On Wednesday, Fox News made a bold decision in firing Bill O’Reilly, host of an extremely popular news program, after evidence emerged in early April that the network had worked with him to settle multiple sexual harassment claims over a 20-year period. For some, this information came as a shock, with many eager to defend O’Reilly for what he argued was an unfounded series of accusations. For others, the information was a welcome stand against the many appearances of impropriety. But regardless of what any of us may think personally, the O’Reilly story allows us to put the entire topic of sexual harassment into a more serious perspective.
The most high profile case of sexual harassment in the last decade was introduced by Ingrid Reeves against her former employer, C.H. Robinson Worldwide. She was the only female Transportation Sales Representative at CHRW and for more than a year, was subject to frequently lewd and offensive conversation by those near to and around her cubicle. This included sexually explicit radio programming playing on a daily basis and exposure to a pornographic image of a woman on a co-worker’s computer. Despite leveling complaints to her supervisor, the behavior continued and her suit went all the way to US Circuit Court of Appeals, which expanded the definition of a hostile work environment.
No longer does sexual harassment simply mean saying something directly to a fellow employee. No longer does sexual harassment mean making unwanted advances toward a co-worker. Sexual harassment can simply mean exposing fellow employees to inappropriate discussions. Now if that seems over-the-top or heavy-handed, it really is not. We all have the ability to filter our own words and our own behaviors in a public work environment, but we also have the ability to be thoughtful and cognizant of those around us.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment, please contact the law offices of Beers and Gordon P.A. for a free consultation. Our firm serves all of Seminole, Orange, Volusia, Lake, and Brevard counties, including Oviedo, Winter Springs, Altamonte Springs, Sanford, Longwood, Winter Park, Lake Mary, and Greater Orlando. Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience ready and willing to go the distance on your case. Call us right away at 407-862-1825.