Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC Signature has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit from the California Civil Rights Department that alleged sexual harassment and retaliation on the set of the CBS police drama “Criminal Minds,” one of TV’s longest-running series.
The department’s lawsuit, filed in May 2020, alleged that over 14 years, Gregory St. Johns, director of photography for the series, “used his position of power to create an unchecked hostile work environment in which he subjected production crew members to frequent sexual harassment, including touching and caressing numerous employees.”
The CRD, in a statement issued last week, said that ABC Signature would also revise and distribute policies to all shows produced by the unit and take other steps to ensure there are no unaddressed complaints of harassment and retaliation on set. Additionally, the company will report on compliance annually to the department.
“Crew members courageously came forward to assert their right to make a living free from sexual harassment,” CRD Director Kevin Kish said in a statement. “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.”
A representative for ABC Signature declined to comment.
The suit named Walt Disney Co., ABC Signature Studios Inc., CBS Studios Inc., St. Johns and members of the executive production team of the television series as defendants.
According to the suit, St. Johns “doted on certain men and treated them more favorably, provided they acquiesced to his attention. To those who resisted, he retaliated in common patterns, including the silent treatment, social ostracism, unfair criticism, public shaming and ultimately termination.”
The lawsuit also claimed that the executive production team had knowledge of and condoned St. Johns’ alleged conduct, “firing over a dozen men who resisted St. John’s harassment,” according to a statement from the state agency.