In a Superstar Economy, a Bull Market in Superstar Harassers

In the recent wave of reports of workplace sexual harassment, a recurring theme stands out: the willingness of companies’ supposed overseers to ignore credible allegations in order to retain a perceived star.

Whether it was Bill O’Reilly at Fox, which reportedly gave Mr. O’Reilly a $100 million contract extension just weeks after he signed a $32 million settlement with an accuser, or Harvey Weinstein, who paid out at least eight settlements to women who had accused him of harassment and unwanted contact, employers and board members appear to have gone to great lengths to avoid jeopardizing the careers of luminaries accused of misbehavior.

The pattern is so well established that an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission task force, in a report on sexual harassment last year, gave those who benefit from it a name: “superstar” harassers.

“When the superstar misbehaves, employers may perceive themselves in a quandary,” the report said. “They may be tempted to ignore the misconduct because, the thinking goes, losing the superstar would be too costly.”

Source: The New York Times

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