Hundreds of women have come forward to expose allegations of sexual and verbal harassment by Black Sports Online CEO Robert Littal.
What We Know:
- Women across the board developed a hashtag on Twitter over the weekend, #SurvivingBSO. The hashtag is complete with screenshots of inappropriate comments and stories to unpaid Black women writers at the company. theGrio had a chance to speak with several women threatening allegations. A former BSO contributor, Sheena Quick penned over 800 stories and recalls how she was harassed too.
- Quick explains the incident occurred in May 2016 when Littal suggested she show him her breasts for every mistake she made in her pieces. Again, in February 2018 at the NFL Combine, she says, “He kept suggesting I needed to sleep with him. It was the only NFL combine I have missed in the last five years because he made me feel uncomfortable.”
I’ll preface this by saying that I went back and forth with myself on whether I was going to share my experience with @bso. I was afraid that it may jeopardize future opportunities and it’s sad that so many women are forced into silence because of this fear.
— Sheena Quick (@Sheena_Marie3) June 28, 2020
- Another woman, Tamantha Gunn, also spoke out. Gunn has written over 1,000 pieces for BSO since 2015. She shared her story of unwanted conversations in the company’s group chat regarding her sex life. She says the experience impacted how she worked and even made her question if she still wanted a career in journalism. Her fiancé encouraged her to speak out. She stated, “I didn’t want Black women to keep writing for this man and keep getting violated”.
- According to theGrio, there aren’t a lot of opportunity for women in sports, especially Black women. This opens the door to harassment. theGrio says women become afraid to speak out because of their fear of being black-listed in the industry.
- Vashti Hurt, former BSO contributor, says from day one with the company she helped build its brand, but she received no compensation. She often traveled to cover events but received no travel expenses.
- She advised, “Rob knew how hungry we were to succeed in this industry as Black women, who are often overlooked and exploited. It was insulting to see him bragging about how much money he was making as the boss, while literally playing the role of the overseer behind the scenes I didn’t experience the professional growth he promised in exchange for free labor until I left the brand.”
- More women reached out to Gunn about allegations toward Littal but wanted to remain anonymous.
Since the allegations brought up against him, Littal issued an apology on Twitter but did not address the sexual harassment allegations. Gunn says she refuses to watch the video and doesn’t want his position of power to effect Black women.