Employees at Comcast call centers described various acts of sexual harassment that took place over a span of years as the company "failed to protect them."
In a story written by Bryce Covert at Jezebel, the experiences of the six current and former employees she interviewed were verified by friends and former colleagues who either witnessed the acts of abuse take place, were told about it, or experienced misconduct themselves.
The #MeToo movement has become the most intense topic of conversation within the advertising and media industries over the past few months, with organizations like Diet Madison Avenue sparking discussion, debate, and the exits of high-profile executives at various agencies.
However, Covert noted, "just under 1,200 sexual harassment complaints made at the EEOC in the information industry—which includes telecom companies like Comcast—between 2005 and 2015. And now these women at Comcast, who worked in a blue-collar workplace, many of them women of color, have come together to try to do something about what was inflicted on them.”
Even further, methods to dissipate or rectify the culture at these call centers, which included lewd gestures, open dating amongst coworkers, and physical acts of sexual harassment, were limited to training videos for the accusers to watch, often alone. In a study done by the Harvard Business Review, such videos and other training programs have no effect on stopping sexual harassment in the workplace — but promoting women does.
One specific story in the Jezebel piece, of call center representative Laterrica Perry (who is still employed at Comcast), had looked to transfer out of her role and into another part of the company's business. A supervisor initially told her he'd assist, but she added, “he would write the recommendation letter, but there would be strings attached,” she said. Initially thought of as a joke, the supervisor soon requested to date her, and in return, he'd write up the recommendation. After a three-month process where she said he “was allowed to go around and tell people those lies and slander my name,” that supervisor was fired.
Comcast had failed to give comment on Covert's piece, but sent over their workplace harassment policy. Comcast-owned NBCUniversal has seen Matt Lauer, former anchor of the Today Show, fired from the post he held for 20 years under allegations of sexual harassment.