‘Criminal Minds’ Production Company Settles State Of California’s Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $3 Million

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The production company behind the series Criminal Minds has settled a lawsuit brought by the California Civil Rights Department over claims that male crew members were subject to retaliation when they complained that they were sexually harassed by the show’s director of photography.

The state agency announced on Monday that Walt Disney Co. subsidiary ABC Signature, the producer of the show, will pay $3 million to resolve the claims. The agency filed a lawsuit in 2020 against Disney, CBS and others, alleging that for 14 seasons of the show, the DP, Gregory St. Johns, “subjected male crew members to sexual
harassment, including unwanted touching and caressing, and made unwelcome and threatening
comments.”

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The director of the agency, Kevin Kish, said in a statement, “Crew members courageously came forward to assert their right to make a living free from sexual harassment. No matter the industry, workplace setting, or gender of the employees, companies must address credible complaints of harassment and retaliation and take action against harassers.”

The California Civil Rights Department alleged that the production companies and producers ignored the harassment and failed to act on the complaints. ABC Signature will be under a three year consent decree to resolve the case and will revise and distribute policies to all shows produced by the company, as well as report compliance annually to the state agency, among other things. The $3 million will be distributed to a class of about a dozen individuals.

At the time that the lawsuit was filed, ABC Signature said, “The company works hard to maintain a work environment free from discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. In this instance the Company took corrective action. We cooperated with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing during its investigation, and we regret that we were unable to reach a reasonable resolution with the Department. We now intend to defend the asserted claims vigorously.”

The state agency alleged violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Ralph Civil Rights Act, and a provision in the Civil Code that prohibits sexual harassment in business, service, and professional relationships.

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