Lockhart Steele, Vox Media’s editorial director, has been “terminated effective immediately” after a former employee accused him of sexual harassment.
“Lockhart Steele was terminated effective immediately,” CEO Jim Bankoff told staff in a memo on Thursday, according to The Awl. “Lockhart admitted engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with our core values and is not tolerated at Vox Media.
Vox Media is committed to fostering a safe and welcoming community, and appreciates those who have been willing to speak up and share information during the course of this investigation,” the memo reportedly said.
Steel — who was managing editor at the now-defunct far-left Gawker Media — was reportedly the subject of a Medium post published last week, in which former Vox Media web developer Eden Rohatensky detailed alleged sexual misconduct by several employees at the company.
Rohatensky never named Steele or Vox Media in the Medium post titled “Why I’m not surprised when I hear that powerful men are f**king creeps:
I was fired a month later due to lack of productivity. No longer fearful of losing my job, I reached out to a few of the people I had worked with. I reported what had happened with the VP. A year later, I found out that an investigation had been done. That he had multiple victims within the company. That his punishment was being told he could not drink at corporate events any longer.
Not once were real consequences doled out to any of the men who assaulted me. There were no consequences for the man with the same job title as me, who had happened to work that job two years longer than I had. Consequences weren’t given to the man who started two years after I had, because his job title was seen as superior to mine. Consequences weren’t given to my supervisor, because I was too afraid of being fired and didn’t feel like I was able to report him. Consequences weren’t given to the VP, because he was in too high of a position of power.
Steele’s firing comes after Vox Media partnered with Intel and Lady Gaga’s youth-focused Born This Way organization to launch an anti-online harassment initiative called Hack Harassment.
The ousted executive tweeted that he was “proud to announce Hack Harassment” last January.
Bankoff addressed staff on Friday, announcing that the investigation that led to Steele’s firing is “ongoing” and encouraged others to be forthcoming.
“While we were able to take swift action … based on what we uncovered so far in the investigation, we’re trying to stress that the investigation is not done,” Bankoff said according to The Hollywood Reporter. “There are multiple investigations happening.”
“It’s important for me to stress that, because there are still people coming forward, and I want to encourage people who have not yet come forward to do so as well,” he said Friday. “We want all the information that we can get. It’s important to the company, it’s important to our culture to get that information.”
The longtime chief executive reportedly praised Rohatensky, said law firm Gibson Dunn is assisting in the investigation, and told his staff to expect swift action going forward.
“All investigations, including that one, that yield findings of misconduct, I will always act swiftly to protect our employees, our culture, and in doing so, I will protect our company,” he said.
Steele founded the real estate site Curbed.com, which includes lifestyle sites Eater and Racked — brands Steel later sold to Vox Media in a deal worth a reported $20 to $30 million. Editorial brands under the Vox Media umbrella include the Ezra Klein-founded left-wing blog Vox.com, The Verge, Recode, and the sports blog SB Nation.
Steele’s ousting comes as Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal has spread from Hollywood to the music and fashion industries.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson
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