Two high-ranking staff members at Vice Media have been placed on leave after sexual misconduct allegations against them emerged, according to a Tuesday morning staff memo obtained by HuffPost.
The two men placed on leave are President Andrew Creighton and Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano, who were both named in New York Times reporter Emily Steel’s bombshell report last month exploring Vice Media’s alleged toxic workplace culture for women. She also broke news of the memo on Tuesday.
According to the memo from Sarah Broderick, Vice Media’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Creighton suggested he take leave while a special committee of Vice’s board reviews the allegations made against him in the Times story.
In 2016, the story said, Creighton paid $135,000 to a former employee who claimed she was fired after refusing “an intimate relationship” with him.
While an independent law firm at the time found the claim to lack merit and the company paid the settlement “to avoid the expense and distraction of litigation,” Broderick wrote in Tuesday’s memo, the committee will carry out the second review as a “further step” and make a recommendation on his employment by Jan. 11.
The claims against Germano, who also serves as the CEO of Vice digital agency Carrot, will be investigated by Vice’s human resources department alongside an external investigator, according to the memo.
One former Carrot employee told the Times that in 2012, Germano told her at the company holiday party that he hadn’t wanted to hire her because he wanted to have sex with her. Another former employee said Germano pulled her onto his lap during a work event at a bar in 2014. After reporting the incident to HR, she felt the incident caused her to fall “out of favor” at the company and left.
In anticipation of the Times report, about which rumors circulated weeks before it was published, several Vice employees told HuffPost’s Ashley Feinberg in November that they were disappointed in the company’s lack of response to other toxic workplace allegations published in a damning Daily Beast report days earlier.
Several also said they were cautiously hopeful that promises to address the problems at the company ― such as establishing an all-female advisory board that includes Gloria Steinem, former Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen and other high-profile names ― will be carried out effectively.
Ashley Feinberg contributed reporting.