A year ago, we brought attention to the sexual harassment claims of Shelly Sindland. Sindland was a local television reporter in Connecticut who claimed she was discriminated against by Fox 61 News due to her age and gender. Here are some of the highlights from the complaint:
* On or about January 30, 2009, during a meeting with reporters and anchors, on information and belief, [News Director Bob Rockstroh] stated that the Friday newscasts looked like “Big Boob Fridays,” and that as a result of at least one female reporter wearing a tighter shirts on Fridays, the station’s ratings did well on Fridays. On information and belief, [General Manager Rich Graziano] was present and stated “hey, whatever works.”
* On or about February 25, 2009 the respondent held a photo shoot for several of its news anchors to be used in promotional pieces. During this shoot, on information and belief, the female anchors were told to be more “sexy.” On information and belief, male anchors were not instructed to be sexy.
We’ve seen a lot of sexual harassment suits that either get thrown out quickly, or quickly settle. Since Sindland was suing a news organization, you had to figure that if there was any merit to Sindland’s claims, Fox 61 would pay and make the issue go away.
Yet here we are, over a year later, and Sindland’s claims just keep chugging along…
In these kinds of employment discrimination cases, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities appoints an investigator to figure out if there is any merit to the claims. And in Sindland’s case, that investigator found Sindland’s allegations compelling. The Connecticut Employment Law Blog tipped us off:
CT News Junkie reports this morning that the CHRO has found “reasonable cause” in the gender discrimination complaint filed by former Fox 61 Reporter Shelly Sindland last year.
According to the report:
“Anita Zakrzewski, a Connecticut CHRO investigator, concluded last month in a 23-page report that “the information gathered through the investigative process reveals that workplace conduct occurred that was unwelcome and offensive.”
Topping the list of unwelcome and offensive for Sindland and former anchors Rebecca Stewart and Susan Christensen was the “Naked News” and “Big Boob Fridays” discussion.”
You’re back? Sorry, I was just deleting my “ATL: Itty-Bitty Thursdays” pitch from my Word docs folder.
Moving on… at this point, shouldn’t Fox just pay this woman? I don’t think they want any part of what’s going to happen next:
In any event, barring her filing the case in court, the case now potentially proceeds to a public hearing where evidence will be presented to a human rights referee who will oversee the matter.
Any time your news organization has an opportunity to have a public hearing in front of a “human rights referee,” your employment lawyers might need to take some CLE.
Followup: CHRO Finds “Reasonable Cause” in Fox 61 Gender Discrimination Claim [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]