It's been a bad week for CBS. The network's long-time star Charlie Rose fell to earth with a mainstream media-shaking thud amid several allegations of sexual harassment. Now the network is getting slapped with a lawsuit for alleged sex discrimination revolving around behavior that left one former long-time employee "shocked."
In a federal lawsuit filed in Manhattan, Erin Gee, who worked with the network for 17 years, claims that her complaints against an executive in the company for sexist and inappropriate behavior went ignored, something she blames on the "boys' club" mentality that permeates the company.
Gee, 44, claims that in 2011 her former boss at "CBS Evening News," Robert Klug, advised her to have sex with the cameraman to resolve a dispute, the New York Post reports. She says she complained to a senior producer but the network took no action. She also alleges that another employee told her Klug once asked him if he'd slept with Gee or any of the other women "under his supervision." She filed another complaint about Klug and other instances of sexual discrimination in 2015 and, again, the network did nothing.
The suit claims that while Gee was working with "CBS Evening News" in 2011, Klug told her that she should "have sex" with the video editor with whom she'd had some disputes, "to break the ice."
"I was in a state of shock," said Gee. "I couldn't believe that was his advice. 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.'"
Gee says she told a senior producer about the incident and he claimed that he informed an executive producer about it, but "nothing was done."
Soon after the alleged incident, Klug was promoted to executive director for CBS News. That's when another employee approached Gee about a comment Klug made. The Post reports:
Klug was eventually promoted to executive director for CBS News, and shortly after, another male boss told Gee that Klug “had asked him whether he had had sex with her or the other women under his supervision,” the suit says.
That boss “told me that story because he was very upset,” Gee said.
Gee included that comment as well as other evidence of alleged "sexist" behavior at the network in a formal complaint she filed in 2015.
Soon after she filed the complaint, Gee says she was demoted to the weekend newscast for "behavioral problems," though she had never been warned about any issues.
Gee says her goal in the formal complaint was simply to be given "the same opportunities" as men in the network, noting that over her 17 years in the company, "I never saw a female director direct the evening news."
Though her discrimination claim was dismissed in March by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, citing lack of enough information to establish a clear violation, she still has the right to pursue the lawsuit, which she is doing.
The Post reports that CBS denies Gee's allegations against both the company and Klug, describing them as "wholly without merit" and maintaining that she was "treated in a nondiscriminatory and nonretaliatory manner."