Discovery Compelled, in Part, in Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment Case

In Harris v. Charlie Rose Inc., No. 154172/2018, 2021 WL 1345374 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Apr. 05, 2021) – a lawsuit in which plaintiffs assert that defendant Charlie Rose subjected them to ongoing physical and sexual harassment including sexual touching, comments, and advances – the court granted, in part, plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery.

From the decision:

As to alleged romantic relationships with former employees, the court finds defendants propensity evidence arguments unavailing as the Court of Appeals has stated, that while as a general rule of evidence “it is improper to prove that a person did an act on a particular occasion by showing that he did a similar act on a different, unrelated occasion”, exceptions to this rule have been recognized “where the evidence offered has some relevancy to the issues presented other than mere similarity.” (In re Estate of Brandon, 55 NY2d 206, 20-211 [1982]). Such exceptions include where evidence of other similar acts will tend to establish motive, intent, the absence of mistake or accident, a common scheme or plan, or identity. (Id, citing People v Molineux, 168 NY 264, 293 [1901]; accord New York Proposed Code of Evidence, § 404, subd [b].)

Additionally, in an employment discrimination action, the court has the discretion to tailor an appropriate time frame during which the plaintiff may seek relevant information regarding her employment or the employment of others. (e.g. Abbott v Mem. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Ctr., 276 AD2d 432, 433 [1st Dept 2000]). Likewise, discovery sought with respect to complaints or complainants also asserting sexual harassment can be tailored to a time frame presumably calculated to reveal pertinent information. (see Pecile v Titan Capital Group, LLC, 119 AD3d 446 [1st Dept 2014] [wherein the First Department held that “(p)laintiffs’ request for production of documents relating to complaints of sexual harassment and/or retaliation, as well as, any complainants’ identities, for the period from January 1, 2005 to the present, was reasonably calculated to elicit relevant information”]; see also Abbott v Mem. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Ctr., 276 AD2d 432 [1st Dept 2000] [where the scope of defendant’s disclosure of discrimination complaints were limited to those based upon the type of discrimination alleged by plaintiff]. Insofar as the questions posed by plaintiffs would elicit testimony as to Rose’s intent/motive when he engaged in particular behavior towards plaintiffs, this court will permit limited questioning of Rose only with respect to former employees and/or co-workers who reported directly to him who complained of gender discrimination and/or sexual harassment by Rose for the period from April 2012 through November 2017. Whether or not Rose asserts that his conduct was consensual or within the confines of a romantic relationship is of no moment as Rose’s state of mind may differ from that of the alleged victims.

*3 Furthermore, plaintiffs’ motion to compel is also granted as to questions concerning what, if any, preparation Rose undertook, without the involvement or direction of his attorneys, prior to his deposition and Rose’s opinions, reactions, and general state of mind about the November 20, 2017 Washington Post article and his responsive statement on Twitter.

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