Fair Weather Employers

The Weather Channel, currently marketing itself as a television channel worth millions, perhaps billions, to would be buyers, faces the bad choices made by the leadership of that channel. Instead of firing Bob Stokes when the first female co-anchor complained of sexual harassment, management moved the co-anchor to an unfavorable overnight shift and kept the viewer favorite Stokes on t.v. Once a second female co-anchor complained of sexual harassment and on-air retaliation for the rebuffed advances by Stokes, management followed the same actions. Later, the channel notified the co-anchor her contract would not be renewed.

But this time, Hillary Andrews, the second co-anchor, took action. Ultimately, the matter ended up before an arbitrator and both parties AGREED to keep the decision confidential. This agreement should prohibit the publication of the arbitrator’s decision, however, a Federal Judge will make that call ultimately.

The Weather Channel is not denying any of the allegations made by Andrews and fired Stokes.

Should the Weather Channel be rewarded for ignoring sexual harassment complaints, encouraging that behavior by demoting the victims and doing nothing apparent for their star? NO. Should the entertainment industry (yep, Weather Channel included) be held to a different standard than other employers? No. Decisions made by management sought to protect and retain a popular on-air host and devalued and dehumanized two women.

Whether or not the arbitrator’s decision in made public-ANY COMPANY SEEKING TO PURCHASE THE WEATHER CHANNEL should be wary of management. As part of their investigation prior to purchase, suitors should demand a copy of the arbitrator’s decision, I’m sure Ms. Andrews’ and her counsel would not object.

The Weather Channel management created this problem for itself by fostering Stokes’ behavior. Now, the management and the Channel will suffer the financial consequences.

Thank you, Ms. Andrews.

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2008/05/07/channel_0508.html

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