“Lockhart Steele was terminated effective immediately,” CEO Jim Bankoff wrote in a memo to staff Thursday, which the company confirmed to Variety was authentic. “Lock admitted engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with our core values and is not tolerated at Vox Media.”
Steele’s name also has been removed from the Vox Media page listing company leadership. He joined the company through its November 2013 acquisition of Curbed, in a cash-and-stock deal reportedly worth $20 million to $30 million. The Curbed Network included Curbed.com, which covers real-estate; food blog Eater; and Racked, which covers retailing. Previously, Steele was managing editor at Gawker Media. Steele did not respond to a request for comment.
Bankoff said the company’s investigation into issues raised by an ex-employee about Steele in a post on Medium is ongoing. Vox Media has retained law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to lead the investigation.
“Vox Media is committed to fostering a safe and welcoming community, and appreciates those who have been willing to speak up and share information during the course of this investigation,” he wrote.
According to the Awl, which first reported Steele’s firing, the Medium post in question was an Oct. 12 post by Eden Rohatensky, who worked at Vox Media as a web developer from June 2014 to August 2015, according to LinkedIn. In the post, Rohatensky didn’t identify Vox Media but described harassment by other employees while working at a new job in the U.S., including a company VP who caressed Rohatensky’s hand and kissed Rohatensky’s neck while they were in the back of an Uber.
“I reported what had happened with the VP,” Rohatensky wrote. “A year later, I found out that an investigation had been done. That he had multiple victims within the company. That his punishment was being told he could not drink at corporate events any longer. He had too many shares in the company.”
In a postscript on the Medium post, Rohatensky said the company that Rohatensky was working with at the time called to follow up on the allegations.
The subject of sexual harassment and assault has vaulted into the zeitgeist after numerous women have come forward to call out Harvey Weinstein for decades of abusive behavior.
In the wake of major exposé on Weinstein, other men in the entertainment industry have lost their jobs over sexual-harassment claims. Those include Amazon Studios president Roy Price; Andy Signore, Defy Media’s SVP of content and creator of Screen Junkies; and Chris Savino, showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “The Loud House.”