NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell’s sudden departure followed an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint made against him by a longtime CNBC correspondent, the woman’s attorney said.
The 41-year-old journalist, Hadley Gamble, has been a Middle East correspondent and anchor for the NBCUniversal-owned financial news network for nearly a decade.
It was unclear Monday when she filed the sexual harassment complaint, although a person close to the situation said the claim was filed several weeks ago, prompting parent company Comcast Corp. to hire an outside law firm to investigate.
The investigation wrapped up over the weekend.
Gamble’s London-based attorney confirmed the nature of Gamble’s complaint in a statement Monday.
“The investigation into Mr. Shell arose from a complaint by my client of sexual harassment and sex discrimination,” lawyer Suzanne McKie said.
Shell’s media representative was not immediately available for comment.
Comcast’s Sunday announcement of Shell’s ouster did not identify the woman involved in the matter. Gamble’s name began circulating as insiders tried to piece together the latest instance of misconduct to topple a Hollywood executive.
“Given these circumstances, it is very disappointing that my client’s name has been released and her privacy violated,” McKie said.
Comcast did not immediately comment Monday.
On Sunday, the company said Shell had stepped down after three years in the top role due to “an inappropriate relationship,” making him the latest high-powered entertainment industry player to lose his job over misbehavior toward women.
Comcast said in the statement that the company and Shell had “mutually agreed” that he would depart effective immediately.
“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal,” Shell said Sunday in a statement that acknowledged “an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company,” but did not further specify the nature of the problematic relationship.
“I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege,” Shell said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported McKie’s confirmation of the sexual harassment report.
Comcast does not plan to immediately start a search for Shell’s successor. Instead, Comcast President Mike Cavanagh will take over Shell’s senior executive team and lead the entertainment company in the interim, Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts and Cavanagh said in a note to employees.
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