SONOMA, Calif. (CN) – The New York Times and Press Democrat newspapers have been sued by two award-winning female editors who were allegedly lured away from other papers and then harassed by male editors who spread rumors about them.
According to the lawsuit, Bruce Kyse, the Democrat’s publisher, convinced plaintiff Leigh Behrens to leave the Chicago Tribune, where she was features editor, by promising long-term employment as the online director. Co-plaintiff Laurie Barton says she was similarly lured from lucrative employment with the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register.
After Behrens was lauded for her direction of the online department, she claims male senior editors from the print department publicly demeaned her and Barton, harassed them, tried to intimidate them and spread rumors that Behrens’ success was due to her having an affair with Kyse.
According to the claim, complaints to the human resources department went nowhere, as the men continued their “character assassination” and verbal and physical attempts at intimidation. Democrat human resources employee Kathy Grant appeared to be confused that the two women wanted something done, since the harassment was not of a sexual nature.
Barton had passed up other jobs, and Behrens passed up promotions with significant pay increases to work for the Democrat. The complaint was filed in Sonoma County Court March 30. Additional defendants are New York Times Regional Media Group, NYT Management Services, George Milliner, Robert Swofford, Doug Wilks, Jeff Moriarty, David Foster, James Barger and Kathy Grant. The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Foster of Oakland.