Attorney Nancy Gray Examines Sexual Harassment And Employer Liability

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Los Angeles attorney Nancy Gray illustrates a company’s liability when an employee is accused of sexually harassing a coworker, as exemplified by the recent Bill O’Reilly scandal at Fox News.

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Attorney Nancy Gray

When corporations retain known sexual harassers, it can exponentially increase the corporation’s exposure when they have direct knowledge of this behavior, as well as severely damage their reputation, sometimes permanently.

In light of an April 11, 2017, Vox article, “The potential legal train wreck ahead for Fox News and Bill O’Reilly,” attorney Nancy Gray, founder of Gray & Associates, P.C., examines how the actions of employees regarding sexual harassment can have legal ramifications for the employer or company.

According to the Vox article, Fox News and O’Reilly settled with five women who claimed O’Reilly sexually harassed them, and the payout to these women was roughly $13 million. Moreover, O’Reilly has since been forced out of his position as a prime-time host on Fox News, nine months after the network’s founding chairman, Roger E. Ailes, was dismissed due to a sexual harassment scandal.

“When corporations retain known sexual harassers, it can exponentially increase the corporation’s exposure when they have direct knowledge of this behavior, as well as severely damage their reputation, sometimes permanently,” said Gray, who focuses on sexual harassment. “At some point, the price for the company becomes extremely high, not only because of larger settlements with the victims, but, in the case of Fox News, secondary damages when advertisers pull their support. The O'Reilly situation is a perfect example of why a company should act quickly and decisively to address sexual harassment claims, and to never expect that a large settlement will simply make the problem go away."

For example, a company could be exposed to punitive damages if it retains a serial harasser. Furthermore, a company is required, when it has notice of harassment allegations, to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the charges. “However, certain corporations retain these accused people as they are profit centers, the rainmakers, such as O’Reilly,” added Gray.

Employers need to teach their employees what constitutes harassment, laying out the range of conduct that can cost a worker his or her job. If there is sexual harassment in the workplace and there is a mechanism to report it to management, it should be reported.

"The victim is protected from retaliation," concluded Gray. "The victim should contact a lawyer if the harassment is bad or if there is a perceived culture that no good will come from alerting management to the problem. Understandably, some employees simply resign rather than be subjected to re-victimization."

About Nancy Gray, Gray & Associates, P.C.
Nancy Gray is an AV-Rated attorney and Los Angeles Super Lawyer with more than 30 years of experience providing personalized attention and creative solutions to her clients’ legal issues. Gray & Associates focuses on civil litigation and trials, commercial law, contracts, sexual harassment, labor and employment law, employment contracts, intellectual property litigation, trademark litigation, unfair competition, false advertising, and business law. For more information, please call (310) 452-1211, or visit http://www.grayfirm.com. The law office is located at 11500 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90064.

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