CBS News has filed a motion requesting to be removed as a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by three women who said they were harassed by former “CBS This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose.
According to court documents obtained by TheWrap and filed on Friday in the New York State Supreme Court, CBS News argues that the three plaintiffs have no ground for claims against the news organization, as it cannot be held responsible for Rose’s accused harassment.
In their lawsuit, the women accuse Rose of physically and verbally harassing them while working for him and accuse “CBS Management, numerous broadcasters and studio staff” of witnessing such misconduct.
The suit also says that two of the plaintiffs, Katherine Brooks Harris and Sydney McNeal, were fired by Rose after The New York Times published an expose in November 2017 outlining sexual harassment accusations against Rose, and that CBS did not offer any alternate positions.
The third plaintiff, Yuqing “Chelsea” Wei, accused CBS of “retaliation” by removing her as an anchor assistant for “CBS This Morning” after she filed her own complaint against Rose.
But the new motion argues that Harris was not employed by CBS at the time of the alleged harassment, while McNeal was never hired by the company at all. The motion also argues that the plaintiffs fail to argue in their lawsuit that CBS retaliated against them for filing internal complaints against Rose.
“To state a claim for retaliation, a plaintiff must assert that she engaged in protected activity–e.g., reporting discrimination–and that her employer took an adverse employment action based on that alleged protected activity. As an initial matter, Harris and McNeal never at any point allege that they engaged in protected activity, so their claims for retaliation are patently meritless,” the motion reads.
“And while Wei does allege that she engaged in protected activity and that she suffered adverse employment actions, she fails to connect the two as she must.”
Rose was fired by CBS in November after accusations were made against him; PBS cancelled his evening talk show the same day. So far, 27 women have accused Rose of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.