When it comes to sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace, far to often, perpetrators only get a slap on the hand; it is swept under the rug or it goes unpunished. It is sad that in many situations, there is no proof. Nonetheless, women are encouraged to network with male co-workers.
Unfortunately, this does not always work. Some men assume a woman is into them because she wants to network or collaborate. This happened to me, a couple of times with male coworkers and two pillars of my community. I’m not going to go in detail right now, but understand that it’s similar to the sexual misconduct of Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who believes he can sexually assault women just because he is a celebrity. Believe me, some men take advantage of these connections just because they can. Others brag about their abuse of power/authority. As momma used to say, “they don’t believe that fat meat is greasy.”
Nevertheless, there is an old adage that says “what is done in the dark, will come to the light.” It serves as a warning. Obviously, some people do not believe “there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17 NIV).
Consider the sexual harassment allegations at Fox News that’s been on the radar for quite some time. Just in case, you are lost in “La La Land” right now or have been hibernating for the past few months, let’s rewind a bit.
After Fox & Friends News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, current and former female employees came out in droves with similar claims. Even Megan Kelly spilt the tea. Eventually, the cofounder and former CEO of Fox News tumbled from his thrown, but he left with a $40 million-dollar payday. Although Carlson received $20 million along with the following apology from 21st Century Fox, is that really justice? What message does this settlement send about sexual harassment in the workplace?
“21st Century Fox is pleased to announce that it has settled Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit. During her tenure at Fox News, Gretchen exhibited the highest standards of journalism and professionalism. She developed a loyal audience and was a daily source of information for many Americans. We are proud that she was part of the Fox News team. We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”
Although 21st Century Fox apologized, this scandal is not over. And sadly enough, Roger’s supporters still probably wonder, “Who Framed Roger (Rabbit) Ailes?” Some believe it must be a conspiracy because a beautiful “blonde-haired woman” was smart enough to beat a man who is sly as a Fox at his own game. He’s not sorry. He just got caught! The parent company apologized. Did we miss his apology somehow? She recorded him, sued, and won. According to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, several female employees including Carlson received more than $40 million in settlement payments from Fox for sexual harassment claims against other employees or Ailes. Why do some people think that sexual harassment and sex misconduct is okay?!
Sherman’s article, The Revenge of Roger’s Angels: How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media, exposed the diabolical culture at the news station: systemic sexual harassment, misogyny, corruption, illegal surveillance, smear campaigns, and hush money. Apparently, sexual harassment training and policies are no longer enough. Where is Fox’s HR department? Rules are bent and companies cover-up wrongdoing. It should not matter whether the perpetrator is an executive, manager, supervisor, key employee, or top performer. Sweeping complaints under the rug only protects monsters. These criminals should be brought to justice for wrongdoing. Seriously, what message does it sends when the “perp” actually walks away freely from the organization with more money than the complainant does?! This is not how to fix sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sure, there is always more than one side to every story, but considering all of the complaints against Ailes during his time at the helm, further investigation is warranted. This is ridiculous: a multimillion-dollar settlement and firing him or asking him to resign is simply not enough. If Rudi Bakhtiar, a former Fox News correspondent, was fired after complaining about sexual harassment, this sent a disconcerting message about the harsh realities of retaliation.
What does it say about an organization when it’s revealed that its founder was accused of telling a former Republic National Committee field adviser, she “might have to give a blow job every once in a while?” Kellie Boyle, told New York that Ailes said this to her. Furthermore, Ailes allegedly requested former model Marsha Callahan wear “a garter belt and stockings” and asked for sex in exchange for a TV appearance. Can you even imagine how a female employee feels after being sexually harassed and “psychological tortured” for more than 20 years by her boss? Laurie Luhn, Fox News booker, told lawyers that Ailes did this to her. Go a head, do your own research and take a moment to Google these accounts. You might be surprised to see what other disturbing stories you find about Ailes and Fox News.
Something is seriously wrong in society when systemic sexual harassment and sexual misconduct is not taken seriously. Some people do not have a moral compass. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a man complimenting a woman, being a woman’s mentor, or just friend. However, there is a very thin line in determining the appropriateness of a compliment. For example, you don’t want to be that coworker who complements a woman then stares at her a little too long that it becomes creepy! You don’t want to cross the line even when they are blurred.
Punishments should fit the crime especially when there’s a mound of evidence to substantiate the complaint. In agreement with Anita Hill, “Fox should take back the $40 million dollar severance package that Ailes is believed to have received since he resigned from the network amid a sexual harassment scandal.” There ought to be stiffer penalties if the allegations are proven true. On a final note, when the perpetrator receives a multimillion-dollar payday for the most outrageous sexual harassment scandal of this decade, it’s a slap in the face not only to the victims, but also to those who suffer in silence.