Some people in Tennessee might be aware that the broadcasting industry has recently been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. However, media companies have been implicated in similar behavior in the past. A decade ago, Gawker and The New York Times reported on sexual harassment at Tribune Broadcasting. The company rewrote the employee handbook to excuse certain types of talk and jokes as not being harassment.
The #MeToo movement has had a significant effect on pushing more allegations forward, and employers may need to consider how they will handle allegations of sexual harassment. There will continue to be office romances, and in surveys, many employees still consider the workplace as a setting to find a partner. Companies will need to exercise judgment and recognize nuance. One challenge is that an interaction that appears consensual may simply be a person with less power trying to defuse the situation. Companies must also be aware that employees may face harassment from vendors or clients.
Companies will need to have strong policies and training. In fact, state broadcaster associations may step in with assistance. Companies should make it clear that people who feel they are dealing with harassment can report it. They may need to review and update employee manuals and policies. They should also consider what constitutes a proportional response to harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace tends to be underreported for a number of reasons. Employees may wonder whether a lewd comment or action counts as sexual harassment. They may be worried about how it will affect their job even if the company seems supportive about sexual harassment reporting. Therefore, someone who is dealing with harassment or discrimination in the workplace might want to consult an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to explain how to best document the incidents and what to do if the employer does not respond to complaints.