When it comes to workplace sexual harassment, no one should seek to be a harasshole. But there is something harassholes often do that betches should make a practice—that is, documenting all workplace sexual harassment and how your employer handles it.
Harassholes keep score on who gets passes for inappropriate behavior because the information may give them leverage when an employer tries to hold them accountable for sexual harassment while allowing other harassholes to run amuck.
Case in point: the audacious lawsuit hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick filed in New York on Friday against his former employer, NBC.
Here’s the gist: Way back in December 2019, before COVID terrorized us all, Roenick went on a “cheeky” Barstool Sports podcast as a guest. While on the podcast, the 50-year-old offered off-color commentary on his NBC co-host’s “ass and boobs” before explaining how he led strangers to believe he was having a threesome with his wife and co-host. Real professional, right?
After suspending Roenick for a few months, NBC fired him in February 2020. Now the hockey star is suing the network, claiming NBC discriminated against him as a heterosexual man.
According to Roenick, NBC didn’t punish a gay figure-skating analyst who made sexualized—albeit scripted—comments about his co-host while the two were acting together in a parody promotional video. Roenick says, when he brought the matter to an NBC exec, he was told that the analyst “is gay and can say whatever.”
Yes, there’s a lot to unpack there, but don’t get distracted. Roenick’s basically saying NBC should have given him a pass on his filthy remarks about his co-host because the network gave another man a pass.
When you’re done rolling your eyes at Roenick’s audacity, let’s discuss the ever-so important takeaway from his case: when it comes to workplace sexual harassment, betches need to document, document, document.
Documenting sexual harassment you and your colleagues experience, and your employer’s response to the harassment, is among the most effective ways you can maintain the upper hand should things go south and you need to fight your employer for failing to enforce the rules.
Let me explain.
Employers say they’re anti-discrimination, claiming they consistently enforce the rules by punishing harassholes, their popularity or your unpopularity notwithstanding. In reality, employers also give passes to people they like, creating a host of problems for everyone. The unfairness of it all gives rise to discrimination lawsuits—that is, if there’s documentation showing the employer is not enforcing its rules.
By “documentation” I mean “What is written down, printed, recorded, photocopied, saved? What do you have to support your account about your experiences?”
Sure, you may remember details well and never lose your car keys. But when it comes to workplace sexual harassment, it’s still best to have documentation because memories fade and documents are harder to manipulate. Also, while your word may be good enough for your mom, the patriarchy makes a woman’s word a hard sell more than half the time.
That’s why you document your version of the events with notes about encounters, dated-diary entries about conversations, text message chains and photos saved to the clou,; PDF copies of emails, papers, and websites, and so on. You hold onto anything that provides enough detail to refresh your recollection of the events should things go off the rails down the line and you need to back up your word should it be put to the test.
Harassholes and shady employers unapologetically lie and suddenly lose documents. You must be prepared.
…much like Roenick, whose ten-year tenure at NBC is over, to his complete and utter surprise. That’s right—the former hockey gawd never saw it coming, as he insists his firing is one of the “biggest raw deals of all time.” (Who knew you could lose your job for gratuitously sexualizing your co-worker’s anatomy on a popular podcast and bragging about misleading others into thinking you’re intimately throupled with her and your spouse?)
Despite the supposed blindsiding, Roenick had the wherewithal to document how his employer treated him and others who acted up, giving him fodder for a lawsuit that may or may not end with Roenick taking home a settlement check.
You, too, should be boldly protecting your professional interests should your employer act up or let harassholes run amok, as documentation can make or break your future.
Adrienne Lawrence is an on-air legal analyst and the author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment (TarcherPerigee, 2020). Lawrence has contributed her insight on workplace sexual harassment for outlets such as the Harvard Business Review and NPR. Follow her on Twitter @AdrienneLaw and IG @AdrienneLawrence.
Images: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, appears to be having a Trump-like breakdown today, illegally threatening to fire any employees who unionize, or rather, even DM about unionizing.
This man calls himself “El Presidente” so I don’t know why anyone’s surprised that he’s a controlling maniac, and a quick browse through his Twitter shows a movie-esque villain desperate for attention anywhere he can get it. And that’s to say nothing of a survey of Barstool’s nauseating editorial offerings, which at one point included a slut-shaming opus about a 23-year-old college student who was found murdered.
While we all know people like this, it’s a whole different ball game (sports reference, thank you) when the person tweeting nonsense actually has power over the sizeable staff of Barstool Sports. While Portnoy sold majority control of the company to Chernin Group in 2016, he’s still in charge of content and clearly has major pull on anything that happens around the office.
The Twitter drama all started on Monday when Portnoy tweeted out an old rant published to Barstool about how much he hates unions. He was apparently inspired to re-up the rant after hearing the news that The Ringer, another online sports publication, announced their intention to unionize with the Writer’s Guild of America East.
Portnoy like realllllly hates unions, so much so it seems like they send him into a psychotic break, although that may just be his constant state of being. The rant from four years ago, which Portnoy originally posted after news broke about the unionization of Gawker employees, seems like something most self-respecting media people pray would never resurface.
Imagine your boss threatening to dump rats in the wall and mocking you for thinking you deserve health insurance. Ah, being a writer in New York City, it really is the Carrie Bradshaw fantasy!!
After Portnoy reposted his views on unionization that at any other company would be considered a PR nightmare, Rafi Letzter, a staff writer at Live Science, which is unionized under the WGA East, tweeted an offer to share information on unionization to anyone from Barstool who DM’ed him.
The National Labor Rights Act of 1935 prohibits unfair labor practices, which include attempts “to dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization or contribute financial or other support to it.”
You would think this would send shivers down the spine of any company founder and they would immediately come to their senses and tweet an apology or at the very least an explanation of their extreme views. But not “El Presidente!”
Now since Commander Waterford Portnoy is tweeting to the world that he will illegally fire any employee who even discusses unionizing, you know he’s monitoring what his employees are messaging about so…under his eye Barstool, under his eye.
When people started tweeting back at “El Presidente” (puke) that threatening to fire employees for anything involving unionization is like…super illegal, he double downed on his stance while simultaneously bragging about his all mighty sports blogger power.
And they say all the good guys are taken!
Even the New York State Department of Labor chimed in to set the record straight.
It is illegal to take any unfavorable action – including termination – against employees for union-related activities under the National Labor Relations Act.
New York is a proud union state. We say no way, no how to intimidation, threats and union busting. https://t.co/r71he7K2kl
— NYS Dept of Labor (@NYSLabor) August 13, 2019
To which “El Presidente” didn’t directly respond, perhaps because he was too busy inviting Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to debate him after she tweeted her two cents.
Has this man not watched the news in the past year!? You will not win a debate against AOC bro! It’s like watching the Knicks challenge the Raptors…stay in your lane man. (2nd sports reference somebody please call my Dad!!)
Whether Portnoy is serious about his threats or just terrible at joking — which judging by a brief look at the Barstool Homepage he is — the point is, it’s only a matter of time before he’s canceled, whether it’s this scandal that takes him down or June from “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Until then, he’s enjoying giving President Trump, kindred spirit, the day off as the most outrageous white man on Twitter.
Oh, and just in case you’re not caught up Portnoy, the bad guys aren’t doing so hot in The Handmaid’s Tale!