New CBS Sexual Harassment Infrastructure Seems to be Working Just as Poorly as Previous Policy

Photo: John Sciulli (Getty Images)

Two women quit the CBS sitcom “Carol’s Second Act” after, they allege, the network’s new sexual harassment policy failed them after David Hunt (show star Patricia Heaton’s husband), was accused of inappropriately touching a staff writer on and off set.

Writer Broti Gupta, 25, made a formal complaint against Hunt, who is an executive producer on the show, in early September, alleging Hunt inappropriately touched her twice, according to The New York Times. Gupta’s allegation would test the new infrastructure for handling sexual harassment complaints at CBS that was put in place in May. The Times reported that the network described this new plan as having a “very expanded and visible” infrastructure. By Gupta’s account, the new process didn’t really help anyone involved.

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Here’s the details of what Gupta alleged: At a cast and crew dinner in early August, Gupta said Hunt hugged her twice from the side, “complimented her pants and ran a hand up the side of her thigh,” while they stood near the valet stand, the Times reported. She told her boyfriend (also a television writer) and friend (an actress) that night. (Her boyfriend urged her to come forward, while her friend had reservations, according to interviews.) Hunt’s lawyer Bryan Freedman said Hunt “did not remember the details as described” and “does not recall rubbing anyone’s thigh or leg and he disputes that characterization of it.”

For the second incident, I’m going to put the entire paragraph from the Times report. Hunt’s lawyer also disputes the characterization of this incident.

She was seated on a high folding chair, the kind known as a director’s chair, on the lot. Ms. Magee, the co-executive producer, was seated next to her as Mr. Hunt approached. He seemed to be looking for something, Ms. Gupta and Ms. Magee said, when he took Ms. Gupta by the shoulders and jerked her forward. Ms. Magee jumped out of her chair and said, “Excuse me,” she told The Times. Mr. Hunt said nothing and walked away, the two women said. 

The “Ms. Magee” is Margee Magee, a 43-year-old writer and co-executive producer on the sitcom. Magee told the f that she encouraged Gupta to go to the showrunners. Gupta talked to HR executive after that conversation.

Gupta told the Times that she did not want Hunt, 65, to be fired when she made her complaint to HR. “I told them just my own personal code of ethics, which is that if there is space for education instead of punitive measures, then I believe in education,” she told the newspaper.

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But Gupta said she still felt sidelined because of her complaint and ended up quitting the show by the middle of September. Magee described similar feelings and resigned by October. “In truth, the people who are there to enforce the new protocol just don’t do it,” Magee told the Times.

Read the entire Times story here.

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