The news that former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson made claims of sexual harassment against Fox News’ indomitable founder, Roger Ailes, brings to the fore the issue of sexual harassment and harassment policies generally. Ailes has stepped down as the Chairman and CEO of Fox News.
A recent case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Kandace Pullen v. Kaddo Parish School Bd., serves as a reminder to employers that a written harassment policy may not be worth the paper it is written on unless it is fully publicized to all employees and supervisors who acknowledge the same in writing. Employees and supervisors should be trained according to a written harassment policy and acknowledge receipt of the written policy in writing. Obviously the policy should contain clear procedures for reporting and investigating allegations of harassment.
In the Pullen case, the employer school district had a harassment policy, but evidence was conflicting as to how well it was publicized. The court therefore denied the school board’s motion to dismiss the case.