The #MeToo movement has been beneficial in many ways: It has influenced California legislators to adopt more employee-friendly sexual harassment laws, and it has also encouraged more and more women to come forward to speak up about sexual harassment in the workplace, including women who work in the entertainment industry. Yet another account of alleged sexual harassment and assault by television personalities surfaced on July 20, 2020, when two women filed a lawsuit making accusations against multiple Fox News stars.
Allegations of sexual assault
One of the two female plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit said that she was repeatedly raped by host Ed Henry; Henry’s attorneys say there is evidence that the encounters were consensual. The plaintiff, Jennifer Eckhart, says she has text messages showing that he threatened her and pressured her into engaging in sexual acts with him.
Failure to prevent harassment
Eckhart also claims that Fox News was put on notice of Henry’s behavior in 2017 and that it failed to take action for three years. Specifically, she says Fox News conducted a company-wide investigation at which time multiple women accused Henry of sexual misconduct. Eckhart identified multiple executives whom she believes had earlier knowledge of the harassment.
Hostile work environment and retaliation
The second plaintiff, Cathy Areu, states that Sean Hannity humiliated her by offering her male coworkers $100 to take her on a date. Areu says that, when she did not play along with the “joke,” Hannity retaliated against her by rarely inviting her back to appear on his show. Areu also claims that Tucker Carlson invited her to engage in sexual activities with him and says she was invited back to his show significantly less after she declined. Areu says she was propositioned by yet another host, Howard Kurtz, which she declined.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for women – and men – to experience sexual harassment in the workplace, often by higher-level executives. If you feel like you are being sexually harassed, you should document all instances of harassment at the time they occur, with details, and you should save any texts or emails received form the harasser and show them to your employment law attorney.