RNZ stands down senior staffer over allegations of sexual harassment

Radio New Zealand office in Wellington.
Radio New Zealand office in Wellington. Photo credit: Google

A senior staffer at Radio New Zealand has been stood down following allegations of sexual harassment, including accusations he referred to female workers under his management as his "harem".

The man has been accused of directing sexist and inappropriate comments towards younger women, with one female worker alleging he did it deliberately to assert a "really revolting power-dynamic difference".

A series of interviews were conducted as part of an external investigation in June. The inquiry found the man, who has taken leave from the state-owned broadcaster, had made some younger female staffers uncomfortable with his behaviour.

Two of the three allegations against the man have been upheld.

The young woman, who did not wish to be identified, says the man's conduct was "creepy" and claims he referred to some of the female staff under his management as his "harem", the New Zealand Herald reports.

She claims the man was reprimanded by senior management for his behaviour and was told by multiple women not to speak to them sexually.

He would allegedly "ogle" women's bodies and make comments about how they dressed.

"The reason I am speaking out is that this shouldn't happen in any workplace... it is unfathomable, it is 2020," the woman said, as reported by the NZ Herald.

Despite the outcome of the investigation, the man was initially permitted to return to work. However, RNZ chief executive and editor-in-chief Paul Thompson later overruled that decision.

Although the woman says RNZ is an "awesome place to work", it's not the first time the broadcaster has been implicated in allegations of sexual harassment. It's understood a man left the organisation in 2019 for inappropriate behaviour with a reporter. 

A following investigation into sexual harassment claims resulted in another man's departure, the NZ Herald reports.

In a statement to the outlet, Thompson said RNZ has "zero tolerance" for any behaviour that breaches the broadcaster's Code of Conduct and Dignity at Work policy.

"As in any organisation, matters around specific individuals and their employment must remain confidential unless otherwise agreed by the employee concerned, however, all allegations of misconduct in the workplace are thoroughly investigated with the wellbeing of staff prioritised."