Did Letterman create a hostile work environment?

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Did Letterman create a hostile work environment?

Thu Oct 08, 2009 @ 10:54AM PST

By Eriq Gardner


David-letterman_l It's only been a week since David Letterman revealed that he had sexual relationships with staffers on "Late Show," and yet there seems to be enough rumors and innuendo floating around to devote an entire blog to the subject.

We were thrilled to see that Letterman paid the tab for Stephanie Birkitt — the woman who allegedly was sleeping with both Letterman and his blackmailer — to go to Yeshiva University Law School. Nice to see late night hosts supporting the legal profession.

Still, the big center of our attention is whether CBS or Letterman's Worldwide Pants company plan to conduct a proper in-house review of this matter. Beyond accused blackmailer Robert Halderman's involvement in the scandal, we'd like to know whether Letterman's dalliances created a hostile work environment for female staffers on the show. The network's PR folks seem to be going to lengths to caution reporters that CBS is working with legal authorities to investigate Halderman's conduct, but what about the environment on the show itself?

CBS is now coming under pressure from groups like NOW to "take action immediately to rectify the situation."

Our outline of the legal ramifications of the Letterman admission stands. We're not sure why CBS won't admit it is conducting a review, but if reports that Birkitt has been put on paid leave and has hired a lawyer are accurate, the network should take steps to limit its potential liabilty. We're guessing lawyers and flacks for the network are probably in constant contact these days, tip-toeing over how to handle this developing situation.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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