Ross Levinsohn, the CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, has been a defendant in two separate sexual-harassment lawsuits during his career, according to a new investigation from NPR. He reportedly admitted in court to rating the “hotness” of female subordinates and making crude comments while serving as an executive at a digital media company, among other allegations.
According to NPR, while serving as an executive at the search engine company Alta Vista in 2001, Levinsohn was one of several defendants in a sexual harassment and discrimination case. He reportedly admitted under oath to ranking the looks and bodies of female colleagues, in addition to conceding to discussing whether a female colleague worked as a stripper on the side and speculating whether she had slept with a co-worker. The suit was settled in 2002.
Later, while serving a senior vice-president at News Corp. in 2006, Levinsohn was a defendant in a (different) lawsuit. Filed by a video producer against the company and a number of Fox executives, the lawsuit alleged, among other things, that when she asked Levinsohn for a promotion, he suggested she look at a Fox Sports reporter — a former pinup model — to see how she “learned how to work her way to the top.” The suit also alleged sexual harassment was pervasive under Levinsohn and other executives’s leadership. The case was initially withdrawn, then refiled, and eventually settled.
Beyond the two lawsuits, NPR’s investigation also uncovered allegations of inappropriate behavior. Two women are quoted (one from sworn testimony) as saying Levinsohn created a “frat” atmosphere while they worked with him. Two witnesses also told NPR they saw Levinsohn “aggressively kissing and pressing himself against” a woman at an industry dinner in front of his employees (while he was married to a different woman). He also reportedly told a Hollywood Reporter executive he didn’t want to attend an event where he’d be surrounded by “ladies and fags.”
Levinsohn told NPR’s CEO Jarl Mohn that the allegations were “lies” and threatened to retain counsel if NPR disparaged him. Check out the full investigation here.