60 Minutes boss’s ‘creepy’ text to female journalist
A media boss has been rocked by allegations made by a junior female staffer who claimed he sent her a photo of himself and his friends urinating on a fire.
Cassandra Vinograd was hired as an associate producer at US TV network CBS in June this year.
She worked under 60 Minutes senior producer Michael Gavshon, 63, in the network's London office.
In legal documents seen by news.com.au, Ms Vinograd alleges she discovered Mr Gavshon "drank alcohol often and excessively" soon after joining the team, often "openly in the office and out in the field in front of CBS employees".
The 35-year-old claims workers were "expected to tolerate him in a drunken state", even when he "became belligerent or passed out drunk" in the workplace.
She alleged employees would often have to repeat things to Mr Gavshon when he was drunk and "decipher his slurred words".
Ms Vinograd expressed her concerns about her boss's drinking to her husband and once texted him a photo of Mr Gavshon "passed out in her office".
She became increasingly "upset and worried" by his "level of alcohol abuse" but said she was afraid to speak up initially as a new employee.
But the legal documents claimed "things changed" after a business trip to Hungary when Mr Gavshon allegedly texted Ms Vinograd an old photograph of himself and a friend "urinating on what appeared to be smouldering coal".
The photo left Ms Vinograd "disgusted, uncomfortable and scared" as Mr Gavshon "controlled her fate" at CBS.
"Regardless of the photo being of Gavshon in much younger days, it was creepy and gross to receive a picture of her boss's penis and urine stream," the legal documents state.
"She did not find it appropriate that the photo included another man alongside Gavshon who also was holding his penis and urinating.
"Shocked, Cassie did not respond to Gavshon's text."
More than an hour later, Ms Vinograd allegedly received a second text from her boss apologising and claiming the picture was meant for his sister instead.
She claims those "late-night texts" coupled with her concern about her boss's drinking alarmed her, as she knew "that her future work required many days and nights of travel alone with Gavshon"
So a rattled Ms Vinograd reported the situation to executives at CBS in New York, asking for the matter to be remain confidential and requesting an investigation and "protection from retaliation".
But Ms Vinograd claims she wasn't given any assignments since reporting her boss, and he removed her from projects she had been working on and replaced her with other staffers, effectively stripping her of work responsibilities.
She also claims she has been "consistently excluded from work meetings, calls and emails".
She is now suing CBS for retaliation and gender discrimination and is being represented by law firm Wigdor LLP.
In a statement, Wigdor LLP partner Jeanne M Christensen said the firm looked forward "to holding CBS accountable for its unlawful conduct".
"Contrary to CBS's claims that it is doing the right thing when female employees report gender-related misconduct, as alleged, it appears that no meaningful changes to the culture at CBS have been made," she said.
"It appears that CBS continues to protect senior male talent at the expense of junior women - business as usual."
The case follows other high-profile scandals at CBS, including the sacking of CEO Les Moonves and 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager, who were fired over sexual misconduct allegations.