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More than two years after Charlie Rose lost his prominent perch on television after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment, a couple of his accusers are now suing Bloomberg LLP. On Tuesday, Katherine Brooks Harris and Sydney McNeal filed a complaint in New York state court that claims that the news company aided and abetted Rose.
Katherine Brooks Harris and Sydney McNeal are the two plaintiffs, and if those names sound familiar, they are the same ones who previously sued CBS News and Rose himself back in May 2018 upon an exposé by The Washington Post. Harris and McNeal have already settled with CBS, while their action against Rose is ongoing. That prior case is soon headed to summary judgment motions and perhaps trial after a discovery process that included a deposition for Rose, who admitted to having “inappropriate” relationships in the workplace.
Just whose workplace?
Rose owned his own independent production company, but he operated within Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. Further, much of the backend operations for Rose’s company, including payment and benefits, were handled by Bloomberg. Now in an allegation that is almost certain to be hotly disputed, Harris and McNeal say they were jointly employed by both Rose and Bloomberg.
Harris was an associate producer. She alleges among other things that Rose would regularly summon her to corporate offices just outside the broadcast studio and require her to sit next to him. “On at least one other occasion, I was wearing a skirt and, after I sat down on the bench, Rose sat down and intentionally slid his hand under my buttocks,” declared Harris in an earlier affidavit now referenced in the newest suit.
“Bloomberg allowed Charlie Rose to repeatedly and unlawfully sexually harass, at its studios and elsewhere,” states the complaint, adding, “The unlawful, gender-based degrading and demeaning terms and conditions of Plaintiffs’ employment as well as Bloomberg’s allowance and condonation of Mr. Rose’s unlawful behavior against its own employees is consistent with its corporate culture and ‘tone at the top,’ Michael Bloomberg’s close personal and business relationship with Mr. Rose, and the value of Charlie Rose and his show to Bloomberg.”
The complaint includes a section about “Bloomberg’s Corporate Culture,” recounting various media stories, past lawsuits and comments about women by Michael Bloomberg — many of which got ample attention during his brief run for president of the United States earlier this year.
This is the second time that Bloomberg has been sued over Rose’s conduct. Last September, the company was also sued by his longtime makeup artist who says she witnessed him harass women in the workplace for more than 20 years and that she was denied severance when his show was canceled and she lost her job.
A spokesperson for Bloomberg LLP responded, “At all relevant times, the plaintiffs were not employees of Bloomberg L.P., because Charlie Rose Inc. operated independently of us. Regardless, we take any complaints seriously, investigate thoroughly, and take appropriate action, where necessary, and we have no record of a complaint about Mr. Rose from either plaintiff or other individuals. As soon as we were aware of allegations that were reported in the media in 2017, we immediately suspended re-airing the show on our our network.”
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