of his position as chairman of Fox News over sexual harassment allegations made by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson. After those allegations were made public, other women admitted (publicly or anonymously) that they, too, had been sexually harassed by Ailes.

It now seems as though the culture of sexual harassment at Fox News was not just limited to Roger Ailes. The New York Times recently reported leaked documents about a confidential lawsuit (and settlement) alleging sexual harassment by Fox’s top on-air personality, Bill O’Reilly.

According to the news article, a long-time Fox contributor named Juliet Huddy alleged that in 2011, Mr. O’Reilly tried numerous times to pursue a sexual relationship with her. When she turned him down, he allegedly tried to derail her career.

Executives for Fox reportedly reached a settlement (said to be in the high six figures) with Ms. Huddy just a few weeks after Ailes was ousted. Neither the lawsuit nor its settlement terms were meant to be public knowledge, but the Times received copies of documents sent anonymously which were later authenticated by individuals with knowledge of the situation.

Ms Huddy also made similar allegations against Jack Abernethy, a longtime Fox executive. In a letter from her lawyers, Ms. Huddy said that Abernethy had also tried to pursue a romantic relationship with her, and engaged in professional retaliation when she rebuffed him.

While workplace sexual harassment can be isolated to a single perpetrator and a single victim, it is often the case that sexual harassment is common in certain workplaces. This is one reason why it is so important for company owners and executives to enforce anti-harassment policies. If sexual harassment is tolerated in any measure, it can quickly become the norm.