A reality TV executive filed a discrimination suit against CBS on Monday, alleging he was fired as part of a systemic pattern of mistreatment of non-white executives.
Ghen Maynard, who is of Japanese ancestry, was a senior executive VP for alternative programs. He alleges that although CBS has said publicly that it is taking steps to address diversity, at the top levels it is still run exclusively by white men.
Maynard was hired by former CEO Les Moonves to develop shows at CBS Studios in 2016. He had served two previous stints at the network, and had developed and launched several reality TV hits, including “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” More recently, he was involved in “BH90210,” the reboot of the 90’s series which aired on Fox, and “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” with Tiffany Haddish, among other shows.
Maynard states that at meetings it became obvious he was the only non-white executive at his level.
“In these meetings, Mr. Maynard noticed that if there were ever any other minorities aside from him in the room, they would always be relegated to sit in the back rows, meaning that they lacked seniority and were members of support departments,” the suit states.
The suit alleges that Maynard found himself out of favor with CBS leadership after Moonves’ departure. He says he got “negative and condescending” notes from two white male executives in response to “Pink Collar Crimes,” and that the show was relegated to Saturday night. He also alleged that CBS executives were uninterested in bidding on the other shows he was developing, which were ultimately sold to other networks, and did not get customary positive feedback on his work.
Maynard also states that he was subject to a sham investigation after a female coworker made a “ludicrous allegation” claiming that he had overlooked her opinions in a meeting. Maynard says he was removed from “BH90210” following the investigation in June, even though he was not found to have violated CBS policy. He also alleges that CBS’ human resources department never interviewed female witnesses who would have supported his version of events.
Maynard alleges the investigation provided a pretext to get rid of him. In early October, he says he was informed that his department — and his position — were being eliminated. Maynard alleges that age discrimination was also a factor in his termination.
In a statement, CBS denied the allegations. “Mr. Maynard’s contract was not renewed due to the elimination of the Studio’s alternative programming department,” CBS Television Studios said. “The claims in this suit are completely without merit, and we will defend against it vigorously.”
Maynard’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, argued that CBS is trying to solve its “Les Moonves problem” by ousting senior people and replacing them with younger executives, who tend to be white and male.
“I feel like we’re caught in a time warp,” she said. “It’s like ‘Mad Men’ — it’s the same backward mentality… If I were a CBS showrunner I would be wondering what is going on there.”