There were reports that surfaced about Vice, the giant media conglomerate, where former female staff expressed concerns about a culture of “sexual harassment” propagated at Vice by its male staff. Female staff currently employed at Vice told reporters they were unable to comment about potential sexual misconduct due to having signed various “non-traditional” workplace NDAs. Well, the Vice subsidiary, Waypoint, has called out its parent company over this issue and has asked for revisions.
The piece was published on November 16th, 2017 following the original allegations that surfaced in a report on The Daily Beast. The staff from the main Vice branch issued their own the matter shortly after the sexual misconduct allegations arose, keeping it brief and contained with a barely-visible tweet on November 15th, 2017. It was put together by the Vice labor union.
Vice Union statement on workplace sexual harassment: pic.twitter.com/YbGlZSuQgJ
— VICE Union (@viceunion) November 15, 2017
For those of you unable to read it, it states…
“We, the members of Vice Union, first organized our fellow workes in 2015 with the express intent of improving workplace conditions and creating positive change here at Vice. In so doing, we’ve challenged the company to adapt, and worked hard to achieve a better standard for every employee. We have been vocal in our concerns about gender equity and ensuring our workplace is an environment in which everyone feels safe, respected, and valued, and will continue to demand that the company recognize and respond to these concerns in full. We stand in solidarity with those who had the bravery to come forward about sexual harassment, and with every survivor of sexual harassment and sexual violence. Our continuing goal is to make this a safer, more equitable place for every worker.”
The issue some had is that only the female staff no longer working there could go on record to talk about the issues. This resulted in the firings of former staff journalists Michael Hafford and Sam Kriss, both of whom were accused of sexual assault and attempted rape.
The reason only former staff could speak up was because current staff at Vice fear that the NDAs they signed could lead to legal repercussions. Waypoint’s staff, consisting of Patrick Klepek, Danika Harrod, Danielle Riendeau, Austin Walker, Natalie Watson, and Rob Zacny, called out the use of the NDAs as a way to silence staff about possible workplace misconduct, writing…
“As a media company, VICE often reports on uncomfortable, difficult matters, and it is important that a policy is in place to inform its workers that they may encounter potentially upsetting material. However, as written currently, the non-traditional workplace agreement is vague at best and odious at worst.
“The purpose of such an agreement should be to allow reporters the freedom to investigate complex, often unpleasant topics, but lines like “I agree to hold VICE harmless from any and all claims I may have based upon VICE’s workplace environment…” are irresponsible and provide cover for bad actors. This not only puts people in direct danger, but also actively discourages those who would report misconduct from doing so.
“This agreement must be re-evaluated and revised. Full stop.”
According to the rest of the letter, they are challenging the management at Vice to reevaluate how they conduct workplace safety measures, more-so instead of being reactive to sexual harassment charges and sexual misconduct reports, the company should be proactive in preventing such cases from happening.
They claim that there needs to be stronger preventative measures in place to keep sexual misconduct from taking place and that the company needs to insure the safety of those working at the media giant no matter which office or branch they’re working for.
They pat themselves on the back by rounding out the piece with the following…
“We must continue to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct and targets of all kinds of abuse. As long as there is a Waypoint, we will continue to investigate difficult subject matter with integrity, offer transparency into the decision making that guides our publication.
“We’ve spoken to leadership at editorial channels across VICE, and they have voiced their support and commitment to equitability and safety in the workplace (and many have been working internally for a long time on improving these very conditions). “
So far, Waypoint has not been accused of any workplace related sexual misconduct… yet. However, Waypoint has been called out multiple times for journalistic malfeasance, especially just recently when Patrick Klepek failed to verify the identity of someone who claimed to be a developer working for EA who had received thousands of attacks regarding the Star Wars: Battlefront II loot box scandal. In reality, the man did not work for Electronic Arts and there was no record of their staff receiving massive amounts of death threats.
Nevertheless, Vice’s pro-feminist, male-ally facade has quickly fallen away and the ugly truth about the organization has seeped out into the public forum. Vice claims that they will be investigating further sexual misconduct allegations, internally.
(Thanks for the news tip Hawk)