Testimony: Bill O’Reilly's contract virtually allowed him to sexually harass women, unless proven in court

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/09/testimony-bill-oreillys.html

No idea why this should be controversial – hell, it should be something that all employees are entitled to by law, not merely those lucky few (a) with contracts, and (b) able to negotiate such a provisions into their contracts.


EEeeeeewwww! Just EEEEeeeeewwwww!


Never settle - never sign an NDA!


That is bullshit. If a bunch of women at my work complained to my higher ups that I was sexually harassing them you’d better believe I wouldn’t be able to use “prove it in court, b****!” to avoid termination.

If your employer has good reason to believe you’re behaving in an illegal or inappropriate way at work they should be able to fire you for it, whether you’re suspected of spitting in the customers’ burgers or engaging in sexually predatory behavior.


You are correct, you would not be able to use that response. Which was my point. We give employers quite a bit of power to adjudicate workplace disputes. I saw nothing in the original text that limited this protection to issues of sexual harassment - it states that he could not be “dismissed on the basis of an allegation unless that allegation was proved in court.”

To the extent that such disputes are serious enough to warrant termination, I would not mind that employees had some extra protection from unproven allegations.


nope. sorry. that’s not right. Perhaps men should act like men instead of pussy grabbing assholes, and it would never become an issue.


I saw nothing in the original text that limited this protection to issues of sexual harassment - it states that he could not be “dismissed on the basis of an allegation unless that allegation was proved in court.”

You mention pussy-grabbing men, as if that is the only possible application for unproven allegations.

1 Like

Fast food employee: Sir, you need to do something about Bill. He’s been jerking off into all the mayonnaise tubs again.

Manager: Yes, I’ve heard that from several employees. Unfortunately I am powerless to do anything about it since he has not been convicted of jerking off into the mayonnaise tubs in a court of law.

Employee: But we all saw it. We even got it on security video.

Manager: Out of my hands. Also if you try to tell anyone outside of this organization we’ll sue you for violating your NDA.


If you have evidence and testimonies, take them to the court. I don’t get what you are talking about.


Are you seriously suggesting that no employee should ever be fired for behavior that hasn’t been proven in a court of law? That’s just bananas.

How about this: let the network fire the sexually harassing asshole and if he can show that he was a victim of wrongful termination then HE can sue THEM in a court of law.


Hell…I’m not a lawyer but I believe That any contract with has provisions that allow you ( or force others ) to break the law are likely null and void


Must be nice, most of us don’t have a job like that. The rest of the world is on at-will employment and you lose your job as soon as you’ve become inconvenient for the Human Resources Department.

Having a policy where accusations must be proven in a court has an appeal to it. But it assumes that sexual harassment is given the same weight by the court as say embezzlement. That sexual harassment goes underreported and under-enforced means a requirement like this takes all the teeth out of any anti-harassment policy.

In California the contract clauses like O’Reilly’s is non-binding as his exceptions violates state law. How to handle sexual harassment is spelled out carefully in the state’s employment code and deviation from that is going to be a big problem for your business. If only more states would regulate business conduct more rigorously. (California is not perfect, but sometimes they do get things right)


It’s bananas in the US where you generally suffer from employment at will. In Europe, most countries have a clearly delineated and limited set of reasons for which an employee can be terminated and unless you can prove that the firing was indeed substantiated under one of those provisions in court, you can’t fire the person. It’s really quite easy.


You are conflating procedural matters with burden of proof. Yes, the employee usually has to sue to challenge the termination - but it’s up to the employer to prove that the reasons were present. You know - the general problem of proving negatives etc.


If an employer has good reason to believe that the employee in question was committing a fireable offense then they don’t have to wait for a court conviction before terminating them.

Employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe workplace environment for all employees. They can’t ignore the credible accusations of multiple women claiming a fellow employee has been sexually harassing them simply because those accusations haven’t been proven in a court of law.


You mean the United States is on at-will employment. In the rest of the world, you can’t fire me for sabotaging that $15,000 white elephant of a plotter just because Bob from marketing said he saw me kicking it in frustration last evening.


Ok, I take the point about the order of events. Yes, if you have credible evidence, you terminate first and then you prepare to subsequently defend the move in court. To the degree that O’Reilly’s contract made this impossible and required a previous conviction, it was excessively protective, to the detriment of his coworkers.


That photo perfectly encapsulated how I picture O’Reilly in my head whenever his name comes up.

Europe, Brazil, and Australia are not the entirety of the rest of the world. So you must also include India, the many countries of East Asia and Africa, and many island nations, and about 150 other countries you’ve overlooked. The US is only unusual in being a first world country that has third world labor laws, but those laws are far more common in terms of number of jurisdictions and number of people affected.


This is true. But in the specific case where the reason for firing is “allegations of illegal behavior” then I would like to have a system where someone involved with power has a strong incentive to actually investigate. Actually achieving that would take a lot more than just giving everyone similar protections to what O’Reilly had in his contract, but I think those being universal would be an improvement.

I think there are solutions to that. One could be: you give everyone the kind of protections the police negotiate into their contracts: while the investigations are pending, you are suspended with pay. This encourages the employer to investigate quickly and thoroughly, and avoids punishing the innocent. Ideally that pay would have to be returned if the allegations are true and proven in court. Unequal distribution of labor protections is as big a problem as what those protections are. I would want to be very sure, for example, that the protections would also prevent the company from firing or otherwise retaliating against an employee for making an allegation they believed to be true.

I agree that this is especially tricky in the case specified here, sexual harassment allegations, which are difficult to prove and which are definitely under-reported and too often swept under the rug. I think, in the current world, that specifically negotiating such a provision for one individual is a red flag (though you could argue that an intentionally incendiary personality makes someone more likely to have enemies and therefore need such protections, I think we can assume that was not the reasoning here).