Megyn Kelly Writer Fired after Reporting Bullying to NBC Execs

NBC is providing an unintentional example of how hard it can be to change workplace culture.

After a sexual harassment scandal involving Matt Lauer forced the network to fire the star anchorman, new rules were instituted at the company including a “culture assessment” of the news division and requirements for all employees to undergo anti-harassment training.

The new rules also require staff to report any inappropriate behavior to human resources, a superior, or the company anti-harassment phone line. Failure to do so could be seen as covering up for colleagues and grounds for firing. That is what a writer for the Megyn Kelly show thought he was doing when he reported bullying and workplace harassment that he had observed to NBC’s human resources department.

According to the former employee, the two top executives for the Megyn Kelly show regularly bully the lower-level staff. He called the atmosphere on set “toxic and demeaning.” Ironically, Megyn Kelly has made ending abuse her personal crusade.

The former worker also said it was hard to produce daily stories for the show about harassment while the staff themselves felt continually bullied and harassed. He claims that one top executive repeatedly calls her assistant an idiot and that veteran staffers are looking for other positions at NBC or to leave the network entirely.

In addition to informing human resources and NBC News president, Noah Oppenheim, of the problems at the show, the man reportedly chronicled incidents that happened at work over 24 days in an email that he sent to colleagues. The email details the hostile work environment on set and what he calls “abusive treatment” and dysfunctional management,” but does not implicate Megyn Kelly in any way.

In a report by the Daily Mail, an NBC representative denied the man’s allegations and said that the producers of the Megyn Kelly show were excellent and experienced and enjoyed the full support of their staff. The representative also said that the accuser was let go because “he was the wrong fit” for a morning news broadcast. In addition to serving as a former speechwriter for President Obama, the fired worker had won multiple Emmys for his writing on “The Daily Show.”

Accusations of Retaliation

Employers are prohibited by law from retaliating against workers who file a complaint, something the former writer said feared because he overheard his bosses talking about replacing staffers who might speak up against harassment in the workplace. In New Jersey, workers are protected from retaliation by several laws including the New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). Whistleblowers are covered by the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).

Employees who are terminated, demoted, or have other adverse employment actions taken against them as a result of filing a complaint about their employer have a right to seek compensation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard D. McCombe
Richard D. McComber was admitted to the New Jersey and Federal District Court Bars and then served as a Captain in the United States Army, Judge Advocate General Corps, for three years in Washington, D.C. Upon his discharge from the Army, he joined the law firm of Giordano, Giordano & Halleran, later Giordano, Halleran & McOmber. Thereafter, he left that firm to start a new firm with his wife, Adrienne H. McOmber. His primary practice areas include business law, employment law, estate planning, land use, real estate, sexual harassment and hostile work environment, wills, and trusts.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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