Overview: A woman’s dream job turned into a nightmare when a male coworker began to send sexually explicit text messages to her.
The scenario: When Brittany McHenry found out that she’d be co-hosting a show on Fox News with George Murdoch, she was overjoyed. After all, the assignment was a great opportunity for the on-air reporter to make a name for herself. In many ways, it was her dream job.
But when McHenry began to receive sexually explicit text messages from Murdoch, she realized that the job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
One text from Murdoch read, “I love pony tails and braids and you look amazing and it’s a real turn on; not that I care, but I love it.” Another text read, “I love your legs; f-ck them, you’re beautiful; I love that picture.”
Because she didn’t want to jeopardize her job, McHenry tried to politely tell Murdoch that she wasn’t interested in him sexually.
But that didn’t stop him.
Another Murdoch text read, “I’ll show you what it means to be bad Brittany McHenry. Dick pic coming in 5 sec!!!”
Eventually, Murdoch learned that McHenry had a boyfriend. After that, he became cold toward her, even berating her on air.
McHenry complained about Murdoch, so Fox News investigated her allegations, but concluded that she hadn’t been sexually harassed because Murdoch had “no clear intent to have sex with her.”
Legal challenge: McHenry sued Murdoch for sexual harassment, gender bias and retaliation.
The ruling: Murdoch lost. The court ruled that a jury should decide whether McHenry was harassed and discriminated against because of her gender.
Based on McHenry v. Fox News Network.
(From the Jan. 8, 2021, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To sign up for a free trial subscription right now, please click here.)