Black Sports Online CEO Robert Littal Apologizes Amid Claims of Rampant Sexual Harassment

Robert Littal (Credit: Twitter)

Robert Littal, CEO of Black Sports Online (BSO), issued an apology Sunday amid accusations by former female employees that he harassed them, requested sexual favors, and made inappropriate comments.

The harassment claims gained attention Saturday when the hashtag #SurvivingBSO began to trend. Some of the Twitter posts included screen shots from BSO group chats that were sexual in nature. The accusers said they remained silent for years out of fear that their careers and reputations might be jeopardized if they spoke out against Littal, who co-hosts TMZ Sports on the Fox Sports 1 network.

Following claims that he fostered a toxic environment at BSO, Littal posted an apology video on Twitter.

“There are some things as you saw, that I’ve said to my female contributors in the past that were very inappropriate, inconsiderate and they were flat out wrong, and for that I apologize,” he said. “I was totally wrong with that. I shouldn’t have let it happen. I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to all of those women publicly. I have the utmost respect for Black women. My mom is Black, wife’s Black. I should never have put them in a position to be uncomfortable.”

The National Association of Black Journalists issued a statement Sunday saying the organization was disappointed to learn of the harassment claims.

“In a time where Black voices are needed now more than ever in the media, media owners, especially those within the Black community, should be working to support and uplift their employees and not undermine their abilities because of their gender or refusal to participate in inappropriate behavior,” said NABJ President Dorothy Tucker.

According to website analytics company, Similar Web, Black Sports Online averages about one million visitors a month. NABJ called on BSO’s advertisers, readers and supporters to hold Littal accountable.

“The misogynistic behavior of Mr. Littal toward women at Black Sports Online is just sad and pathetic on so many levels. We are committed to not only addressing the need for change but also becoming the change that we want to see by taking a more active and vigilant role in addressing sexual harassment and other workplace issues,” added A. Sherrod Blakely, chair of the NABJ Sports Task Force.

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NABJ went on to distance itself from Littal, saying he has not been a dues paying member since 2014.

Among the #SurvivingBSO claims posted on Twitter, Littal is alleged to have used his power to make unwanted sexual advances. He is also accused of threatening to remove up-and-coming reporters’ bylines from stories they wrote if they turned down his advances, meaning they wouldn’t have writing samples to show potential employers.

Tamantha Gunn, a former BSO employee who is now a news editor for Revolt, was among those to share details about awful experiences at BSO. You can read her full Twitter thread here.

“So, I’m going to share my story of how Robert Littal of @bso has been inappropriate with his female employees. I waited to share this because I didn’t have receipts, but a former writer I worked with has screenshots and was able to send them to me,” she tweeted. “Too often, we don’t believe Black women. We don’t listen to Black women and we don’t care about Black women. To find out that his disgusting behavior still continued after me…I can’t keep letting him get away with this.”

Gunn shared screen shots from BSO group chats and direct messages from other female journalists,  who included claims that Littal only wanted “attractive” women writing for the website, even if they had no experience. Among the other accusations are that he refused to pay aspiring journalists and forced them to cover their own travel and work expenses.

In a statement to NABJ, Gunn said Littal has “caused a lot of sorrow” and must do better.

“I want Mr. Littal, as a father of a young Black daughter, to do a better job engaging with women in a work setting,” she said. “I want him to realize that what he did was wrong and has caused a lot of sorrow to those involved. I hope that my story can encourage other women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, at BSO or elsewhere, to speak out and end the cycle of toxic work environments.”