G/O Media faces two lawsuits from former execs, alleging discrimination

Posted Friday, 08 November 2019 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)Two former executives are suing G/O Media, the parent company of sites including Gizmodo, Deadspin and The Onion, alleging discrimination and negligence. Both lawsuits detail discrimination personally faced or witnessed by the plaintiffs from Jim Spanfeller, who became CEO of G/O Media in April after private equity firm Great Hill acquired Gizmodo Media Group. Michael McAvoy, who was fired as president and CEO of The Onion in July, is suing G/O Media and Spanfeller for breach of employment agreement and violation of the Wage Act. He filed the lawsuit on November 1 in Chicago.In a separate lawsuit, Nadine Jarrard, former vice president of West Coast sales at G/O Media, sued G/O Media and Great Hill. Jarrard alleges violation of the Equal Pay Act, gender discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She also alleges negligent hiring against Great Hill. Her lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles. Vice's Motherboard first reported the lawsuits. Jarrard alleges she was pushed out of her job after Spanfeller hired one of his former colleagues in her same position. Deadspin, the sports site owned by G/O Media, previously reported this change in leadership and other employees' frustrations with Spanfeller over new hires. The lawsuit alleges Spanfeller's discriminatory behavior was evident shortly after he joined and in public settings. The lawsuit cites a town hall meeting on April 15, shortly after Great Hill's acquisition, led by Spanfeller. "It was immediately evident that the 'new regime' was white men, cronies from Spanfeller's past. On the stage, there was an absence of women or people of color standing with or part of the Executive team," the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit also alleges that during the town hall, when asked about his plan for creating a diverse workforce, Spanfeller said, "I don't know." He later added, "Haven't thought about it, but I hear you guys. Obviously, diversity is important, I get it." A former G/O Media employee present at that meeting confirmed that account to CNN Business. They added that when Spanfeller sent out a drafted list of values for G/O Media on April 8 he did not include diversity. McAvoy alleges he was wrongfully terminated, in part as retaliation for him "raising legitimate concerns about Spanfeller's treatment of female executives and Spanfeller's hiring of his friends and former colleagues." The lawsuit alleges G/O Media did not cite "any specific facts" for just cause for McAvoy's termination. A G/O Media spokesperson said the lawsuits are "baseless." "We look forward to responding to the claims in court where the facts will show that the company's actions were entirely appropriate," the G/O Media spokesperson told CNN Business. "The company has and continues to support women at all levels of seniority. Of G/O Media's new hires since July, 60% have been women, many in senior roles."Regarding McAvoy's lawsuit, the G/O spokesperson said the company plans to file a "counterclaim and affirmative defenses that will illuminate the very substantial reasons justifying his termination for cause." McAvoy declined to comment. Great Hill and Jarrard did not immediately respond to requests for comment. GMG Union, which represents the editorial staff of G/O Media, tweeted Friday, "We, the GMG Union, are unsurprised to learn of allegations in two lawsuits that our CEO, Jim Spanfeller, created a hostile environment for women at G/O Media. As employees of this company, we have seen and been subjected to his erratic, inappropriate management style since the very beginning." These lawsuits come amid a tumultuous time at G/O Media. G/O Media's editorial director Paul Maidment resigned this week after Deadspin's entire editorial staff quit in response to Maidment's "stick to sports" mandate and the firing of Deadspin's interim editor-in-chief Barry Petchesky.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating Rudy Giuliani are seeking to interview people with knowledge of Ukraine's state-run oil-and-gas company, Naftogaz, according to two people familiar with the matter, suggesting investigators have...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for backing protesters in Iran on Sunday, describing a tweet from Washington's top diplomat as "hypocritical." Pompeo said that the US supported the...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN Business)SoftBank founder Masaoyshi Son is trying to orchestrate a $30 billion merger of two Japanese internet companies to build a tech business that can survive in the "winner-takes-all" world of Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB)Softbank ...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)As impeachment hearings play out on Capitol Hill, Iowans on both sides of the political spectrum see the inquiry as a boost to their party's chances of winning the general election next November, according to a new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

Paris (CNN)One person was killed and several were injured after a bridge collapsed in southwest France on Monday, according to the Haut-Garonne fire brigade.A 15-year-old girl died after the bridge leading to the small town of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn collapsed ...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)China's Defense Minister told his US counterpart that Washington must stop "flexing its muscles" in the South China Sea when the two met Monday, according to a spokesman for Beijing.At the same time, China announced that its new domestically...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)As he waited for his murder trial to begin, Patrick Frazee sent letters to a man he met in jail asking him to kill some of the witnesses, the former inmate testified. Frazee is charged with murdering Kelsey Berreth, the mother of his toddler...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A man accidentally shot his brother while they were deer hunting in Michigan Saturday.The two men were hunting in Boston Township, about 130 miles northwest of Detroit, when they were looking for a deer that one brother had shot earlier, a release...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)PG&E is warning customers that they may have to shut off power in 19 counties due to a strong offshore wind this week.About 250,000 California residents could be impacted by a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) this week as winds pick up...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)Twenty-eight people are in quarantine in China's northern Inner Mongolia province after a hunter was diagnosed with bubonic plague Saturday, the local health commission said.According to state-run news agency Xinhua, the unidentified...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)At least ten people were shot, three of them fatally, at a football watch party in Fresno, California, Sunday night.The victims were attending a family and friends gathering in the backyard of a home when an unknown suspect approached and opened...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)A small number of protesters are trapped inside a Hong Kong university campus that was the site of a prolonged battle with police into the early hours of Monday morning, after many fled even as the authorities continued to close in. The...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.This weekend had me thinking about how our political language...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump has backed away from a proposal to ban flavored e-cigarettes, according to a report from The New York Times. Advisers say that Trump decided to retreat from the plan after being warned that there could be backlash from voters, ...

Posted Monday, 18 November 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump's impeachment angst led him to fire off a new attack on a key witness and threatens to deepen in the frenetic week ahead with crucial testimony scheduled from officials caught in the middle of the Ukraine storm.But as is...