WASHINGTON, D.C.—The #MeToo movement has brought workplace sexual harassment into the forefront and, like many other sectors, the broadcast industry has been impacted. Workplace misconduct allegations against such notable broadcasters as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Garrison Keillor led to their departure from the airwaves.
Womble Bond Dickinson telecom lawyer Gregg Skall, with help from labor and employment lawyer Richard Rainey, explores the issue in a new column for All Access.
“While allegations of harassment in the broadcast industry are not new, the #MeToo movement and the cultural backlash we are experiencing today is ample evidence that this type of behavior will not be tolerated moving forward,” Skall writes. “Broadcasters who allow anything even close to it in the workplace could face serious legal action as well as increasingly bad publicity.”
Skall and Rainey say that the best ways broadcast industry employers can protect themselves are through a strong, comprehensive program of anti-harassment policies and training. Also, employees who see something out of place should be encouraged to speak up.
“Now is the time to seriously review your existing employee manuals or create one. Review your discrimination policies and assess the office behavior in your own work environment. Behavior previously considered unwelcome, but not over the line, can no longer be considered within the norm,” Skall writes.
Gregg Skall represents broadcasters and other parties in their regulatory dealings before the Federal Communications Commission and in their commercial business dealings. He serves as Washington Counsel to several state broadcaster associations. He also works with telecommunications companies and with radio device manufacturers to obtain FCC approvals.
Richard Rainey is a labor and employment attorney with extensive experience litigating employment disputes on behalf of employers in the courtroom and before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the U.S. and N.C. Department of Labor. His litigation practice also includes actions involving covenants not to compete, theft of trade secrets, unfair competition, employee raiding, fair housing and equal credit.