An associate producer at CBS News’ “60 Minutes” alleges in a new lawsuit that she was “ostracized, isolated and penalized” after reporting inappropriate behavior by one of the venerable newsmagazine’s senior producers, and now wants a jury to decide whether she is owed damages.
Cassandra Vinograd logged stints at the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and NBC News before being hired in June to join the London office of “60 Minutes.” But within weeks, she alleges, she was confronted with inappropriate behavior from Michael Gavshon, a longtime “60 Minutes” producer. She alleges Gavshon often drank to excess during company hours and claims in September he texted her an old photo of him and some friends urinating on a smoldering fire. But, she alleges, she was removed from much of her daily work after asking CBS for an investigation into the matter as well as protection from retaliation.
The photo is included in the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court.
The allegations surface after CBS News, and its former parent, CBS Corp., have spent months grappling with scrutiny of its workplace culture in the wake of the departure of former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves in the fall of 2018, and the ouster of former “CBS This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose in the fall of 2017. Both men were accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, and both have denied the charges.
“CBS News is in the process of reviewing the complaint filed by Ms. Vinograd and plans to vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” the news unit said in a statement Tuesday evening. “CBS thoroughly and immediately investigated the matter in accordance with its policies. Subsequently, Ms. Vinograd asked to no longer work with Mr. Gavshon and CBS has made every reasonable effort to honor this request. CBS News vehemently denies there was any retaliation.”
In a separate statement provided by CBS News, Gavshon denied the allegations of drinking on the job and said the photo was sent inadvertently to Vinograd while he was texting with his sister about a friend who had passed away. The friend is depicted in the photo.
Upon discovering the picture had been sent to a colleague, said Gavshon, “I was mortified. The following day I went in early and reported the incident. I cooperated with an investigation by the company and was told not to come into work during the course of the investigation. I continue to regret this mistake and sincerely apologize for it.”
Vinograd’s attorney said her client expected to bring the matter to court. “We look forward to holding CBS accountable for its unlawful conduct as alleged in the complaint by our client Cassandra Vinograd,” said Jeanne M. Christensen, a partner at Wigdor LLP, the law firm representing Vinograd. “Contrary to CBS’s claims that it is doing the right thing when female employees report gender-related misconduct, as alleged, it appears that no meaningful changes to the culture at CBS have been made. It appears that CBS continues to protect senior male talent at the expense of junior women – business as usual.”