Ex-NY Post editor sues News Corp, says she was fired after reporting sexual harassment

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The New York Post printing plant is seen in the Bronx borough of New York, November 17, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East

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  • Paper's former editor-in-chief of digital claims she was undermined after reporting harassment from her boss
  • Suit says paper rehired the alleged harasser after he left over the complaints

(Reuters) - A former editor-in-chief of the New York Post's digital platform sued parent company News Corp on Tuesday, claiming she was fired after complaining that the newspaper’s former editor-in-chief sexually propositioned her.

Michelle Gotthelf alleges she was fired after a years-long campaign to undermine her authority that began when she complained about a 2015 incident with New York Post former editor-in-chief Col Allan.

Gotthelf's lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court alleges that she worked at the New York tabloid until Jan. 12, when the current editor-in-chief of the New York Post Group, Keith Poole, terminated her.

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Allan could not be reached for comment.

A New York Post and News Corp spokesperson said in a statement that “any suggestion of wrongdoing" related to the recent management changes was "meritless."

The lawsuit, which also names Allan, Poole and NYP Holdings Inc as defendants, alleges Gotthelf attended a dinner meeting in the fall of 2015 with the paper’s top editors where she said Allan asked her sexually charged questions and said "we should sleep together."

Gotthelf, who had worked at the publication since 2000, said she left the event and later mentioned what happened to some colleagues but did not report the incident to human resources. Allan’s treatment of her turned increasingly hostile, the lawsuit alleges, and Gotthelf later complained to human resources about his behavior. In 2016 Allan retired from his role at the paper – a move Gotthelf asserts was a result of her complaints.

The lawsuit says that in 2019 Allan was rehired as a consultant at the New York Post and that although Gotthelf negotiated as part of her contract to not report to Allan, he was soon supervising her work.

In January 2021 the paper hired News Corp veteran Keith Poole to take over as editor-in-chief of the New York Post Group, making him Gotthelf’s boss, the lawsuit alleges. A News Corp press release that month announcing Poole's new position said that Allan was retiring in March 2021 as a senior advisor.

Gotthelf's lawsuit says that Poole had questioned Gotthelf in November 2021 about what happened with Allan and terminated her on Jan. 12 of this year.

An internal memo that News Corp representatives told Reuters was sent on Tuesday from the office of Keith Poole to News Corp employees announced Gotthelf's departure effective Jan. 15. "I hope you will join me in wishing her the best for the future," it said.

Gotthelf’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor of Wigdor, said in a statement that Allan’s rehiring at the paper after Gotthelf came forward with her experience “speaks volumes about exactly the type of newsroom News Corp is running."

The case is Gotthelf v. News Corp, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:22-cv-00421

For Gotthelf: Douglas Wigdor and Valdi Licul of Wigdor

For News Corp, Poole and Allan: Not available

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