CBS is facing more bad news as a reality television executive who has produced some of the network’s biggest hits has thrown a bias lawsuit its way.
Ghen Maynard, who developed long-running shows like “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “The Amazing Race,” is claiming in his suit that the company mistreats its minority employees. Maynard was brought back on at CBS three years ago to help give their unscripted department a boost. The suit follows Maynard being terminated last month.
To further complicate matters, a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday says Maynard’s own firing was due to an allegation that he mistreated a female coworker.
Maynard, who was born in Japan, says in his lawsuit that he was the only minority executive at the company and he even name-drops Les Moonves, who previously left the company after numerous women accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Since Mr. Moonves’ departure, CBS has become a radically different place,” the complaint states. “Despite blaming all of its problems on Mr. Moonves and claiming that it has taken steps to improve race and gender issues at the Company, today’s CBS ‘leaders,’ those making the key decisions on such issues, are all white males, whose decisions belie CBS’ self-serving rhetoric.”
Maynard alleges that minorities are told to sit in the back rows at company meetings, and are sometimes even simply told not to attend. He says he was told that other executives were “threatened” by him. He also says his work was unfairly criticized.
He called the investigation into his own alleged misconduct a “sham.”
“Amplifying its mistreatment of Mr. Maynard, earlier this year, CBS subjected Mr. Maynard to a biased, sham ‘investigation’ into a false and ludicrous allegation that he mistreated a female coworker on the writing team when he asked a quiet male employee on the same team for his opinions during a meeting,” the complaint says.
Maynard further claims that an investigation by the company’s human resources department found that he did not violate company policy, but CBS Studios President David Stapf, who is white, decided to remove Maynard from the show “BH90210,” a reboot of sorts to “Beverly Hills 90210,” anyway.
Maynard was eventually told that his department was shutting down, which could be chalked up to the merger between Viacom and CBS. His final day of employment with the company is December 2.
“Mr. Maynard’s contract was not renewed due to the elimination of the Studio’s alternative programming department. The claims in this suit are completely without merit, and we will defend against it vigorously,” CBS said in a public statement in response to Maynard’s allegations.
Whether Maynard’s claims have merit or not, this is certainly not a good look for CBS. The company is already under a microscope thanks to the numerous allegations against Les Moonves, who was Chairman and CEO of the company from 2003 to 2018.
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