UPDATED: In the wake of former Fader content chief Eric Sundermann’s dismissal from the company following sexual misconduct allegations, a new report in Jezebel claims that both The Fader and Sundermann’s former employers at Vice did not address similar allegations against him, some of which dated back several years.
The multiple anonymous sources who spoke with reporter Emily Alford accused Sundermann of repeatedly groping female coworkers at industry events and forcing his way into taxis with women who were intoxicated, among other inappropriate actions. The sources also claimed that Vice employees had planned to address Sundermann’s behavior publicly but were dissuaded from doing so by company HR, who told them an investigation was underway, although no action ensued. The sources said that publisher Andy Cohn and others at The Fader were aware of Sundermann’s alleged behavior before he was hired, and that Cohn had once behaved inappropriately at a 2011 company event. While a rep for the company told Variety Wednesday that Cohn was not under investigation, disputing the claim of an anonymous source quoted in a Billboard article on Sundermann’s firing, on Friday the company confirmed that he has been suspended.
A statement reads: “We founded The Fader with the goal of creating a magazine and community that is an inclusive space that fosters discovery and connection – a place where our employees and community felt open, safe, and free to project their pure creative abilities onto the world. It is clear that we have failed to do that and failed to live up to our standards.
“Today we have retained outside counsel to launch an independent investigation into our company’s workplace policies and systems — not just to find out where we went wrong, but how we can improve our culture moving forward. Additionally, we have suspended president and publisher Andy Cohn.
“Our employees are the foundation of our culture. We hope to empower them through this process to help us improve our workplace support systems, policies and culture. We are putting immediate steps in place to encourage more feedback and an open dialogue. We apologize to those who we have let down. The Fader will continue to strive to make its community, and its workplace, a place where everyone can feel safe and respected so that their creative energies and talents can shine. We pledge that these changes will make The Fader stronger in the years ahead.” A rep for the company declined Variety‘s request for further details.
Sundermann worked at Vice from 2013 through 2018, becoming editor in chief in 2015. He joined The Fader last December.
In a statement to Variety, a rep for Vice said: “Vice has a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of workplace misconduct. We cannot publicly comment on confidential employee matters, including the findings and outcomes of the investigations we conduct.”
Contacted by Variety, a rep for the Fader had no comment or update to their comment above, but a statement in the Jezebel article reads, “When Eric was hired by Fader, due diligence was conducted, including a check of references. Nothing we heard from anyone as part of that diligence process corroborated any rumor and we hired Eric with no basis to believe there would be any issues with his behavior or compliance with our policies.”