CBS was hit with a gender discrimination suit by an associate producer for “60 Minutes” who says she was retaliated against and stripped of her work duties for going to HR with concerns about her boss.
The suit says that Cassandra Vinograd received “an inappropriate and unsolicited photo” from “60 Minutes” senior producer Michael Gavshon after being hired exclusively to work for him in June, “nine months after scandal-led departure of Jeff Fager,” the longtime executive producer of the program. It says the veteran journalist, previously of NBC, the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal, then emailed HR and legal at CBS to request an investigation into the text and what is described as “Gavshon’s excessive alcohol use during work hours and while traveling for work.”
According to Vinograd’s suit, CBS told her the photo was a “mistake” and her claim of his excessive alcohol use was not corroborated.
Vinograd says in the suit that Gavshon has retaliated against her by stripping her of work responsibilities. CBS, according to her suit, “remains committed to insulating and protecting powerful men.”
“We look forward to holding CBS accountable for its unlawful conduct as alleged in the complaint by our client Cassandra Vinograd. Contrary to CBS’s claims that it is doing the right thing when female employees report gender-related misconduct, as alleged, it appears that no meaningful changes to the culture at CBS have been made. It appears that CBS continues to protect senior male talent at the expense of junior women — business as usual,” Jeanne M. Christensen, a partner at Wigdor LLP, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“CBS News is in the process of reviewing the complaint filed by Ms. Vinograd and plans to vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” the network said in a statement. “CBS thoroughly and immediately investigated the matter in accordance with its policies. Subsequently, Ms. Vinograd asked to no longer work with Mr. Gavshon and CBS has made every reasonable effort to honor this request. CBS News vehemently denies there was any retaliation.”
The “scandal-led” departure referenced in Vinograd’s suit was part of a company-wide shakeup. Norah O’Donnell told TheWrap in July she wouldn’t be the new “CBS Evening News” anchor if not for the network’s upheaval, saying CBS has changed its corporate culture since the ouster for former CEO Les Moonves, “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose, among others.
“I would not have taken this job if Susan Zirinsky were not president,” O’Donnell said at the time, referring to CBS News’ new leader, who replaced David Rhodes in January amid ratings woes as well as #MeToo issues. She credited Zirinsky for moving swiftly to make big changes at the network.
“It’s a new era at CBS News,” O’Donnell said. “It’s time to move on and do the work.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.