There is most certainly power in numbers. This fact was curtly evinced this week by the revelations of Bill O'Reilly's multiple sexual harassment cases. Lisa Bloom, a civil rights lawyer, said this week that there are, “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five but six," alleged sexual harassment cases against Bill O'Reilly.
And she, on behalf of her client Dr. Wendy Walsh, is calling for an independent investigation into the practices that allowed such cases to accumulate unnoticed over time.
Dr. Wendy Walsh is a psychologist who worked on O'Reilly's show “The O'Reilly Factor" as an expert on a 2013 segment called “Are We Crazy."
Walsh had aspirations of a more frequent contribution to FOX - the network the show is hosted on - and voiced these goals to O'Reilly. According to Walsh, the show host encouraged the possibility of an advancement in her career at a dinner one evening. When the dinner ended, Walsh said O'Reilly asked her back to his hotel suite. Upon her refusal, he turned “hostile," she said, and told her she could forget any advice he had given her. In short, he would not be aiding her with her career.
O'Reilly has been suffering an onslaught of bad publicity and an exodus of advertisers since this New York Times report was published last week, explicating the long history of sexual harassment throughout his career, and the pay-off culture rampant within FOX's ranks. In fact, just last year Roger Ailes, former CEO of the network, was fired for the alleged sexual assault against dozens of women. “The culture still lives on," says Bloom, even in the wake of his departure and the scandal attached. Thus, the reason she is calling for an indecent investigation.
Below, SWAAY talks to Bloom about her involvement in the case and her opinion about the sexual harassment O'Reilly has allegedly been committing for many years.
1. Tell us a little about your career - why law?
I've always had a big mouth and a passion to right social justice wrongs. In college I was national debating champion. What else was I going to do?
2. How was it coming up through the legal ranks as a woman? Did you encounter any difficulties along the way?
Of course. The usual gamut of old guys underestimating my intelligence, arrogant superiors sexually harassing me, a partner once saying to an old male client I was meeting with, "would you rather have a male attorney?" (The client said he was happy with me, thank you very much, and later I took the partner aside and told him that wasn't cool.)
Lisa Bloom(L) and Wendy Walsh(R). Photo courtesy of NY Daily NewsI complained about the sexual harassment each time of the three times I experienced it, either directly to the inappropriate [point of contact] or to Human Resources, and it always got resolved to my satisfaction. I insisted on it. I was nervous like anyone else. But I could not bear to think that if I did not complain, these guys would do it to other women who would be even more afraid than I was.
3. When and why did you decide to start your own firm?
After eight years hosting my own show on Court TV (2001-2009), I was ready to return to my hometown of Los Angeles, write books and start my own firm. Everywhere I've ever worked I thought I could manage the place better than the bosses were managing it. Now was my chance to see if that was true. I wanted to fight for justice for people and causes I believe in. Luckily my husband is a skilled, successful entrepreneur so he has always advised on the business side: when to hire, when to fire, when to take a new lease for a bigger office. I oversee the ten lawyers we have now, decide which cases to take, handle the big ones myself, and all the media in our many high profile cases, because that's tricky, and fun for me. It works for us.
"This network is the Bill Cosby of corporate America."
4. You've had a pretty lucrative career - what's your recipe for success?
5. You list Bill O'Reilly as a TV personality that has interviewed you - how is it now representing someone in a case against him?
Delightful. He is a despicable human being who has been exceedingly rude to me, and who has hurt many women. He deserves everything he is getting, from the New York Times exposing his many settlements, to my client Dr. Wendy Walsh and me speaking out, to advertisers fleeing. Karma's a bitch, Bill.
6. Have you dealt with sexual harassment cases in the past?
Yes, I've been doing discrimination and harassment cases for thirty years. I currently handle many sexual harassment cases. My law firm's core work is civil rights work: gender, race, LGBTQ rights, disability, you name it, we fight for it.
7. When did you and Ms. Walsh meet?
We both have appeared frequently on CNN and HLN, and I think we met there, years ago. We became friends. I was pleased to attend a charity event where she was honored for her domestic violence work, and she came as my date to an Emmy awards gala. We both have been single moms and believe in empowering women. So when a NY Times reporter asked if she'd tell her story, I encouraged her to do it, and promised I'd stand by her as she did. I couldn't be prouder of how she's handled herself.
8. Does Fox's ineptitude dealing with these cases suitably reflect the entertainment industry's stance on sexual harassment as a whole?
Sexual harassment is rampant in the entertainment industry, but Fox News is the worst I am aware of. Dozens and dozens of women, tens of millions in payouts, and no end in sight: until we make it end.
9. You said in a recent press conference that FOX believes it can simply pay off woman to keep harassers in their jobs - are other corporations indulging in this behavior?
Many companies pay sexual harassment settlements -- I've negotiated many, nothing wrong with that outcome. But nearly every company will fire a man who continues to sexually harass women after the first incident. There's just too much liability to keep him on.
10. How do the President's comments on O'Reilly's innocence affect your case?
Trump did not say he disbelieved the allegations -- he said that O'Reilly did nothing wrong. I think that was honest. Trump does not think sexual harassment is wrong. How disgusting that this man is President, that he stands for his fellow alleged harasser, instead of for the women of America. Trump is the most overtly misogynist president in my lifetime, maybe in all of US history. Hold on to those pussy hats, ladies. We're going to need them.
"I don't think Bill did anything wrong." -Donald Trump
11. What, in your opinion, should happen to O'Reilly and how can this case be used to set a precedent for workplace sexual harassment cases in the future?
He should be fired. That may happen. The women who complained and were then driven out should be brought back, and Fox News should apologize to all of them. That will never happen
If this powerful moneymaker is toppled because of his treatment of women, it will send a powerful message that women's rights matter. Stay tuned.
Photo Credit: afewgoodclicks.com
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