"Tribune Co. employee claims sexual harassment": As shocking headlines go, that's right up there with "Dog bites man." What else do you expect at a company that make lewd jokes about a female executive in a press release?
Shelly Sindland, a political reporter for WTIC-TV (a.k.a. Fox 61) in Hartford, Connecticut, has filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, citing a litany of age- and gender-related complaints. Among them: that a female anchor was demoted after she refused to participate in a "Naked News" promotion; that the station's news director encouraged female reporters to wear tight shirts on camera on Fridays to help ratings; and that Sindland and other female on-air personnel were systematically pushed aside in favor of younger counterparts.
Why is this not more surprising? Perhaps because WTIC is part of Tribune Co., whose chairman, Sam Zell, made a point of blurring the company's definition of harassment in one of his first official actions, exhorting employees to tolerate bawdy jokes in the interest of maintaining a "loose, fun, non-linear atmosphere." A few months later Zell, or someone close to him, cracked just such a joke in a press release announcing the hire of Kim Johnson; the release said that the new senior vice president of local sales was "a former waitress at 'Knockers, the place for hot racks and cold brews.'"
It's a short hop from "Knockers" to "Big Boob Fridays." If the chairman does it, it's not harassment, right?
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