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‘60 Minutes’ Producer Files Lawsuit Against CBS Claiming Gender Discrimination and Retaliation

Emanuel Shirazi

CBS’ “60 Minutes” is currently dealing with a lawsuit that accuses them of gender discrimination and sexual harassment by several management employees. Allegedly, the star correspondent, Lesley Stahl, asked a female job candidate if she would “use her body to secure stories.”

Former producer, Alexandra Poolos, who had been working for ’60 Minutes’ for the past 10 years was terminated in February 2022. She filed a lawsuit against CBS and Paramount, alleging prevalent misogyny at the network. Poolos interview for her job in 2011 by Lesley Stahl. It was during the interview that Stahl allegedly inquired if Poolos would be willing to “use her body to secure stories.” Poolos’ lawsuit stated that she had never heard a show Correspondent suggest that a male employee use his body to gain information regarding a story.

Poolos lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, October 10, includes allegation regarding the toxic and misogynistic environment that is extremely prominent in the network. Her former supervisor, Producer Shachar Bar-On, allowed Poolos to experience constant emotional abuse and sexual harassment over the course of her employment. Bar-On would constantly make derogatory comments about the physical appearance of other female employees. He would frequently make fun of Stahl’s physical appearance and would refer to her as ‘disgusting.’ Bar-On’s behavior was well-known within the network.

Bill Owens, executive producer of “60 Minutes”, allegedly talked about Bar-On’s behavior with Poolos and his suspicion that the Producer had a mood disorder. In addition to that, Owen’s had told Poolos that she could transfer to another team, but she would not be able to work with Stahl as an Associated Producer. Poolos would have to inform Stahl directly that she would be requesting a transfer due to Bar-On’s behavior.

In 2013, Poolos released her first individually produced story. Jeff Fager, former showrunner, pointed out that she must feel good to be liberated from Bar-On, referring to his sexist and abusive behavior. Fager was also mentioned in the lawsuit due to his termination and sexual misconduct claims that had come up in 2018. The lawsuit also mentions Stahl’s comments regarding Bar-On, including an instance when she told Poolos that she respected her for not formally complaining about Bar-On and focusing on her work instead. Bar-On’s alleged harassment occurred over a span of 6 years.

Shachar Bar-On once told Poolos that he had been watching pornographic content on his work computer and was distressed because Stahl had asked to use his laptop at the airport, and he was unsure if he had closed the tab that contained the sexually explicit videos.

Producer, Keith Sharman, along with Bar-On once mocked actress Natalie Portman’s body, specifically her breast, in front of Poolos. During a work trip to Italy, Bar-On made an indecent proposal to Poolos while intoxicated and invited her to his hotel room. He would constantly comment on Poolos’ wardrobe and how it fit her body, even going as far as encouraging her to stay at a certain weight and telling her which clothes would emphasize her body.

Once Poolos announced her pregnancy in March 2016, Bar-On allegedly told her that she would need to make major changes once she gave birth, including resigning from her job at 60 minutes. In August 2016, Bar-On was asked by a male employee in her could borrow a copy of a Vanity Fair Magazine that featured an image of actress Margot Robbie. According to the complaint, Bar-On told the employee that he could borrow it as long as he didn’t return it with “sticky” pages.

Poolos included in her lawsuit the $30.5 million settlement with New York Attorney General Letitia James that CBS paid out in 2022 cover up several sexual assault allegation against former executive, Leslie Moonves.

A senior producer at the network had been notified of Bar-On’s behavior, yet according to Poolos’ no one investigated the complaints. Allegedly, CBS retaliated against her even after her termination in February of 2022. Poolos informed CBS of her intent to pursue legal claims.

Shortly after, CBS requested negative information from colleagues related to Poolos to sabotage her success and good reputation within the industry. Poolos’ current lawsuit claims gender discrimination, retaliation and breach of contract. In addition to that, she is seeking an order requiring the network to adopt antidiscrimination policies.

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