Broadcaster boss fired over allegations of sexually threatening behavior

Scales of justice and gavel on law book
Scales of justice and gavel on law bookPhoto: tomloel/DepositPhotos

Broadcaster Omroep Zeeland may dismiss a 61-year-old chief editor, a court ruled on Thursday. The man became discredited at the broadcaster because he was accused of sexually harassing two female colleagues after getting drunk at an office party, and then he posted a blog on Facebook featuring the famous photo of a drunk sailor kissing a dentist assistant on Times Square after the victory over Japan in 1945, RTL Z reports.

Early this year Omroep Zeeland launched an investigation into the man due to allegations of sexually threatening behavior. During a farewell drink for a colleague at a bar in Middelburg, the man reportedly drank too much and then harassed two female colleagues. The investigation concluded that the man had molested the two women.

The broadcaster took the matter seriously, but allowed the man to keep his job under strict conditions. This was done because the man had been employed there for decades - since 1989 - showed regret, and had not previously been disciplined for sexual harassment. 

In March the man was again in hot water. On his personal Facebook page he posted a blog in which he wrote about the Alfred Eisenstaedt photo of a drunk sailor kissing a dentist assistant. A number of his colleagues found it unacceptable that the man posted this blog against the background of his recent transgressions and the current #MeToo movement. They no longer wanted to work with the man. 

Omroep Zeeland suspended the man and went to court to dismiss him. In court the man described the sexual harassment of his colleagues as a serious exaggeration and said that the editor-in-chief just wanted to dismiss him over statements he made in another area.

The court ruled that Omroep Zeeland cannot dismiss the man due to the sexual harassment, because the broadcaster already dealt with it with a reprimand, according to RTL Z. The judge also does not consider the Facebook post a sufficient reason for dismissal. Yet the court ruled that the man can be dismissed, because the employment relationship was so seriously disrupted that he can not continue to work there.

Omroep Zeeland has to pay the man the regular transition fee, and must continue to pay him until the end of his notice period in September. The broadcaster does not have to pay the extra compensation the man demanded, because Omoep Zeeland did not do anything wrong, the court ruled.