Universal Fires Exec Seth Byers Over "Inappropriate Conduct" Claim

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Seth Byers

The studio's president of marketing, Josh Goldstine, has been placed on leave while an investigation takes place.

Following allegations of "inappropriate conduct" reported in Universal's marketing department, the studio has parted ways with Seth Byers, executive vp creative strategy and research, while Josh Goldstine, president of marketing, has been placed on administrative leave.

The decision was detailed in a note sent Wednesday to staff from Jeff Shell and Donna Langley, which says that they have found the allegations to be "both credible and indicative of an unacceptable climate." They added: "Our highest priority is to provide a working environment where every employee feels heard, seen and safe." 

The note does not detail the nature of the allegations against the execs, but a full review of the marketing department will be taking place, along with mandatory in-person respect-in-the-workplace training for all motion picture group employees.

Goldstine joined Universal in 2011, following two decades at Sony, and was named the studio's president of worldwide marketing in 2014. Byers followed Goldstine from Sony to Universal in 2013. 

Goldstine will remain on leave while an investigation takes place, meaning the highest ranking exec, Michael Moses, co-president of marketing, is likely left in charge. 

The shakeup of Universal's marketing department arrives as companies are taking a closer look at claims of inappropriate conduct amidst a wave of allegations from across the industry that began in October with reports of decades-worth of accusations leveled against Harvey Weinstein. 

Read Shell and Langley's full note sent to studio staff, below. 

Late last week, we received allegations of inappropriate conduct in the Universal Pictures Marketing Department. The information provided was detailed, and we believe both credible and indicative of an unacceptable climate.

Effective immediately, Seth Byers, Executive Vice President, Creative Strategy and Research, will no longer be with the company.

Josh Goldstine, President of Marketing, has been placed on administrative leave while we conduct a thorough investigation. These steps are necessary as part of a broader evaluation of the environment in our division.

Our highest priority is to provide a working environment where every employee feels heard, seen and safe. We commend the people who have had the courage to come forward. We have no tolerance for harassment or other disrespectful behavior, and we will be taking any necessary steps to ensure that actions that violate our core values are dealt with swiftly and decisively.

We will be doing a number of things to address this immediately, including a full review in the marketing department to ensure every employee has the opportunity to voice concerns, raise any issues and provide feedback about the working environment, and we are prepared to take whatever additional action is needed.

We will also be launching mandatory in-person respect-in-the-workplace training for all employees in the motion picture group to supplement existing training. This new training will be held in small groups working together to better understand how we all can contribute to a culture where we treat each other appropriately.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you about any concerns you may have. You may come directly to either of us, your manager or our HR team. Or, if you would be more comfortable, the company provides other tools outside the organization that allow you to report anonymously, including the Comcast Listens website at www.ComcastListens.com or 877-405-4783, and the NBCU Ombudsman at integrity@nbcuni.com.

We are committed to you, the employees who drive this company and show passion and dedication in everything you do. We are a resilient, strong organization who sticks together in good times and bad. This is a time for us to recognize that we must foster greater respect and transparency, and we will do that together.

We, along with our HR team, will be available throughout the entire day to answer your questions or address any concerns you may have. 

Feb. 20, 1:54 pm Updated language to note that companies are taking a closer look at claims of inappropriate conduct across the industry. 

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