Last month, superstar Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was reported to have multiple allegations of sexual harassment charges pinned against him. Now, representatives for the parent company, 21st Century Fox News, as well as O’Reilly, are saying that no employee ever utilized the company’s anonymous hotline to make a complaint against the defendant.
In effort to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, some companies have implemented a hotline for employees to report such behavior. Too often though, a business’s hotline exists in obscurity. Moreover, even when employees are knowledgeable about it, it can be a tool for suppressing sexual harassment allegations instead of dealing with them.
Hard to Find and Even Harder to Trust
Many companies make it tough for their employees to file confidential complaints and even harder to find a hotline if necessary. That was purportedly the experience of many Fox News staff members, who alleged that they were unaware of the media giant’s sexual harassment hotline and had never been told about one, even in training sessions regarding sexual harassment.
Despite these claims, a spokesman for 21st Century Fox said that a company hotline has existed since 2004. This internal hotline is contracted by NAVEX global, the world’s biggest compliance-hotline company.
When a caller reaches an operator on the NAVEX hotline, they are initially asked if they would like to remain anonymous. They are then asked for the “who, what, where, when, and whys” of the incident. Once all of the appropriate information has been received, the compliance company will send a detailed report to the business and they will also get an alert that a new report has been issued.
Publicly traded companies such as 21st Century Fox are required by law to have whistleblower hotlines to report inappropriate or illegal behavior at work. Conversely, private companies have no such requirement, yet there are laws set in place to protect workers who may report any wrongdoings externally.
Many experts agree that numerous employers merely use hotlines to help shield themselves from legal liability without ever following up on sexual harassment complaints.
Statistics show that employees are less likely to use a hotline if they do not feel protected from retaliation. This element was a factor at 21st Century Fox in 2004, when the company offered support to Mr. O’Reilly after a prominent sexual harassment case ended with him paying a hefty $9 million settlement to a producer. This information could have served as a deterrent for other women who might have reported further sexual harassment issues.
South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Fight to Protect Sexual Harassment Victims
Every working person should know his or her rights when it comes to sexual harassment at the workplace and should never feel frightened to report it. If you have been subjected to unwanted behavior, discuss your situation with our South Jersey sexual harassment lawyers. Complete our online form or call 215-569-1999 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. today. Our Philadelphia offices serve residents of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.