The Fox News Harassment Suit vs CEO Roger Ailes Is A Classic Case of No One Standing Up to Ugly Old Guys...
How many of you watch Fox News? I'd say no more than half - because that's how polarized America is these days on politics.
But now we have something from Fox News to unite us - a harassment suit brought by former Fox and Friends anchor, Gretchen Carlson, against Fox News Chief Roger Ailes. Here are the basics to get you started:
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday morning, the former daytime host says the Fox News mastermind repeatedly harassed and demeaned her with “severe and pervasive” sexual harassment before she was officially fired on June 23—the final day of her contract.
According to the lawsuit, Ailes tried to convince Carlson to sleep with him “by various means,” including the inclusion of “sexual and/or sexist comments” into everyday conversation. Last September, the 76-year-old executive allegedly told her: “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better.”
Meh. Make sure you have images enabled on this post - so you can see the split screen picture of Ailes and Carlson. Creepy, right?
What can you learn from this? There are hundreds - make that thousands - of companies in America where top male executives act like fools with behavior that can easily be thrown into a harassment suit. How that behavior is handled is pretty much in direct correlation with the power of those individuals. The more power the person has at the organization, the less likely those around him - HR, but more importantly his direct reports on the operations side - are to confront that individual with how stupid and reckless he's being.
6 other women have come forward with their own tales of Ailes creepers over the weekend. That's what happens when no one can tell the boss he's acting like a perve. Compare the Ailes allegations to those that Carlson made in the same filing against the Fox and Friends guy that everyone loves, Steve Doocy:
"In particular, the lawsuit points a finger at former Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy.
On or around September 3, 2009, Carlson complained that Doocy created a hostile work environment by “regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way,” including “putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast.” Doocy also allegedly mocked her during commercial breaks and, in Carlson’s estimation, treated her as a “blond female prop."
That sounds like filler in a court filing to load it up with as much as you can. If all you have on Doocy is that he was condescending and told you to shush, that's not exactly a smoking gun.
But the overall account of Ailes with Carlson sounds like a guy who thought he could do anything he wants to do. This suit will come down to the fact that it's really being positioned as a retaliation suit - with Carlson losing her job. Her claim is retaliation after she said no to the humpty dance, Fox News claims she was let go due to poor ratings. We'll see what happens.
The opportunity for you as an HR Pro is to use this situation to wake someone up. More than a couple of you work in a company where a top exec is a total pig. If you can't confront it for political reasons, get to someone that has the ear of the pig in question - and use the Ailes case as fodder to show them what can happen - and urge them to have the "stop acting like a total d**k"" conversation that's long overdue.