Federal Report Alleges ‘Widespread Sexual Harassment’ At AccuWeather
A federal investigation into State College-based AccuWeather alleges the existence of a hostile work environment based on allegations from more than two dozen employees.
The Associated Press obtained the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ report, which found “widespread sexual harassment” that was “so severe and pervasive that some female employees resigned.” None of the accused individuals were mentioned by name in the report.
“AccuWeather discriminated against female employees on the basis of their sex by subjecting them to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment,” the report reads. “AccuWeather did not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct any sexually harassing or offensive behavior. AccuWeather failed to take action to promptly correct or prevent the unlawful behavior.”
The report alleges various behaviors like “unwelcome touching and hugging and kissing” and sexual relationships between executives and subordinates in exchange for promotion. In one instance, a female employee was supposedly terminated shortly after others overheard her complaining about these sexual relationships.
According to the report, AccuWeather was aware of these claims but “took no action to correct the unlawful activity.” The company, however, continues to be qualified as a federal contractor.
“AccuWeather clearly denied the allegations and claims raised after the audit, and we continue to deny the allegations and claims,” said Rhonda Seaton, AccuWeather’s director of marketing and communications. “We determined it was much more productive and effective to use this opportunity to partner with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) voluntarily in order to further enhance our strong programs to promote the highest standards of workplace inclusion and diversity rather than spend time and money on protracted legal negotiations.”
The federal report said company policy stated that employees should report sexual harassment to the Ombudsman Committee, but that this committee didn’t exist at the time of the investigation. The report claims no action was taken when employees raised concerns with supervisors or human resources.
Seaton said AccuWeather signed a conciliation agreement with the OFCPP last June that “confirmed [the company’s] compliance with, and implementation of, continuing and enhanced equal opportunity programs to strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
The company has enhanced existing initiatives and implemented further measures, including an annual engagement survey, anti-harassment and diversity and inclusion training, a concern line “to ensure due process of complaints” operated by a third party, updated handbook and policies, integrated culture programs, and training on unconscious bias.
The federal report, dated January 2018, was reported nationally over the weekend because former AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers has been nominated to serve as the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere within the United States Department of Commerce. Myers, who is not named as the subject of any allegations within the report, served as the CEO of AccuWeather from 2007 until he stepped down on January 1.
You can read the full report compiled by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs here.
Note: Onward State is produced independently by Penn State students and published by Lazerpro Digital Media Group, which is owned by Dan Myers, son of AccuWeather founder and president Joel Myers and nephew of now-former AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers. All content is produced autonomously.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of the story misquoted the federal report to say “female executives resigned” rather than “female employees resigned.” This has since been corrected and we apologize for the error.
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