05:56 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Vice Media CEO and co-founder Shane Smith

    Vice Media: Company Rocked By Sexual Harassment Revelations

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    The media company has launched an internal probe into sexual harassment claims that resulted in a string of dismissals.

    According to an internal memo, Vice Media's top HR officer, Susan Tohyama, said that the company investigated a "handful of workplace complaints [that] have been brought to [her] attention," and "took disciplinary action, including terminating three employees."

    "The conduct of these employees ranged from verbal and sexual harassment to other behavior that is inconsistent with our policies, our values, and the way in which we believe colleagues should work together," the statement read.

    READ MORE: CNN Producer Fired Over Reported 'Inappropriate Behavior'

    The top HR officer also refused to provide any further details on the incidents, including the names and positions of the abusers, arguing that secrecy is necessary to ensure that those who come forward with complaints cannot be identified.

    "I know a few people have asked for specifics concerning both the complaints and the discipline we have taken," Tohyama said.

    "I believe the confidentiality of the process is necessary to protect all those who wish to bring allegations to me and to create a fair, safe and inclusive environment for all employees."

    Tohyama was specifically brought in four weeks ago to investigate a report released by the Daily Beast and an upcoming investigation by The New York Times, which suggest that the work environment in Vice has been suffering from a culture of rampant sexual harassment.

    In its lengthy investigation, the Daily Beast detailed a number of cases of "toxic, unsafe and just plain dirty" behavior by senior Vice employees.

    Phoebe Barghouty, a former Vice employee, alleged to have suffered from inappropriate behavior from her boss Kaj Larsen, which included unwanted touching and lewd comments.

    Barghouty said that her case is not isolated, claiming the company fosters a culture of sexual predation.

    "The culture [at Vice] was that if you sleep with your boss, or with your producer, you'll get more opportunities. That was real," she told the Daily Beast.

    "Women who were intimate with their superiors did better than women who weren't. It created a toxic environment, where men could be abusive, and some women were manipulated into thinking that acquiescing to that abuse was the only way to advance."

    READ MORE: Charlie Rose Dumped by CBS and PBS Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

    Natasha Lennard, another former Vice employee, also came forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexism, leading to the suspension of the company's lead filmmaker and former Editor-in-Chief Jason Mojica, who allegedly ignored claims of sexual assault and made lewd comments to female colleagues.

    In her statement, Tohyama conceded that Vice's "workplace culture has fallen short," but urged to "turn the page and start a new chapter".

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    Tags:
    culture, sexism, harassment, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Vice News, United States
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