Several major advertisers wary of sexual harassment accusations against Bill O’Reilly have continued to pull their ads from his primetime cable news show. According to The New York Times, in the last 24 hours, eight companies including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW, GlaxoSmithKline and Allstate have suspended sponsorship of the widely-watched “O’Reilly Factor.”
Settlements Totaling $13 Million
These decisions apparently came after The New York Times published an investigation last weekend, which found that five women who had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior got settlements totally $13 million. The National Organization for Women has also called for O’Reilly to be fired and has said that an independent investigation should be conducted into the workplace culture at Fox News.
O’Reilly, 67, is the network’s most visible star with a show that draws record ratings – about 4 million viewers a night — with its conservative commentary. The show has also generated more than $446 million in advertising revenue between 2014 and 2016. Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, renewed O’Reilly’s contract that was set to expire this year at a time when it was aware of these multiple legal settlements. According to the Times, O’Reilly earns about $18 million a year.
Part of a Larger Problem?
This is hardly the first such allegation against Fox. Last year, the network’s former chairman and CEO, left after he was accused by several women including Gretchen Carlson of inappropriate behavior and blatant sexual harassment. He has denied the accusations. Fox News contributor, Andrea Tantaros claimed she too was retaliated against by Fox News after she complained about Ailes fostering a work environment she likened to a “sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult.” Other women have complained about the hostile work environment at Fox as well.
A hostile work environment is created by an employer, supervisor of colleague whose actions, communications or behavior can make doing your job difficult or impossible. This means that such conduct changed the terms, conditions and/or reasonable expectation of a comfortable work environment for employees. The behavior or communications are also discriminatory in nature. In other words, they are based on a person’s gender, race, color, national origin or sexual orientation. A hostile work environment is not created by rude or obnoxious behavior, rather by behavior or actions that are harassing and discriminatory.
If you or a loved one is facing harassment of discrimination at the workplace or a hostile work environment, it is important that you contact an experienced employment lawyer who can fight for your rights and hold your employer accountable.