CBS Hit With Bias Suit From Top Reality TV Executive

Ghen Maynard, who developed such shows as 'Survivor' and 'Amazing Race,' alleges CBS mistreats minorities.
Courtesy of Cliff Lipson/CBS
Ghen Maynard

Ghen Maynard, who was brought back to CBS three years ago to revive its unscripted department, has launched a discrimination lawsuit against the company after apparently being terminated last month. According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, the firing occurred after an investigation into an allegation that he mistreated a female co-worker.

Maynard was responsible for developing such shows as Survivor, Big Brother and The Amazing Race. More recently, he worked on BH90210, an offshoot of Beverly Hills 90210 where the stars played heightened versions of themselves. He also takes credit for making the deal to bring Tiffany Haddish to host Kids Say the Darndest Things and selling Whistleblower to CBS. In 2016, Maynard became senior executive vp alternative programming at CBS' in-house operations.

In his age and race discrimination lawsuit, the Japan-born Maynard says he is the "only non-white executive at CBS Studios" and that the CBS workplace hasn't improved since the departure of CEO Leslie Moonves, who left the company amid a sexual misconduct scandal last year.

"Since Mr. Moonves' departure, CBS has become a radically different place," states the complaint. "Despite blaming all of its problems on Mr. Moonves and claiming that it has taken steps to improve race and gender issues at the Company, today's CBS 'leaders,' those making the key decisions on such issues, are all white males, whose decisions belie CBS' self-serving rhetoric."

Maynard alleges his personal experiences confirm discrimination against minorities at CBS. At meetings, minorities are relegated to sit in the back rows, he says, adding that sometimes, they are often excluded from attending altogether. Maynard says he's been told that other CBS executives are "threatened" by him and that his work has been unfairly disparaged. He also points to the termination in September of Angelica McDaniels, an executive in the daytime programs division.

"Amplifying its mistreatment of Mr. Maynard, earlier this year, CBS subjected Mr. Maynard to a biased, sham 'investigation' into a false and ludicrous allegation that he mistreated a female co-worker on the writing team when he asked a quiet male employee on the same team for his opinions during a meeting," states the complaint.

As part of the investigation, Maynard says he was interviewed by Tim Farrell, vp human resources at CBS.

In June 2019, CBS Studios president David Stapf informed Maynard he was being removed from BH90210, according to the complaint.

"When Mr. Maynard contacted HR about the decision, Mr. Farrell not only told Mr. Maynard that he was not found to have violated CBS policy, but he let it spill that it was white male Mr. Stapf who nevertheless decided to remove Mr. Maynard from the show," continues the complaint.

Maynard says he found out that he was being terminated Oct. 2 when Stapf allegedly called him into a meeting with the revelation that his department was being "eliminated." Maynard says he's one of many upper-level executives over the age of 40 recently fired. His last day of employment is set for Dec. 2.

Maynard's departure roughly coincides with the expected closing of the merger between CBS and Viacom, a transaction that will lead to some layoffs.

A statement from CBS reads: "Mr. Maynard's contract was not renewed due to the elimination of the Studio’s alternative programming department. The claims in this suit are completely without merit, and we will defend against it vigorously."

Nov. 25, 12:23 p.m. Updated with statement from CBS.