Suspended PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley took a stand for workplace romance on Monday when he appeared on Tucker Carlson’s FOX News show.
As reported, PBS suspended Tavis last week amid sexual misconduct allegations. Tavis vowed to defend himself against the allegations which he feels are unfair.
During the segment, Tavis was was asked by Tucker whether relationships with subordinates should be allowed on the job.
I certainly understand that there are persons who believe that there is no such thing as a consensual relationship in the workplace. I hear that. I can respect that point of view. But there are other opinions on this. In my employee handbook we do not encourage interoffice relationships but we don’t forbid it either because I don’t know how things are going to turn out in your life and you start hanging out with our company. I don’t know who you’re going to meet. And let’s face it, nobody’s working 40-hour weeks anymore. We are working 40-, 50-, 70-, 80-hour weeks. Where else are you going to meet people in this business?
However, that’s not what Tucker asked. He asked specifically about relationships with subordinates — people who work under him. Tavis danced around it to make some general point about being allowed to date coworkers, completely ignoring the unfair power dynamic at play when a boss dates his/her employee.
That’s why PBS suspended him. The network claims he had multiple sexual relationships with subordinates and that those sexual relationships influenced employment opportunities. They also believe the sexual relationships were not consensual.
Watch Tavis’ defense below.