A former CBS News 60 Minutes producer is suing the news division, CBS, and parent company Paramount Global in a lawsuit, portraying the media entity as having double standards when dealing with employee behavior.
Alexandra Poolos claims she was fired after being accused of harassment, but her former male colleagues who engaged in “far more egregious misconduct” did not suffer the same consequences.
In the lawsuit filed on Thursday, Poolos is claiming gender discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. She asserts her 2022 termination occurred after a colleague, associate producer Collette Richards, accused her of “bullying” and “not having boundaries.”
Poolos is rebutting these allegations in the 46-page lawsuit, saying Richards fabricated them “to conceal her own serious deficiencies, including her outright refusal to do her job, was in violation of civil rights laws.”
Poolos goes on to say in the lawsuit that her dismissal stands in sharp contrast to that of her male colleagues, who “suffered no consequences for their actions” and that “despite well-founded allegations of abuse, sexism, and sexual harassment,” many of these colleagues are still employed by the media organization.
“CBS has a long history of shielding men from answering for their misconduct, including unlawful conduct,” the lawsuit contends. The suit includes the names of ex-CBS CEO Les Moonves, ex-60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, current 60 Minutes associate producer David Levine, and ex-CBS News president Neeraj Khemlani, among others who have been accused of bad behavior at the organization.
She also claims that she was a recipient of this bad behavior while employed at CBS News, saying that her former supervisor, producer Shachar Bar-On, emotionally and verbally abused and sexually harassed Poolos for years, including a drunken attempt at an invite to his hotel room.
Poolos also claims while working for Bar-On was exposed to alleged instances of pornography, verbal insults about correspondent Lesley Stahl’s appearance, and masturbation.
The complaint adds, “Applying different standards to Poolos than it had to male Producers alleged to have engaged in far more egregious misconduct, including unlawful behavior, defendants fired Poolos in February 2022.”
When reached, a CBS News spokesperson told TVNewser: “We are not commenting on pending litigation.”
Poolos had been with CBS News since 2011, starting as an associate producer before being elevated to the producer role in 2018, a position she maintained until her dismissal. Before that, she was an editorial producer for CNN, having served in that role for nearly five years.
This story was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.