Shelley Kanther from Lawnside, New Jersey, a former CBS Radio employee, has claimed she suffered “severe” sexual harassment while working for the network – and was fired for speaking up.
Shelley Kanther said male colleagues guessed her bra size and slapped her on the behind while she worked as the director of marketing communications at KYW Newsradio between April 2009 and August 2010.
Her co-workers at the Philadelphia station said she was probably “fiery in bed” and addressed her as “baby”, a law suit filed against CBS claims.
Shelley Kanther, 36, also complained about the “toxic” atmosphere of the office, where the men allegedly told her to wear skirts more often, considered offering her money to kiss another worker and spoke loudly about their sexual conquests.
When Shelley Kanther complained about the comments to management, her pleas were allegedly ignored – until they “illegally” fired her for speaking up.
Shelley Kanther is now seeking unspecified damages for the alleged treatment, which is reminiscent of the sexist work atmosphere of television show Mad Men, set in the 1960s.
“The sexual harassment, sexually laced innuendos and comments were of a severe, pervasive and continuing nature, were degrading and extremely upsetting to Ms Kanther and persisted unabated until she was illegally terminated on August 6, 2010, in retaliation for her numerous complaints to management,” the lawsuit states.
“The CBS Philly management was well aware of the severe and pervasive sexual harassment in the workplace, but did nothing to stop it.”
The suit claims that the discrimination caused Shelley Kanther suffering, including anxiety, humiliation, emotional distress and lost pay and benefits.
“It was egregious what happened. It was terrible,” Shelley Kanther’s attorney Samuel First told the Philadelphia Daily News.
The suit claims Marc Rayfield, CBS Radio Philadelphia’s senior vice president was “one of the worst offenders”.
It alleges that during a business trip to Atlantic City, Marc Rayfield talked about wanting to kiss Shelley Kanther.
He sang Stay with Me Tonight during a karaoke session while “suggestively dancing in front of her, uncomfortably close”, the Daily News quotes the suit as saying.
Marc Rayfield talked about sex acts in a loud voice with his office door open, Shelley Kanther claims.
When she complained, he allegedly fired her, saying she “couldn’t take it”.
“Of course she couldn’t take it,” Samuel First added.
“It was a good ol’ boys club.”
The suit claims Shelley Kanther complained about the treatment to another female employee, who said that “that’s always how it has been here”.
“It wasn’t a pleasant situation, that’s for sure,” said Shelley Kanther.
The suit adds that David Yadgaroff, vice president and general sales manager for KYW, allegedly failed to take action when Shelley Kanther complained about how she had been treated.
Shelley Kanther adds that her starting salary of $58,000 was three to six times less than what the station’s other department heads – who were all male were paid, and that this violated the Equal Pay Act.
Karen Matteo, spokesperson for CBS New York, declined to comment on the suit.
A jury trial has been demanded.