The New York City Commission on Human Rights has fined Fox News $1 million over multiple claims of sexual harassment by former on-air personalities on the popular network.
The penalty stems from a 2017 investigation that began looking into rampant sexual harassment at the station. The network settled with the Commission, and as part of that settlement Fox agreed to require that all its New York-based staff and contributors participate in anti-harassment training. Fox will also temporarily halt a policy that requires those that made an accusation of sexual harassment to agree to binding arbitration.
A History of Sexual Harassment
Fox News launched in 1996 as an alternative news network providing what it described as a fair and balanced news option to the more traditional outlets. Despite criticism from its detractors, the network rose to prominence in the ratings, consistently becoming the top-rated cable news channel.
However, behind the scenes, things were not as great for a few of the women who helped contribute to the network’s success. Cracks in the foundation began to appear in 2016 when former on-air personality Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against the network and its former head, Roger Ailes. Carlson claimed that she endured years of harassment from Ailes and a few of her colleagues when she co-hosted the popular morning show Fox & Friends. Carlson said when she voiced her complaints about the harassment, she was let go by the network. Ailes consistently denied the accusations.
The lawsuit had a domino effect on the network, as it led to several women coming forward with similar stories, including Megyn Kelly, who hosted a popular prime time Fox Network program at the time. The accusations became too much for the network to handle, and it dismissed Ailes a few weeks after the initial lawsuit was filed.
The termination signaled a shift in tone for the network, as nine months later it parted ways with Bill O’ Reilly, the network’s biggest star, over his own trouble with sexual harassment allegations.
In its settlement with the network, the Commission said it was fining Fox $250,000 for four separate cases of sexual harassment, although it did not disclose the names of the women involved. The fines represent the largest the Commission has ever levied against an institution.
How Do I Know if I am Being Sexually Harassed?
Sexual harassment can take many forms and generally occurs in a workplace environment, although it does not exclusively have to occur there. Sexual harassment can fall into two main categories:
- Hostile work environment: A person creates an atmosphere in which another person feels uncomfortable. This could be done through routine sexual jokes, comments, lewd remarks, or other inappropriate remarks.
- Quid pro quo: This is when a person pressures a co-worker to perform a sexual act or engage in intercourse in exchange for a work benefit such as a promotion, better shift, or job security.
The women in the Fox News case accused the network of retaliating against them when they reported claims of sexual harassment. Retaliation is also a form of sexual harassment.
Examples of retaliation against an employee include the following:
- Loss of job
- Fewer hours
- Moved to an undesirable shift
- Removed from major project
- Reduced responsibilities
This behavior should not be tolerated by anyone, especially if they are already dealing with ongoing sexual harassment. Those who encounter this treatment should reach out to an employment lawyer who can help them resolve the situation.
What can I Collect in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?
Those who have endured sexual harassment at work and fail to reach a resolution through their company can take the matter to court to force a resolution. They can also recoup certain financial losses they sustained as a result of the harassment. They can recoup the following damages:
- Lost wages: If the harassment is so bad a person is forced to take time off work or even quit, they can seek the money they would have earned. They can also seek the income they would have earned had the company not terminated them in retaliation for sexual harassment claims.
- Medical expenses: If a person had to treat any mental or physical conditions that arose from the harassment, they can include the expenses for that as part of a lawsuit.
- Compensatory damages: A person can seek compensatory damages for other out-of-pocket expenses they might have incurred because of the harassment, including job search and other expenses.
- Punitive damages: Depending on the severity of the harassment or the culture at a company, a court may elect to charge the company with punitive damages that will not benefit the plaintiff but will serve as a deterrent to the company not to engage in that type of behavior again.
- Reinstatement: A person who quit or lost their job can request that the company re-hire them or return them to their original position if they were demoted in retaliation.
- Future pay: There are situations when it is impractical or not feasible for a person to return to their former position. In that instance, they can seek the salary they would have been making based on their age, experience, and other factors, had they not left their position.
- Company changes: A lawsuit can mandate that the company institute a policy change to ensure that incidents of sexual harassment never occur again. It could be implementing a certain policy or other mandated changes.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Vigorously Defend Clients Who Face Sexual Harassment and Retaliation at Work
If you are facing ongoing sexual harassment at work and worse have been punished by your company because you tried to report the problem, the South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC can step in and get you the relief you seek. With our experience and dedication, we will stand up for you so that you will not have to face this kind of treatment again. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.