Philadelphia-based media corporation, Comcast, is facing a potential inquiry into its failure to protect employees from sexual harassment. Activist investment firm Arjuna Capital filed a resolution that would require the company to conduct an independent review of incidents of sexual harassment and how the company failed to prevent them. The firm wants a vote on the resolution at the next shareholder meeting, but the company is trying to keep it off the agenda.
Arjuna Capital says it represents numerous investors whose collective Comcast holdings total more than 1.4 million shares of the company’s 4.6 billion. According to the firm, the need for such a resolution came from concerns over the impact of sexual harassment on the company’s reputation and bottom line. There have been some highly publicized incidents involving sexual harassment over the past few years, most notably the firing of Today host Matt Lauer by Comcast-owned NBC over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and one accusation of rape.
Claims of Toxic Workplace Culture at NBC
The firing raised serious questions about how NBC handles workplace sexual misconduct. NBC claimed that Lauer was fired as soon as the company became aware of the misconduct complaint, and that an internal investigation cleared executives of any wrongdoing because no previous formal complaints had been filed. A report by a New Yorker staff writer disputed this, saying managers did know about his behavior before any action was taken. UltraViolet, a national women’s group that supports the resolution, also claimed that Comcast had a toxic culture that allowed this sort of behavior in the workplace. The resolution calls for an independent investigation and report on how the company could improve its response to sexual misconduct to help protect employees.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) permits companies not to bring forth certain shareholder resolutions pertaining to the business operations of the company. Those details are considered the purview of the company’s management and board of directors, rather than shareholders who only gather once a year, and companies will not be penalized for omitting such resolutions in their annual shareholder meeting. Comcast wrote a letter to the SEC arguing that this resolution fell into that category and requested a confirmation that there would be no action taken against them if they did not put it before their shareholders. Arjuna Capital claimed that sexual harassment goes deeper than ordinary business and attempts by the company to omit the resolution signal a problem.
Workplace sexual misconduct can have serious financial implications. In addition to hefty fines and settlements, companies may see their share prices drop following these incidents; the market value of Wynn Resorts plummeted in the days after sexual harassment allegations against CEO Steve Wynn came to light. More importantly, employees have the right to a harassment-free workplace, and employers are responsible for ensuring their safety. When they fail to do so, they put their employees and shareholders at risk.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for the Rights of Workplace Harassment Victims
If you were the victim of workplace sexual misconduct, call the Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. We have the knowledge and experience to handle all types of sexual misconduct cases, and we will aggressively defend your rights to achieve the best possible outcome. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help workplace sexual harassment victims throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation.