While the #MeToo movement is credited with taking down big names in the worlds of Hollywood, Washington, and major media companies, the backlash really began before numerous women accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in October 2017.
Fox News chairman Roger Ailes was fired after multiple sexual harassment claims in the spring of 2016 and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was terminated that summer. With such a corporate culture, perhaps it’s not surprising that a general manager and a host at an affiliate – Fox 44 in Vermont – are facing accusations by two women of sexual harassment.
A Good Ole Boys’ Club
Former Fox 44/ABC 22 photographer and backup director Desiree Roberts claims harassment and discrimination forced her resignation. Her complaints state that news anchor Mike Hoey behaved in an extremely offensive manner with the women at the station, including using obscene language and making fun of them.
Roberts’ suit alleges that the first time she worked with Hoey when not wearing either a parka or bulky sweater, he spent the entire time leering at her chest. Her suit states that Hoey made reference to his genitals and made graphic sexual insults.
Former sales executive Catherine Iraheta filed a lawsuit naming general manager Craig Marrs – who has since retired – and station owners Nexstar Broadcasting. Her complaint states that Marrs and his sale team were “a good ole boys’ club” that not only demeaning the women working with them but deprived them of sales opportunities.
Iraheta’s lawsuit states that Marrs commented he was surprised there were "attractive, successful, and well-educated women in Vermont." Other male co-workers described women as “slutty” or “flighty.” She alleges she was sexually harassed by Marrs, who called her “the hot new sales rep” and made comments about her legs.
Iraheta also alleges that male sales reps shared photos of naked women in sexual positions with the sales team, and that one member of the team told her in detail about his sexual experiences with certain women.
Forced to Resign
Iraheta eventually felt forced to leave her job because of the atmosphere at the station. At one meeting, she claims Marrs aggressively berated her, and when she attempted to speak, he looked at her breasts and asked if she was wearing a bathing suit.
Although Marrs apologized the next day, she claims the workplace became “increasingly hostile and discriminatory” from that point forward. Two of her largest accounts were taken from her and given to a male sales rep. She states she was not given relevant information regarding client meetings, although male sales rep did receive this information.
When she told her supervisor, Jesse Alamed, that Nexstar Broadcasting was taking actions that made it impossible for her to retain clients, she was told to resign. In the lawsuit, she states that the resignation was actually a constructive discharge, which means to force out an employee without going through a formal firing.
Neither woman alleges that any of the male employees initiated any physical contact with them. The two women did not work together and their employment at the station only overlapped for a short period.
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