Legal help from Oprah

July 14, 2008
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Oprah Winfrey wants to offer you legal help. The catch: Your case will be documented in her magazine for the world to see.

I came across a link on CNN.com that leads to a promotional page from Winfrey’s magazine, “O, The Oprah Magazine.”

Winfrey has teamed up with legal experts to offer pro bono representation for people being sexually harassed at work. A select number of cases will be chosen after review by the legal panel, and the magazine will report about what happens as the cases progress.

The Web page gives a definition of sexual harassment and has a form of at least 14 questions for people to answer regarding the harassment. There may be more, but you can only continue if you answer the questions.

This seems like a win-win for both parties involved – the magazine gets content and victims of sexual harassment get free representation. I can see potential legal issues arising in publishing these cases in the magazine, especially if the allegations haven’t been proven yet. What if someone who is chosen with a case against a co-worker ends up losing the case or the proof shows the harassment didn’t happen? I guess one way around this would be to not use the real names of involved people and companies, but then would that take away from the power of the story to readers?

I’ll have to start paying attention to “O” magazine to see if these stories come to fruition and how the magazine handles the cases.
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