CBS has hired the law firm Proskauer Rose to investigate allegations of racism, sexism, and abusive workplace behavior at its CBS TV stations, according to multiple reports.
The investigation is expected to look into the conduct of Peter Dunn, president of CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, senior vice president of news for the stations. Both have been placed on leave after the Los Angeles Times reported accusations that they blocked the hiring and retention of black employees and intimidated female co-workers.
ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish urged employees to “assist in the investigation by coming forward to share their concerns.”
“To be clear: our company takes any allegation of misconduct very seriously, which is why we have moved quickly to engage an external investigator to conduct a review of this matter,” Bakish wrote in a memo obtained by The Wrap.
CBS Entertainment Group president and CEO George Cheeks also encouraged employees to come forward.
“We also want all employees to know they can and should raise concerns in good faith and without fear which is why we prohibit retaliation — in any form — against anyone who speaks up,” he reportedly said.
He said Keisha-Ann Gray of Proskauer Rose will lead the investigation. Gray’s profile on the firm’s official site describes her as the “go-to advisor when addressing issues related to discrimination, harassment, and/or lack of diversity.”
CBS has been mired in embarrassing scandals involving alleged misconduct at the network’s highest levels. Les Moonves resigned in disgrace as chief executive in 2018 following accusations of sexual misconduct, including assault. Charlie Rose stepped down the year before as co-host of CBS This Morning after several women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Jeff Fager, former chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes, stepped down in 2018 following reports that he allowed sexual harassment to go unchecked in the network’s news division.