Recent revelations involving a longtime CBS employee could show a culture of harassment and inappropriate behavior at the network that may extend far wider than now-departed host Charlie Rose.
Erin Gee, a 44-year-old former producer who worked for CBS for 17 years, has filed a federal suit in a Manhattan court that includes serious allegations of sex discrimination, according to the New York Post.
She was allegedly told by her boss that, in order to get anywhere in the network hierarchy, she would need to sleep with coworkers.
“I was in a state of shock,” said Gee as she described a 2011 incident involving a conversation with her then “CBS Evening News” boss, Robert Klug, about a dispute with a co-worker.
Klug allegedly told Gee that “she should ‘have sex’ with [the] video editor who had been difficult to work with to ‘break the ice,’” court papers show.
“I couldn’t believe that was his advice,” Gee told the Post. “I was looking for help, and he looked at me like, ‘You don’t matter, and this is what you should do to make this guy like you.’”
Although Gee did report the incident to a senior producer, Gee’s lawyer, Kevin Mintzer, said “nothing was done.”
After being promoted to CBS News executive director, Klug allegedly asked Gee’s male boss “whether he had had sex with her [Gee] or the other women under his supervision.”
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Gee claims the boss “told me that story because he was very upset.”
A formal complaint filed in 2015 was eventually dismissed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March due to an inability “to conclude that the information obtained establishes a violation of the statutes.” But after she filed the claim, Gee was demoted to weekends then disciplined for “behavioral problems,” although she insists she was never told what those “problems” were.
“All I wanted was the same opportunities that were being given to the men. In my nearly 20 years at CBS, I never saw a female director direct the evening news,” Gee said.
Fed up, the former producer eventually quit the network.
“My situation demonstrates why woman are afraid to speak up,’’ Gee told the Post. “When they do, they’re often punished for it.”
Although the EEOC dismissed Gee’s claim, they issued her a federally required right to sue.
CBS is denying Gee’s claims, calling them “wholly without merit, including those directed toward Mr. Klug.”
“Contrary to those allegations, Ms. Gee was treated in a nondiscriminatory and nonretaliatory manner,” a CBS spokeswoman said.
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