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Former Axel Springer Employee Suing for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

A former employee is suing the media company based on the conduct of its former editor, Julian Reichelt. Reichelt worked for Axel Springer's Bild, a German tabloid newspaper. The female employee (Doe) alleges sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in violation of California's anti-discrimination statute. Doe claims Reichelt groomed her for sex after she began a training program at the company. He allegedly transferred her to a position in Berlin and frequently summoned her for sex at hotels near work. She claims other employees made her work environment difficult because they suspected her affair with Reichelt. Doe says she continued to work for the company in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the company did not address her complaints about Reichelt. She claims she continued to face harassment while working in the U.S. Reportedly, one senior Axel Spring executive told Doe about the executive's affair with Reichelt and said, "That's just how it is at Axel Springer. You have to accept that."

Last year, the New York Times published an investigation into Reichelt's behavior. Axel Springer told the Times that it had investigated the allegations and cleared Reichelt. However, later in the year, Axel Springer fired Reichelt, asserting it had learned new information and Reichelt had misled the company's board. Reichelt has denied the lawsuit's allegations. Axel Springer has told the press it is investigating the lawsuit and will comment when appropriate.