I know, I know, you didn’t know. The allegations are shocking and upsetting. You’ve known him for years as a colleague and a friend, and you never imagined he was capable of sexual harassment.
Next time, it might be helpful to keep an eye out for some of the early warning signs that the genius/talent/boss working at your company has engaged in, or might possibly be intending to engage in, a pattern of sexual harassment.
1. He has a clause in his contract that specifically protects him against allegations of sexual harassment
This was reportedly the case for former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, who paid up at least six times to settle allegations of sexual harassment, according to the New York Times.
A report from the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority, based on an interview with a independent Fox director, explains: “Once Bill O’Reilly’s contract was ready for renewal, the board ensured that a clause was inserted to state that he could be dismissed on the grounds of an allegation against him without it having to be proved in court.”
Such a clause is typically not required for people who do not have long histories of sexual harassment allegations.
2. He has a secret button under his desk that allows him to lock the door remotely, and he uses it to lock women in his office
Today show anchor Matt Lauer, who was fired by NBC News on Nov. 29 over sexual harassment allegations, reportedly had such a button in his office, as do other executives at NBC. The mechanism “allowed him,” Variety reported, “to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.”
3. A joke made on national television referencing his history of sexual harassment is understood by everyone in the room
“Congratulations,” Oscars host Seth MacFarlane told the Academy Award nominees for best supporting actress in 2013, “you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” Though it was years before the New York Times and The New Yorker would expose decades of sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein, the joke drew a knowing laugh from the auditorium that night. Similar nods to Weinstein’s behavior appeared in 30 Rock and Entourage.
4. His behavior is something you might describe as “an open secret”
If none of the first three hints on this list emerge, it’s important to check for one last sign that you are currently employing a sexual predator: Everybody knows.
According to Variety: “Lauer’s conduct was not a secret among other employees at ‘Today.’”
According to the New York Times: “[Weinstein’s] alleged behavior became something of a Hollywood open secret.”
Women who spoke to the New York Times regarding sexual harassment allegations against the comedian Louis C.K. noted “other allegations swirling around the entertainment world.”
But really, who could have known?