Public radio station WNYC and its parent company, New York Public Radio, have recently faced multiple allegations of inappropriate conduct, sexual harassment, and bullying. Several popular hosts were accused of impropriety by co-workers and guests, and a number were put on leave and then fired. An internal probe revealed additional incidents and indicated that management was aware that at least some of the programs were facing such problems.
The bad publicity appeared to come down on Laura R. Walker, president and chief executive of New York Public Radio, and other top managers. Last year, Walker said that she had “prioritized growth and content and programming over investment in some of the processes and people.” Observers expected Walker to be held responsible.
New York Public Radio hired a law firm to investigate its culture and that of WNYC. That firm has just returned a 10-page report in which it says it found no evidence of systemic gender discrimination being tolerated by management.
After interviewing a few dozen employees and former employees and reviewing employment records and other documents, the firm did identify incidents of bullying and harassment. These incidents often went unreported to senior management due to fears of retaliation, a lack of confidence in how complaints would be handled, and, the New York Times says, a perception that star hosts were untouchable.
The report also noted that a number of prominent women of color had left the station due to allegedly hostile and discriminatory working conditions. However, it concluded there was no evidence to corroborate their complaints or to indicate that race or gender discrimination led to their departures.
It went on to recommend standard workplace interventions such as beefing up human resources, providing additional training to managers, creating an anti-bullying policy, and reiterating existing anti- discrimination and harassment policies to employees. It said that the company and station need to convey that they are fostering a respectful environment for everyone and that no one will face retaliation for reporting inappropriate conduct.
According to the Times, a recent employee meeting about the report left many employees stunned and dismayed by the fact that no one in management would be held accountable.
This outcome must be extremely frustrating and disappointing for employees who believed that management played a role in shielding star performers from the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for companies to do just that.
If you are suffering discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work, talk to an employment law attorney. Your lawyer can help you make a plan to ensure that your concerns are taken seriously while working to prevent retaliation.
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