A former Hallmark Channel host sued the network on Thursday, alleging that he was fired after he supported two women who made sexual harassment claims.
Mark Steines, the ex-host of “Home & Family,” says that he repeatedly complained about Woody Fraser, the 83-year-old executive producer of the show. Fraser is veteran of daytime television, having launched “The Mike Douglas Show” and “Good Morning America,” and served as an early mentor to Roger Ailes.
According to Steines, Fraser harassed and abused staffers on the show, and displayed misogynistic behavior. Steines also accuses Fraser of making lewd comments in his earpiece while he was interviewing attractive guests, such as “Can you see up her skirt (or down her shirt) from there?” or “Wouldn’t you love to turn her around and bend her over and do her from behind?”
Employees would go to Steines with complaints about Fraser, and he would relay them to management, but nothing was ever done, the suit alleges. Steines says he also witnessed Fraser forcibly hug and massage female employees, and that a photo circulated among the staff showing Fraser kissing a female staffer against her will.
In the spring of 2017, two female employees hired attorney Lisa Bloom to lodge sexual harassment claims against the company. In a public statement in June 2017, Fraser preemptively denied the allegations, which had not been made publicly, calling it a “media circus” and rejecting “an attempt to label me the next ‘Roger Ailes.'”
According to the suit, Steines had cooperated with Bloom and agreed to serve as a potential witness. The suit quotes Michelle Vicary, a Hallmark Channel executive, as saying she was angry that Steines had put company executives “in danger.” A few months later, Steines’ salary was cut by 25% for the sixth season of the show. He was fired in May of this year, with three months remaining on his contract, according to the suit.
Steines is suing for retaliation and wrongful termination.