Two Vice Executives Placed On Leave Following Sexual Harassment Claims
Vice Media has placed two of its top executives on leave following a detailed report in The New York Times that included allegations of sexual harassment against both men.
COO Sarah Broderick sent a memo to staff on Tuesday morning disclosing that chief digital officer Mike Germano and president Andrew Creighton had been put on leave in light of the allegations. “It is a new year,” Broderick wrote in the memo, a copy of which a source sent to The Hollywood Reporter. “And a new year is a time for change — no more so than here at Vice.”
A Vice spokesman declined to comment on the contents of the memo.
The Times piece, which included interviews with over 100 current and former Vice employees, reported that Vice had settled with a former employee in 2016, paying her $135,000, after she claimed that she was fired after rejecting a relationship with Creighton.
Creighton responded to the report with a statement saying that he had been “close friends” with the woman prior to her employment and that despite a relationship that was “occasionally intimate” he was not involved in the decision to let her go.
In her memo, Broderick said that Vice at the time the allegation against Creighton was brought forward, Vice had retained an independent law firm and “the claim was found to lack merit.” Now, a Vice special committee will review the facts and make a recommendation to senior management by Jan. 11, when Vice will hold its next board meeting. Creighton has been put on leave until that time.
The report also included allegations from two women against Germano, whose digital ad agency, Carrot Creative,Vice acquired in 2013. One former employee, Amanda Rue, told the Times that Germano said he wanted to hire her because he wanted to have sex with her. Another, Gabrielle Schaefer, said Germano made advances during a night out in 2014 and that, after reporting the actions to human resources, she felt that she lost stature the company.
Germano responded to the Times that a statement that says “I do not believe that these allegations reflect the company’s culture — or the way we treat each other” and continues, “With regards to the incident with Ms. Schaefer, I agreed at the time it was inappropriate, I apologized, and it was resolved with the help of HR.”
Broderick said that the claims against Germano will be investigated by HR with an external investigator and that Germano will be put on leave until that process is completed. Day-to-day operations of Carrot will continue to be led by Carrot president Adam Katzenback.
The memo also included steps that Vice is taking to address the reports about a toxic workplace culture for women within the company. That includes the hiring of a new head of HR, Susan Tohyama, and new requirements that all Vice employees participate in mandatory sexual harassment training. Further, Broderick said that Vice is committed to have an even 50/50 split of women and men across every level of the company by 2020, and that the makeup of the board of directors has changed.
“Let’s be frank — we need more women and diversity throughout the organization,” she wrote. “The Company is making visible changes to its leadership and more will be announced over the next couple of months.”
This story originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.