Ross Levinsohn, CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, has been followed for two decades by allegations of sexual harassment and fostering sexually inappropriate work cultures, NPR reported Thursday.
The report, based on dozens of interviews with former colleagues and court records from sexual harassment suits, details a pattern of Levinsohn objectifying women he worked with and allowing male co-workers to do the same. In one case, he admitted to rating the “hotness” of an employee when vice president of a media company. He also said he speculated about whether another female colleague was a stripper.
Levinsohn was known for hosting ritzy dinners at his homes for co-workers and employees. At one such dinner, eyewitnesses saw him aggressively kissing a subordinate in plain view of the other partygoers. At a lunch for the publication The Hollywood Reporter, Levinsohn once referred to the male guests with a derogatory word for gay men.
Levinsohn did not respond to detailed questions from NPR. He called NPR’s CEO in an attempt to stop the story, telling him the claims were all “lies.”
The LA Times is owned by the media conglomerate Tronc. A crisis management specialist responded to NPR’s questions for Tronc on the company’s behalf.
“This week, we became aware of allegations that Ross Levinsohn acted inappropriately,” Charles Slipkins said. “We are immediately launching an investigation so that we have a better understanding of what’s occurred.”
Tronc has not suspended Levinsohn. A group of LA Times employees that are attempting to establish a union at the paper called for Levinsohn to be fired.