A lawsuit recently filed in Manhattan Federal Court alleges that executives at CBS committed sexual harassment. The lawsuit, filed by celebrity reporter Ken Lombardi, describes an ongoing climate of harassment at the CBS office, where the 29 year old reporter worked for several years.
The story serves as a powerful reminder that the victims of sexual harassment need not always be women.
Documents filed in the suit allege that, at a 2013 holiday party, Duane Tollison, a senior producer and Lombardi’s boss at the time, “grabbed Lombardi’s crotch and kissed his neck.” Tollison followed up the following day with a written correspondence saying: “I wanted to apologize if anything I did offended you or crossed a line. I like to get a little crazy. If you weren’t offended, then let’s do it again. LOL How is your day so far? :)”
The lawsuit also alleges that, when Lombardi turned to another boss, “CBS Evening News” director Albert (Chip) Colley, for professional advice and help dealing with Tollison’s unwanted actions, he instead received sexual advances, including text messages with links to porn sites and unwanted physical advances. In addition, Lombardi says he was harassed because of his sexual orientation (Lombardi is bi-sexual) by Colley, who allegedly told Lombardi that he “did not really believe being bi-sexual was real and told plaintiff that he was actually completely gay.”
Lombardi claims that Colley’s harassment was unrelenting and predatory in nature, eventually causing Lombardi to quit his job. Prior to taking that step, however, he reported the harassment to Human Resources at the network. Not only were his complaints to HR ignored, according to the suit, but Lombardi suffered retaliation for reporting the unwanted advances.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on a variety of characteristics, including sex, and it prohibits harassment in the workplace. Lombardi’s lawsuit seeks an undetermined amount in damages for violations of labor laws, emotional distress, and discrimination.
The Joseph & Kirschenbaum, LLP team can help you understand your rights and options in a potential sexual harassment case. Call us today at 1 (212) 688-5640, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule a free and totally confidential strategic consultation.