Yesterday it was announced that Roger Ailes of FOX News has resigned from his role as head of the highly successful media company in the wake of multiple complaints about his inappropriate behavior around female team members. Ailes’ exit was precipitated by the announcement of a workplace harassment-based lawsuit brought by former FOX News anchor Gretchen Carlson.
This is not the first time a high profile workplace harassment case has made the headlines, and sadly it won’t be the last. With that said, allow me to make some observations after watching news of this nature break over a 30+ year career.
- Rarely, if ever, are the behaviors described in these lawsuits proven to be untrue. In virtually all high profile cases, the defense instead argues that the behavior was somehow consensual – or even mild in nature.
- Each time a high profile case has hit the press, the number of complaints and claims of workplace harassment have spiked throughout the U.S. in the months to follow.
- It’s so critical to understand that harassment needs to be treated as valid and true from the start. They need to be handled at a minimum as something accurately perceived by the victim as hostile and offensive, and, for practical purposes, assumed to have happened until a complete and professional investigation is performed and proves otherwise.
As employers, we need to proactively manage harassment in the workplace… each and every day. This means raising awareness by providing training to managers (and even staff), having a professionally written policy, and understanding the importance of handling every claim seriously, consistently, and completely.
Finally, even when the source of the harassment is the CEO/President (like in the case of Roger Ailes) you still must address the behavior / complaint, as well as have clear protocols for doing so under your policy and procedures.
You are invited to reach out to your OperationsInc consultant for guidance on these issues, as we are subject matter experts in the area of Harassment Prevention and Awareness.
For further guidance or assistance, please contact your OperationsInc consultant directly or another member of our team at info@OperationsInc.com.