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Learning from the Fox News sexual harassment controversy

by | Apr 14, 2017 | Sexual Harassment

Fox News is embroiled in a sexual harassment controversy that just won’t go away. The allegations have come from multiple women, including several high-profile members of the organization.

The story, however, isn’t just about Fox News. Given the amount of publicity the allegations have received, the scandal has opened a larger conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace.

In reaction to the Fox News story, the New York Times explored the reasons why women don’t report sexual harassment in the workplace more often. In addition to anecdotal evidence from women who have experienced harassment saying it wasn’t worth reporting the abuse, the story presents some interesting statistics.

  • According to an analysis referenced in the story, 25 percent of women say they have been sexually harassed.
  • The number nearly doubles when researchers ask about specific behaviors.

This means that many women either don’t know that certain conduct constitutes harassment, or that they intentionally ignore the abuse.

The findings from the New York Times article are consistent with stories we’ve shared in the past about women who seem reluctant to take action when they experience sexual harassment at work. While we understand that it is difficult to come forward in many cases, we hope that sharing the stories of these brave women will inspire other victims to take steps to hold their abusers accountable.

In the meantime, employers can take several steps to help employees report harassment, such as ensuring that there is a clearly defined structure in place for employees to notify supervisors or Human Resources professionals about inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Another good idea, highlighted in the New York Times story, is to hire an ombudsman. This would be someone who works independently from the business and offers employees the chance to submit their complaints to an impartial party.

Although they only represent a small percentage of cases of sexual harassment, these high-profile stories provide opportunities for both employers and employees to take steps to recognize, prevent and report such conduct in the workplace.

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The Attorneys of Katz Melinger PLLC