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On Friday afternoon, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff informed his staff that the company has completed a review into the allegations made by a former employee that led to the termination of Lockhart Steele, who had served as editorial director. The investigation was announced on Oct. 20.
The investigation was conducted by Gibson Dunn, an outside law firm. Bankoff summed up the findings: “The investigation found that more than one person experienced behavior from Lockhart Steele that was inappropriate and unacceptable. The behavior clearly crossed the line of professionalism and violated company policy against sexual harassment.”
Bankoff said that, in addition to Steele, a second person mentioned in the original allegations was investigated. While investigators were unable to corroborate or confirm the allegations, the unnamed individual has resigned from the company, Bankoff said.
In the memo, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Bankoff also explained why the company did not act sooner on the complaints made by the former employee, Eden Rohatensky.
Bankoff said that in the spring of 2016, Vox Media chief legal officer Lauren Fisher “conducted an informal inquiry” into the matter. Following the inquiry, “Lauren took corrective actions with Lock, doing what she felt she could at the time to protect the broader community while also protecting the anonymity of those who came forward.” Bankoff conveyed that Fisher now wishes she could have investigated the claims “more vigorously.”
Bankoff also outlined some initiatives the company will undertake as a result of the investigation, including mandatory anti-harassment training and a more defined set of procedures for dealing with employee complaints.
“While these steps are critical to scale our culture and performance in the right ways, I want to be clear that first and foremost, our obligation as employees of this company is to treat our colleagues with respect in all situations, or face consequences,” Bankoff wrote.
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