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Actress gets $9.5 in sexual harassment settlement with CBS

CBS's troubles with alleged bad behavior by powerful men at the network seem to continue. Earlier this year, its chief executive, Les Moonves, was ousted amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Now it's come to light that the network paid $9.5 million to an actress who accused an actor who's been a longtime fixture on the network of inappropriate behavior. The case was settled via mediation and a confidential agreement. However, it became public amid a larger investigation into Moonves' alleged activities and the culture at the network, which has lost other powerful men accused of misconduct, including newsman Charlie Rose.

Actress Eliza Dushku was working as a guest star on the CBS series Bull, with the understanding that she would become a series regular, when the star, Michael Weatherly, allegedly began making sexually suggestive comments to her in front of others on the set -- including a joke about rape.

Dushku said that shortly after she talked to the show's producer and to Weatherly directly about his comments, she was written out of the show. She accused the star and the producer of retaliation. That producer told investigators she was fired because he "didn't know how to write" her character into the series any longer.

Weatherly, who spent years on NCIS, said publicly that he meant his comments jokingly and was "mortified" when he learned he'd offended his co-star. He added, "I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate." He denies any recollection of calling for her firing. However, he reportedly texted an executive with CBS that he wanted to have a talk about the actress's sense of humor.

Interestingly, outtakes that the network's attorneys hoped would strengthen their case captured some of the harassing behavior Dushku had complained about. The network confirmed the settlement, saying that it "reflects the projected amount that Ms. Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular."

Even though it may seem like the same rules that govern more traditional workplaces might be more relaxed on studio lots and location sets, sexual harassment can and does occur in any virtually any work environment -- and it's illegal. So is firing employees for complaining. If you believe you've been the victim of harassment and/or retaliation, it may be wise to seek legal guidance.

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