Sexual harassment in the workplace is not always limited to one “rogue” employee. To the contrary, gender discrimination often reflects a corporate culture that permits–even encourages–abusive behavior towards women. In turn, this can make female employees afraid to come forward and report illegal harassment or discrimination for fear of public humiliation or retaliation.
Ex-Contributor Claims Rape, Blacklisting
Media giant 21st Century Fox has been embroiled in scandal for months over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at its New York-based Fox News Network. Recently, the publicly traded company disclosed it paid over $50 million to settle “allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination” arising from misconduct at Fox News last year. As one media observer opined, “Fox News for decades cultivated a workplace culture permissive of serial sexual harassment.” Indeed, more than two dozen women have come forward to report sexual harassment at the company.
In at least one case, there are allegations that harassment escalated to sexual violence. On September 18, a former on-air contributor to Fox News sued 21st Century Fox in Manhattan federal court. She alleges violations of state and city employment discrimination laws against not only the network, but also a specific on-air host.
According to her lawsuit, the plaintiff appeared as a regular guest on the host's program. “From the beginning,” the lawsuit alleges, the host “expressed his romantic interest in [the plaintiff] and suggested that he could help advance her career.” A few months later, the plaintiff said the host “sexually assaulted and raped” her. He then “coerced” her into maintaining a sexual relationship tied to her receiving “increases in appearances and other employment benefits.”
After the plaintiff “cut off the relationship,” she said she reported the host's misconduct to a senior Fox News executive. The plaintiff said the company failed to discipline the host, and instead “blacklisted her” from further appearances on the network. The plaintiff further claims Fox executives spread false rumors about her to the press in order to publicly humiliate her and prevent from obtaining other employment, including a possible position with President Donald J. Trump's administration.
Accordingly, the plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages not just for gender-based discrimination, but also retaliation and defamation. In addition, the plaintiff seeks damages directly against the accused host for acts of “gender motivated violence,” which is a separate offense under New York City's administrative code.
Stand Up to Sexual Violence at Work
In 2017, it should go without saying that sexual violence is never acceptable in the workplace. Unfortunately, too many women are still subject to such abuse. If you have been the target of sexual harassment or violence at work and need legal advice from a qualified New York employment law attorney, contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar today.