For 72-year-old news writer Hugh Heckman, a single comment about Meghan Markle has turned his life upside down. According to a lawsuit that he filed on Thursday against PBS News Hour Productions, Hugh believes that he was wrongfully terminated based on his gender.
The lawsuit detailed how he saw a photo of Meghan Markle, and told another male employee, “not bad,” in “a low tone of voice.” This reportedly led to a female employee taking action, described The Wrap.
“[The female employee] heard this remark and criticized Plaintiff, stating that he had acted in contravention to the training that all employees had recently attended regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.”
While Heckman then told the female employee that his comment wasn’t meant to be sexual, it eventually led to him being “regretfully” let go by an executive producer. They reportedly cited the incident with the “not bad” comment as the reason.
However, Hugh is refusing to stay quiet after his firing. He alleges that there is a “double-standard” at the workplace, as he says that the female employee that essentially got him fired had previously called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “hot” after seeing photos of him.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.
— Renee (@LivinMyBst) October 27, 2018
While it’s hard to know right now what will happen with the lawsuit, it remains to be seen whether Hugh has any concrete proof that the other female employees called Trudeau “hot” or not.
The recent rise in the #MeToo movement has affected many workplaces, which are now admitting to a culture of sexual harassment that needs to be addressed. For example, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, recently admitted to a sexual harassment problem within the company, described CNBC. Pichai sent an email to employees in response to a New York Times article that alleged that the company had “shielded” execs from harassment claims, and later gave them payouts to leave.
The following is an excerpt from the email.
“In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority: in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package.”
Meanwhile, the outcome of the lawsuit against PBS may shed light on how similar cases could play out in court in the future.
And for the time being, it looks like PBS isn’t making any comments to the press about the claims.