There are many reasons why people do not always come forward after being harassed at work, but the most common reason may be that they fear losing their jobs. Sexual harassment is likely to be an even more frequent occurrence than people in California realize since so many victims keep silent. This is most evident when one person goes public, inspiring others to come forward with similar accusations against the same perpetrator.
One example of this is the recent lawsuit filed by former Fox News Channel personality Gretchen Carlson against 21st Century Fox and news chairman Roger Ailes. Carlson alleges that, after she denied and reported his sexual advances, Ailes destroyed her career. After 11 years at the network, the popular anchor was not signed for another season. Despite his denial of the charges, two weeks after the suit was filed, 76-year-old Ailes resigned and was given a $40 million severance from 21st Century Fox.
Since then, it is reported that over 25 women have come forward to accuse Ailes of harassing them while they worked at Fox News. One woman revealed that Ailes paid her over $3 million to leave the job and settle the harassment suit she had filed against him. Some expect more women will speak out as the investigation widens. Ailes and 21st Century Fox apparently want to settle with Carlson to avoid having a parade of victims testifying against them in a public trial.
There is no question that coming forward with complaints of sexual harassment is difficult. As happened with Gretchen Carlson, the reaction of the accused may be to vilify the victim. However, when one person speaks up against harassment in the workplace, it often opens the door for other victims to walk through, and this may start a dialogue that makes workplaces in California safer for everyone.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Roger Ailes and 21st Century Fox in settlement talks on Gretchen Carlson’s harassment case“, Stephen Battaglio, Aug. 9, 2016