In a bold move the California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against Disney, CBS, and executive producers that work in creating CBS’ longstanding show, Criminal Minds.
Various set production crew members allege that the director of photography, Gregory St. John, sexually harassed them on set for the past 14 years, according to the complaint filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The complaint recounts the experience of Anthony Matulic, a technician on set, who endured sexual touching by St. John. Yet, Matulic was met with retaliation as he was quickly fired after he complained about the sexual harassment. Another employee, Dauv McNeely, also stepped forward to corroborate past employees allegations and to file his own complaints against St. John. Similarly, McNeely’s complaints were ignored and he was also retaliated upon as he was shortly thereafter fired. Allegedly, St. John pushed for the firing of over a dozen individuals in an act of retaliation after these employees either complained about or evaded his sexual harassment.
It was these allegations above and more that drove the DFEH to make a statement against sexual harassment in Hollywood by targeting not Gregory St. John, who already has lawsuits filed against him, but the bigger names behind the workplace harassment and retaliation, specifically the Walt Disney Company, ABC Signature Studios and CBS Studios.
These big name companies, as well as the high level executive producers including show-runner Erica Messer, and director Glenn Kershaw are said to have protected St. John despite knowing about his predatory behavior. These companies and individuals also failed in conducting fair investigations when the complaints were brought to their attention, which allowed St. John to continue his unlawful behavior for 14 years. The complaint goes on to say that these companies and individuals “not only had actual and constructive knowledge of St. Johns’ abusive conduct, they condoned it. No necessary steps to prevent sex-based harassment and discrimination were taken over the years, nor were appropriate corrective actions. Instead, the executives fired anyone who resisted or who tacitly evaded St. Johns’ advances or abuse.”
Gregory St. John was fired after Variety published a story that uncovered the years of sexual harassment misconduct occurring on the set of Criminal Minds. The DFEH’s complaint highlights this by remarking that it was only after Variety came out with this story that CBS finally fired St. John as a way to save their public image, yet, upon firing of St. John he was still given an enhanced severance payment.
In a comment responding to the lawsuit, ABC studios says “The Company works hard to maintain a work environment free from discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. In this instance the Company took corrective action. We cooperated with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing during its investigation, and we regret that we were unable to reach a reasonable resolution with the Department. We now intend to defend the asserted claims vigorously.”
The full complaint can be found here.
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