Bill O'Reilly "will not return to the Fox News Channel," the company announced in a statement Wednesday. He was let go amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment and an advertiser boycott aimed at his top-rated cable news show, "The O'Reilly Factor."
O'Reilly, who has hosted the show since 1996, left for vacation shortly after The New York Times published a lengthy report detailing five allegations of sexual harassment from women who appeared on, or worked for, The O'Reilly Factor. O'Reilly and 21st Century Fox reportedly paid about $13 million in settlements in those cases.
The accusers "have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating, according to documents and interviews," the Times reported. O'Reilly has flatly denied these claims.
A lawyer representing a clerical worker who worked at Fox News said on Tuesday that her client was sexually and racially harassed by the O'Reilly and had reported it to an anonymous Fox hotline.
Representatives for Fox News and 21st Century Fox did not respond to request to comment for this story.
New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported on Tuesday that 21st Century Fox's owner Rupert Murdoch was considering terminating the host's contract but that a final decision hadn't been made. He was "leaning toward announcing that O’Reilly will not return to the air" as Fox executives raised concerns about revenue losses from the advertiser boycott. Female employees have also increasingly voiced frustration over the company's response to the sexual harassment allegations.
If the allegations are true, it would reflect a broader trend in workplace harassment.
There were nearly 7,000 claims of sexual harassment, primarily from female employees, submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2015 — about half of which resulted in no charges. Though 7,000 claims is a significant statistic, sexual harassment in the workplace is likely much more common than that. As the Guardian reported, according to a YouGov/Huffington Post poll, nearly 75 percent of workers who experience sexual harassment do not report it to their employers,
Sexual harassment exists across a wide range of industries. The highest rates of reported sexual harassment are seen in the construction, transportation, trade industries, as well as in the education and health services sectors, according to a 2011 report from the American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.