The $55 million verdict in favor of Erin Andrews, in her case against a Nashville hotel over nude videos that were leaked to the internet, is a small victory for the American hotel guest, but moreover, it is an indicator of the importance of thorough employee training.
Andrews is an ESPN sportscaster who had an emotional trial earlier this year after having videos of her leaked to the internet by a stalker in 2009. The videos were filmed through the peephole of Andrews’ hotel room door after the stalker was allegedly given Andrews’ room number, as well as a neighboring room of his own. Andrews says that she was not notified when a guest requested a room near hers, and that the hotel failed to take her safety and privacy into consideration. The jury agreed, sending a strong message to hotels across the country that if they allow guests to have their privacy violated, it may end up costing them.
The guilt may not end with Barret or the Nashville hotel franchise, however. During in-court testimony, Andrews levied accusation against her employer, ESPN, saying that they forced her to do an on-air interview about the incident before she would be allowed to resume coverage of college football. Andrews chose to do the interview with Oprah Winfrey because Winfrey has been vocal about her own experiences of abuse.
Despite Andrews citing extreme anxiety around doing the interview on television, and having been through an extremely troubling and invasive ordeal, she didn’t wish to relive the experience, but did it anyway because it was presented as the only way she would be allowed to resume work.
Obviously, mistakes were made on many individual levels in this case. The hotel should not have allowed this to happen, and this verdict sends a message to other hotels that they need to make their guests’ overall security a priority. Additionally, the case has brought up the issue regarding ESPN’s handling of Andrews’ experiences.
If an employer hears about an employee experiencing sexual harassment of any kind, that business should recognize the sensitivity required in response. Unfortunately, Andrews felt compelled to relive her experiences on an international stage.
Across the board, this incident has been a stark reminder that we have a long way to go in terms of training businesses and their employees to respect the rights and privacy of others. This time, it was the patron of a business that was targeted for sexual harassment. But anybody can be targeted and that’s why it is always important to have proper training in the workplace around individual rights and the responsibility that falls on businesses to respect those rights.
With the right training in place at the hotel and at ESPN, Andrews could have avoided a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. At TMI Action, we’d be happy to bring this training to you. Contact us today to find out more.