The Weather Channel and Sexual Harassment Arbitration
Thursday, December, 6, 2012
This past year, Hillary Andrews, a female co-anchor on The Weather Channel, won an arbitration ruling in her favor against a fellow co-anchor on charges of sexual harassment. According to Ms. Andrews, Bob Stokes, the popular co-anchor with whom she worked, was “romantically obsessed” with her and often made sexually crude remarks such as “will you lick my swizzle stick?” and "it tortures me when you wear those heels and skirt." He also repeatedly questioned her about her sex life.
Fearing that it would result in career suicide, Ms. Andrews dealt with the harassment for awhile before bringing it to the attention of The Weather Channel’s management. When she did finally tell them what was happening, she was reassigned to a less prestigious position with overnight hours instead of being given a new co-anchor, as she requested.
The significance of the arbitration ruling went beyond restitution for Ms. Andrews, however. The Weather Channel’s management also suffered a blow in reputation due to the fact that according to Ms. Andrews, the final ruling was “highly critical of conduct by both Stokes and TWC management.” In an attempt to keep the 17-page report issued by the arbitrator a secret, the network fired Stokes the day after the arbitration award was issued and is now, according to Ms. Andrews, “understandably eager to assure that the Arbitrator’s findings and conclusions never see the light of day.”
Andrews was hired by The Weather Channel in September of 2003, replacing a female “on-camera meteorologist” who had been working with Stokes for the past three years and receiving the same sexual harassment treatment. According to documents, the woman had complained to TWC’s management about the harassment, but nothing had been done. Andrews arbitration victory was proof that it is possible to keep history from repeating itself and she wants to make sure the public knows about the events that occurred.
This is another example of the success that arbitration hearings can have in settling sexual harassment claims. As a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), arbitration is an effective solution that can keep both parties out of costly and public litigation.