'60 Minutes' Producer Sues CBS for Gender Discrimination, Retaliation

The CBS logo - CBS Building, headquarters of the CBS Corporation, in New York City on August 6, 2018 - Getty-H 2019
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

London-based Cassandra Vinograd says her boss sent her an inappropriate photograph and drank excessively.

Cassandra Vinograd, a London-based associate producer for 60 Minutes, has sued CBS for "unlawful discriminatory conduct" and "unlawful retaliatory conduct" after she attempted to report her boss for misconduct.

In September 2019, Vinograd "emailed senior executives and the general counsel, to describe her serious concerns regarding 'highly inappropriate, unprofessional and upsetting events'" involving her boss, longtime CBS News producer Michael Gavshon, who she claims sent her an inappropriate photograph. She asked for an investigation and to be protected from "retaliation."

"In the ensuing days, through a series of swift moving events, Cassie was ostracized, isolated and penalized for calling out what she perceived as inappropriate conduct by Gavshon," the suit claims. "Gavshon quickly removed her from all stories in production, including a segment she had pitched and performed the majority of the work on. In deference to Gavshon, CBS executives did nothing to stop his blatant retaliation. Worse, senior executives ratified his personal vendetta by willingly sending temporary associate producers to replace Cassie and work with Gavshon."

In addition to her concerns about his "excessive drinking," Gavshon sent her "an old photo of Gavshon and some friends urinating on what appeared to be smoldering coal." (Gavshon claimed to her that he meant to send the photo to his sister.)

According to correspondence that Vinograd was shown, a CBS investigation determined that "this is clearly a photo that should not have been shared with you." But, the company added, "Michael has assured us that he sent the photo to you by accident and that he was appalled and embarrassed for inadvertently doing so. We accept his explanation that he sent this photo to you entirely by accident and believe that this was an isolated incident with no malicious intent on the part of Michael."

In a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday evening, CBS News said: "CBS News is in the process of reviewing the complaint filed by Ms. Vinograd and plans to vigorously defend against this lawsuit. 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."

Gavshon released his own statement simultaneously, recounting the events that led to him sending the inappropriate photo to Vinograd. "I immediately deleted the picture and apologized profusely," he said. "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. I also want to refute Ms. Vinograd's allegations regarding drinking and add that I have an established record of responsible behavior at work over the last thirty years."

Before joining CBS News this past summer, Vinograd worked for NBC News, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.

Dec. 17, 4:45 p.m. Updated to include statements from CBS News and Gavshon.