Two female writers quit CBS sitcom Carol's Second Act after allegations were leveled against executive producer David Hunt.
Hunt is married to the show's leading lady, Patricia Heaton.
Per The New York Times, Broti Gupta alleged that Hunt touched her on two occasions, with the first happening at a cast and crew dinner in August.
During that incident, Gupta alleged that Hunt hugged her from the side, before complimenting her pants and running his hand up the side of her thigh.
The writer told her boyfriend, Greg Gallant, about the incident that night, and he confirmed the conversation to the outlet.
Weeks after the alleged incident, Gupta was working while sitting next to the show's co executive-producer Margee Magee.
Hunt was said to be looking for something when he approached Gupta and took her by the shoulders and jerked her forward.
Magee allegedly got up from her seat and said, "Excuse me," to Hunt, but he did not respond.
Hunt's lawyer, Bryan Freedman, released a statement to the Times and claimed that his client “does not recall rubbing anyone’s thigh or leg and he disputes that characterization of it.”
Hunt also “does not remember the detail of touching anyone’s shoulders, and if he did that, it was not intended to be offensive,” Freedman said.
According to the Times, Gupta turned to Magee following the on-set occurrence. Magee and Gupta discussed the matter with showrunners Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern, who went on to report the allegations to CBS Television Studios.
Gupta said that she did not want Hunt booted from the show, but she did want him to be educated on harassment.
Things took a turn just a week later when both Gupta and Magee learned they were no longer allowed to attend rehearsals for the series because it was "too chaotic."
On top of that, they were no longer allowed to run revised jokes by Haskins and Halpern on the nights the series was taped.
Both women believed that this was a ploy to keep them away from Hunt, but the showrunners insisted through their attorney that those changes were already a thing prior to the initial complaint.
Magee felt that the changes were made to keep Gupta away from Hunt, leading to Gupta quitting the series.
“To be clear, we have never done and would never do anything to penalize or retaliate against anyone who raised these concerns,” Haskins and Halpern said in a statement.
“We are devastated that many of the inflammatory claims that have been made about us are simply not tethered to the reality of what happened.”
Magee then went to HR about what went down, but it resulted in her losing most of her responsibilities, and she subsequently quit.
CBS says that there was “no evidence” that Haskins or Halpern had “retaliatory intent” towards the two writers.
Here is the official statement from CBS Television Studios:
A claim of unprofessional behavior was made by a writer regarding one of the show’s executive producers.
The complaint was reported by a producer to the showrunners, who immediately alerted the production company and the Studio.
The matter was promptly investigated by human resources, and appropriate action was taken to address the complaint.
The executive producer cooperated fully with the process. In addition, we looked into allegations of retaliatory conduct by the showrunners at the time they were raised, and we found no evidence of retaliatory intent in their interactions with the writer or the producer.
In particular, their decisions about the writers’ procedure during rehearsals and tapings were creatively motivated to streamline their production process and were already being discussed prior to the complaint.
Further, our human resources team always endeavors to address issues in a professional and sensitive manner, and we must clarify that certain allegations about them have either been misstated or taken wholly out of context.
The writer and producer decided to leave the show of their own accord. CBS agreed to their request to be paid for the remainder of their guaranteed episodes this season, and we supported their request to waive any contractual provisions that would prevent them from speaking about their experiences on the show.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.