Universal Pictures Fires EVP, Places Marketing President on Leave Over ‘Inappropriate Conduct’

Studio says it received accusations last week that it finds “credible”

Universal Pictures has fired executive vice president Seth Byers and placed marketing president Josh Goldstine on administrative leave as the studio investigates accusations of “inappropriate conduct.”

In a memo to staff, film division president Donna Langley and chairman Jeff Shell said they had received complaints last week that they found “credible and indicative of an unacceptable climate.”

Byers, an EVP in charge of creative strategy and research, is out as a result. Goldstine has been removed from the lot as the company continues a “thorough investigation.”

“Our highest priority is to provide a working environment where every employee feels heard, seen and safe. We commend the people who have had the courage to come forward. We have no tolerance for harassment or other disrespectful behavior, and we will be taking any necessary steps to ensure that actions that violate our core values are dealt with swiftly and decisively,” the memo continued.

Universal declined to elaborate on the nature of the accusations or the contents of the investigation surrounding Byers and his quick termination. Neither Byers nor Goldstine could be reached for comment.

Both executives are veterans of Sony, where Byers had served as SVP of worldwide research until jumping to Universal in 2013.

Goldstine had spent two decades at Sony before joining Universal in 2011 as president of domestic marketing; he was promoted in 2014 to oversee worldwide marketing.

In 2001, Sony had suspended Goldstine and a second executive for 30 days without pay after they were found to have invented fictional critics to write gushing poster blurbs for films such as “Hollow Man” and “A Knight’s Tale.”

Read the full memo obtained by TheWrap:

Late last week, we received allegations of inappropriate conduct in the Universal Pictures Marketing Department. The information provided was detailed, and we believe both credible and indicative of an unacceptable climate.

Effective immediately, Seth Byers, Executive Vice President, Creative Strategy and Research, will no longer be with the company.

Josh Goldstine, President of Marketing, has been placed on administrative leave while we conduct a thorough investigation. These steps are necessary as part of a broader evaluation of the environment in our division.

Our highest priority is to provide a working environment where every employee feels heard, seen and safe. We commend the people who have had the courage to come forward. We have no tolerance for harassment or other disrespectful behavior, and we will be taking any necessary steps to ensure that actions that violate our core values are dealt with swiftly and decisively.

We will be doing a number of things to address this immediately, including a full review in the marketing department to ensure every employee has the opportunity to voice concerns, raise any issues and provide feedback about the working environment, and we are prepared to take whatever additional action is needed.

We will also be launching mandatory in-person respect-in-the-workplace training for all employees in the motion picture group to supplement existing training. This new training will be held in small groups working together to better understand how we all can contribute to a culture where we treat each other appropriately.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you about any concerns you may have. You may come directly to either of us, your manager or our HR team. Or, if you would be more comfortable, the company provides other tools outside the organization that allow you to report anonymously, including the Comcast Listens website at www.ComcastListens.com or 877-405-4783, and the NBCU Ombudsman at integrity@nbcuni.com.

We are committed to you, the employees who drive this company and show passion and dedication in everything you do. We are a resilient, strong organization who sticks together in good times and bad. This is a time for us to recognize that we must foster greater respect and transparency, and we will do that together.

We, along with our HR team, will be available throughout the entire day to answer your questions or address any concerns you may have.