nsucurrent.com May 21, 2018

LA Times Publisher Takes Unpaid Leave of Absence Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation

20 January 2018, 05:22 | Ruby West

Lucy Nicholson Reuters People walk past the LA Times building in Los Angeles

Lucy Nicholson  Reuters
People walk past the LA Times building in Los Angeles

"This week, the company learned of allegations of inappropriate behavior by Ross Levinsohn", Tronc Chief Executive Justin Dearborn said in a note to employees.

The report, based on dozens of interviews with former colleagues and court records from sexual harassment suits, details a pattern of Levinsohn objectifying women he worked with and allowing male co-workers to do the same.

He was also described by the report as a homophobe.

More than 180 newsroom staffers had signed a letter to Tronc's board calling for Levinsohn's removal. The newspaper has aggressively disclosed the sexual misconduct of powerful men in the fields of entertainment, politics and media.

She added that the company conducted "standard background checks" on Levinsohn before he was hired and was unaware of the allegations until learning of them from NPR this week.

The announcement comes a day after an NPR report uncovered allegations of sexual misconduct against the Times' publisher and CEO, Ross Levinsohn, increasing tensions between staffers and the executives who have always been hostile to the union campaign. At a lunch for the publication The Hollywood Reporter, Levinsohn once referred to the male guests with a derogatory word for gay men. The web version of the report, by NPR News Media Correspondent David Folkenflik, is headlined "Accusations Of "Frat House" Behavior Trail "LA Times" Publisher's Career."

The newsroom held a vote to join the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America in the first week of January, and the National Labor Relations Board tallied the results on Friday.

Prior to Dearborn's announcement, the Times newsroom had been speaking up loudly against Levinsohn.

It must be noted, however, almost every employee interviewed refused to have their names published and Levinsohn has referred to the allegations as "lies".

The paper's publisher, Tronc, has also firmly rebuffed the union campaign that staffers launched in October, warning that in attempts to negotiate for better compensation, union members may be forced to lose out on other benefits, such as 401 (k) matching.

"We respect the outcome of the election and look forward to productive conversations with union leadership as we move forward", the statement reads. "At Tronc, we expect all employees to act in a way that supports a culture of diversity and inclusion. Once that review is complete, we will take swift and appropriate action to address any behavior that falls short of our expectations".

The Los Angeles Times' editorial staff voted to unionize in a rebuke to owner Tronc Inc. that marks a new era in the newspaper's 136-year history.

During a second lawsuit in 2006, at a time when Levinsohn was a News Corp executive, Amber Tribble a video producer claimed her boss, who was a Levinsohn subordinate, had sexually harassed her.

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