Dateline: Producer Used as “Sexual Bait”

A New York woman filed suit against Dateline NBC for allegedly using her as “sexual bait.”

A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Kimberly Lengle was hired by the television news magazine Dateline in 2012. Though employed as a producer, Ms. Lengle found the responsibilities of her position had more to do with her gender than her reporting ability.

In May of this year, Ms. Lengle filed suit against Dateline and her former supervisor, Dan Slepian, for alleged actions that include:

  • Ms. Lengle was repeatedly assigned to stories requiring her to engage in sexual role play. As a producer on the series entitled “Wild Wild Web,” Ms. Lengle was asked to place and respond to sex ads. Ms. Lengle stated she was “abused,” “ridiculed” and “threatened” when she voiced concern over the work.
  • In her lawsuit, Ms. Lengle alleges her supervisor, Mr. Slepian, criticized her for not dressing in a promiscuous manner and for failing to provide nude photographs of herself to use in responding to sex ads. Ms. Lengle reports Mr. Slepian threatened to fire her when she refused to provide a photograph of herself in response to a Craigslist ad looking for a “human punching bag.”
  • Ms. Lengle engaged in secretly filmed meetings for sexually-themed episodes of Dateline that never aired. Ms. Lengle was assigned to work in a Las Vegas brothel and track down an Internet Lothario named at NBC as the “Sperminator.”
  • Involvement in sexually-charged reporting was not a requirement of male counterparts of Ms. Lengle at NBC.

When she approached NBC management, Ms. Lengle was told she did not need to perform work she found uncomfortable. She eventually resigned when human resources at NBC refused to intervene. NBC has since stated the claims of Ms. Lengle are without merit. The outcome of this frightening episode remains to be seen.

If you are subject to sexual harassment at your workplace, contact an experienced labor attorney in New York.

 

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