Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Bill O’Reilly paid $32 million to settle a claim of sexual harassment brought against him by a former co-worker.
On Monday, in an interview with the New York Times, O’Reilly let his accusers have it:
It’s horrible what I went through, horrible what my family went through. This is crap. It’s politically and financially motivated. We can prove it with shocking information. We have physical proof that this is bullshit.
Dude, I’m going to put this as nicely as possible.
In the same interview, O’Reilly claimed, “I’ve never had one complaint filed against me by a co-worker in any human-resources department in 43 years. That encompasses 12 different companies.”
One of those former co-workers, Megyn Kelly (who settled her own claims of harassment against Fox News), tells a very different story.
Bill O’Reilly playing the victim card is exactly why we still have such a huge problem with sexual harassment. If someone accuses you of harassment, there are two things you absolutely cannot do.
- You cannot blame the victim (or God, which O’Reilly also did).
- You cannot claim victim status yourself.
The American Corporation has a large harassment problem. From Bill O’Reilly, to Harvey Weinstein, to Roy Price, to Uber, to the small business down the street from you, to maybe even your own shop, sexual harassment is a massive issue.
When a harasser claims that he is the victim, he exacerbates the myth that sexual harassment in the workplace is not a problem. When you sexually harass women, when you send women unsolicited and unwanted pornography, when you force women into non-consensual sexual relationships, you are not the victim, they are. And to say anything else perpetuates the falsehood that harassment can be ignored and swept under the rug.
As an advocate for employers, let me say that this is not acceptable. It never was (despite the long history of harassment to which women have been subjected), and it is certainly no longer is. This shameful misbehavior, the corporate cultures that enable it, and the after-the-fact actions that attempt to justify it, must stop.
So shame on Bill O’Reilly and anyone making excuses for him. I only wish he understood his disgraceful misconduct and his role in enabling that of others.
This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.