And FOX News knows this issue is gaining steam and there will likely be others who will make the same claims. This isn’t going to just go away.
When a person becomes high profile in media and entertainment, when their bank account features lots of zeroes, and when there’s a level of stardom and controversy affixed to their image, there will be con artists and opportunists seeking to file lawsuits knowing they are going to get a fat check simply to make it go away.
And this is not the first time O’Reilly has been embroiled in such allegations. He was sued in 2004 by a former co-worker for sexual harassment and counter-sued on the ground she was simply trying to extort money from him.She settled this lawsuit for a reported $9M.
Put these incidents together and you have what some would consider a pattern of boorishness and lack of respect toward women. A pattern that not only deserves, but requires immediate termination.
Sexual harassment of any kind must be taken seriously, especially in the workplace. It cannot be allowed, tolerated, cast aside as merely “boys will be boys” or “let the ladies have their fun”. It’s destructive to a work environment, the image and reputation of a firm and everyone who works there, and can impact the bottom line to the point of putting a company out of business.
But if we’re going to ask controversial questions and learn from them, we are forced to confront an issue within the issue that needs just as much examination and investigation.
That of those who use such legal threats as intimidation for remuneration.
I know personally of 2 people who were fired from their media jobs because of alleged sexual harassment. And I can tell you beyond any shadow of any doubt in both instances the allegations were false. At the time, I told management what I knew about the facts. Yet they discounted my observations out of hand without a second thought because, as I was told by one manager, “we don’t need the negative publicity and it’s easier to just get rid of (the person accused) because we can always replace him cheaper”.
Careers were ruined out of expediency and without a desire to know the truth and fight for it.However, I can also recount from first hand experience that sexual harassment does indeed exist and is used as a weapon, more often by powerful men than powerful women. I have been in a work environment where the words “if you don’t fuck me, I will ruin your career” have been used more than once.
I have seen very talented women demeaned and pushed out of positions they earned because they refused to have affairs with married male managers. I have also overheard a female manager say to a male employee “it’s shame you don’t use what’s between your legs for more appropriate things than just taking a piss”. He was fired 2 weeks later.
Allegations such as these are difficult to prove and many times are almost completely hearsay. In O’Reilly’s case, he is a cash generating machine for FOX and the settlements will be pennies against their profits. However, and we always have to come back to this, there would seem to indicate a pattern here and that deserves action.
Sexual harassment in broadcasting is a fact, and I’ve witnessed it from both sides of the gender aisle. What were once considered casual jokes by colleagues and co-workers have become verbal attacks against those just looking for an excuse to screw with someone’s career. I was told by a co-worker about their plan to have a manager fired by going to HR and reporting “immoral touching”. This person admitted to me over a couple of cocktails it stemmed from a social encounter gone wrong, and the accuser admitted at the time they had no issue with it. This was being done out of spite and because, in this individual’s words, the manager “is going to learn not to screw with someone like me ever again”.
I’ll wager you have experienced both sides of this issue in your own workplace. It’s impossible to avoid when the human factor is the largest part of the equation.
Those who discount these women out of hand with the excuse “well, if it was all so bad why didn’t they report it sooner, so that proves all they want is the money?” idiocy, that would only seem to indicate they’ve either never cared to examine the issue, or perhaps would be the first in their group to tell a woman “no sex, no job honey”.
The bottom line is this. FOX wasted little time in firing network founder Roger Ailes when the sexual harassment charges against him became too loud and too numerous to deny. The number of accusations reached the point where the once-respected Ailes was considered “predatory” when it came to women in the FOX workplace.
Ailes time was done at FOX, and he truthfully was no longer generating cash for the network machine. He was expendable. O’Reilly is one of, if not the, highest revenue generator in the FOX News stable. From a money standpoint, at least for the moment, he is not expendable and, as previously noted, paying off such lawsuits is well within the FOX profit margin.
Is FOX choosing money over morality? Is it more important for them to cash in than give in to what would seem to be the obvious?
What does that say about the reputation, image and integrity of the organization?
They’ll do anything to save their money maker because they can just keep paying off accusers and keep cashing in. That, and there are plenty of people out there who will work for a lower salary. The sign of a management that cares little about the people, only the bottom line.
- Make a conscious decision to be more concerned about overall profit margin than a level of professional morality at your own peril. Paying off one individual can be seen as a nuisance. Paying off multiple complainants speaks to a deeper problem.
- There is no doubt frivolous lawsuits are brought every day claiming harassment of some kind, more often than not against celebrities or those with a level of fame. Each one must be considered on it’s own merits and facts following a thorough investigation. Evidence beats rumor and innuendo every time.
- Sexual harassment in the workplace is real and happens every day. You as the CEO, the Manager, the LEADER, must be out in front of such criminal acts long before they happen. You must lead by example in shutting it down at the risk of your career and the health of the company. It’s up to YOU to ensure every employee feels safe and does not fear coming forward with evidence. The fer of being fired, minimized or ignored is also very real.
- It is possible to make a profit without breaking the law. It takes desire and integrity from the top of the management pyramid to the bottom.
- Roger Ailes was hustled out of the FOX building because he was old and served his purpose. He was no longer a revenue generating machine. He was considered expendable. FOX will stick behind O’Reilly as long as they can and as long as he’s making them money. When his profit levels start to drop, they’ll jettison him just as fast and with no regret.
What does that say about the people who will continue to watch, support him and continue his run at fame and fortune?
O’Reilly and FOX, for the moment, don’t seem to be overly concerned. In the maddening 24/7 news cycle we live in, they hope this will all blow over in a few weeks and they will go back to the business of ranting and ratings.
Because to those with no integrity, it is always only about the cash flow. And as long as people watch and those ratings are high, there is no reason whatsoever to rock the bank account boat.