Mark Steines has filed a lawsuit against The Hallmark Channel’s owner, Crown Media, four months after he was removed as co-host of Home & Family.
The former Hallmark Channel and Entertainment Tonight host claims he was fired in May in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.
Steines, who hosted Home & Family for six years, claims that he “regularly warned and alerted” the network through his representatives that Woody Fraser, the 83-year-old executive producer of the show, “regularly bullied, verbally abused, and harassed cast and crew members.”
Steines says no action was taken after his representatives warned the network.
The 54-year-old broadcast journalist alleges that Fraser created a “vulgar, demeaning, and hostile work environment, especially for the women.”
He also claims Fraser would make sexually inappropriate comments about female guests in his earpiece while taping and forcibly hugged female coworkers.
Fraser denied the allegations, which had not been made public yet, in June 2017.
Steines’ complaint alleges that his exit came after he stood up in support of two of the show’s female staff members who had accused Fraser of sexual harassment. The complaint alleges that Steines’ support prompted the network to retaliate.
His complaint further claims his termination was “conducted in an utterly unprofessional manner intended to personally humiliate” him while “maximizing damage to his professional reputation.”
Steines is represented by lawyer Lisa Bloom, who also worked with the two women.
“Yesterday morning we filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mark Steines, who for more than five years was the co-host of The Hallmark Channel’s television show Home & Family,” Bloom told People in a statement.
She continued: “In that lawsuit, Mr. Steines alleges that in the summer of 2017, he stood up in support of two women who brought sexual harassment claims against the show’s then executive producer, Woody Fraser. He alleges that after he did, everything changed, with the network taking away his voiceover work, diminishing his role on the network, reducing his profile at industry events, cutting his salary by 25 per cent, and ultimately firing him months before the end of his contract.”
“The law protects witnesses and employees who oppose sexual harassment in their workplace, because we know that victims can rarely win their cases alone. We need male allies like Mark to speak up. Retaliation against those who do is illegal,” Bloom concluded.
Crown Media released a statement saying, “Mark Steines has filed a lawsuit against Crown Media regarding his separation from Home & Family earlier this year. The decision to replace Mark Steines was a measured, strategic and difficult decision for Crown Media to make, but was necessary given that the ratings for the show had declined. Further, the results of third party research indicated that Mr. Steines was perceived negatively. There is no merit to the legal claims Mr. Steines is asserting against Crown Media.”
The statement continued: “Crown Media is also surprised that Lisa Bloom is representing Mr. Steines in this matter since she has a consulting agreement with Crown Media. Crown Media is proud of Home & Family and the continued progress we have made in elevating the content and impact of our program. We are excited about the new creative direction for this new season and its potential.”
Steines is suing for retaliation and wrongful discharge.Follow @KatieScottNews
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