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NBC’s Golf Channel is accused of hostile workplace, sexism, misogyny and harassment

Sixteen women who previously worked at the Golf Channel and two more current female employees are echoing claims of sexism, misogyny and harassment against the NBC-owned network.

Former on-air anchor Lisa Cornwell first made the accusation to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2020, but spoke out more publicly in a January podcast interview in which she said she was just one of ‘dozens and dozens’ of women with similar experiences at Golf Channel.

‘What I went through… is nothing compared to what dozens and dozens of women at that network have faced over the years,’ she told the golf podcast, No Laying Up, on January 4.

Now the Washington Post is reporting new allegations, including the claim of one woman who says she was sexually harassed in emails from her boss at Golf Channel when she was a 22-year-old freelance production assistant.

‘I’d like to make love to you and I dream about you every morning,’ the supervisor wrote her, according to the Washington Post. ‘Do you feel any connection to me in that way. If not, no big deal. We’ll have the same work relationship we’ve had. The last thing I want to do is creep you out.’ 

Former on-air anchor Lisa Cornwell (pictured) first made the accusation to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2020, but spoke out more publicly in a January podcast interview in which she said she was just one of ‘dozens and dozens’ of women with similar experiences at Golf Channel

NBC spokesman Greg Hughes said the supervisor was suspended and later fired.

However, in an email to Human Resources, the alleged victim said she did not feel supported by the network.

‘I want to have faith that Golf Channel is supporting me, the victim, on this issue, but that is not how I have been made to feel at the moment,’ she wrote in an email reviewed by the Washington Post. ‘I felt more like I was the one on trial.’

In response to the Post’s report, Hughes told the newspaper that ‘the vast majority’ of the allegations had already been probed, adding that ‘appropriate action was taken.’

Hughes also said the network would be ‘vigorously defending this matter.’

Other claims include lewd conversations, such as a 2019 discussion in which male employees likened Asian LPGA golfers to Japanese sex dolls.

Jen Johnson, a former employee, said she earned less than her male counterparts and was once asked by a supervisor if having a child would negatively impact her career.

Hughes said the supervisor was disciplined, but that Johnson never raised any concerns about pay discrepancy.

The Golf Channel mobile studio during the 2nd round of the Champions TOUR Mitsubishi Electric Classic golf tournament on April 20, 2019 at the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia

The Golf Channel mobile studio during the 2nd round of the Champions TOUR Mitsubishi Electric Classic golf tournament on April 20, 2019 at the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia

Chelsea Kite, who spent 12 years at the network, said she asked technical manager John Winch about her job performance, but he refused to give an honest answer.

‘Women and people of color rule the world,’ she said he told her. ‘We live in an HR world.’

Kite added: ‘Because of the way the world was changing, he was afraid to talk to women and black people at work.’

Speaking to the Post, Winch admitted he regretted the way he responded, saying that he felt she was looking for a reason to report him to HR after they had several previous disagreements.

He was later fired after Kite reported the incident to human resources.

However, Kite was also fired for what Hughes claims were problems with her job performance.

‘I feel like they were punishing me for speaking up,’ Kite said. ‘I’m teaching broadcasting in high school right now. It took me a long time to mentally be okay with that.’

Haley Zagoria, a Golf Channel employee in the marketing department in 2016 and 2017, said she was passed over for a promotion and was later told by senior director Mark Summer that she wasn’t chosen because it was a ‘masculine environment.’

Hughes told the Post that Summer was not the final say on that decision.

‘It was my first job,’ Zagoria told the Post. ‘I used to cry on my way home from work all the time. I couldn’t do it anymore. It was just so toxic and there was no growth opportunity for me.’

Haley Zagoria (pictured), a Golf Channel employee in the marketing department in 2016 and 2017, said she was passed over for a job and was later told by senior director Mark Summer that she wasn't chosen because it was a 'masculine environment'

Haley Zagoria (pictured), a Golf Channel employee in the marketing department in 2016 and 2017, said she was passed over for a job and was later told by senior director Mark Summer that she wasn’t chosen because it was a ‘masculine environment’

Former Golf Channel director of product and technology Laura Laytham said she spoke to the vice president of human resources about male colleagues being dismissive of her work and input, but nobody intervened.

‘It was just a boys club,’ Laytham said.

Cornwell said she experienced friction with on-air host and former professional golfer Brandel Chamblee (pictured), although she did not accuse him of any sexual harassment

Cornwell said she experienced friction with on-air host and former professional golfer Brandel Chamblee (pictured), although she did not accuse him of any sexual harassment 

Cornwell also claims that Summer, speaking to employees, ridiculed an on-air anchor for battling anxiety issues in 2016.

‘The person leading that dinner, and there’s 15 people there, he’s the head of Golf Central,’ she told the No Laying Up podcast on January 4. ‘We have a new analyst who’s had some anxiety issues on air, and he’s basically making fun of him. I stood up, he’s a friend of mine, I said “What are we doing? We don’t do this. This isn’t who we are.”‘

In 2018, she says that she and anchor Brandel Chamblee began to have friction following an on-air mistake that she admittedly made.

It was then, she claims, that the network began reducing her assignments without any explanation.

Cornwell says she was taken off the network’s coverage of the next year’s NCAA Championships, which were set to be held at the University of Arkansas, where she had played collegiately.

‘I had always hosted the women’s NCAAs since I had been at Golf Channel,’ she said. ‘I get a scheduling email that I would not be the host that year at Arkansas, that I had been demoted to a reporter, and they didn’t even have the guts to tell me.’

Lisa Cornwell of Golf Channel chats with LPGA commissioner Michael Whan as John Veihmeyer, Global Chairman of KPMG International and Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America Pete Bevacqua look on after the Sahalee Country Club was chosen as the 2016 venue for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at the start of the third round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship on the West Course at the Westchester Country Club on June 13, 2015 in Harrison, New York. Whan, Veihmeyer and Bevacqua were not the subject of any sexual harassment allegations made by Cornwell or other Golf Channel employees

Lisa Cornwell of Golf Channel chats with LPGA commissioner Michael Whan as John Veihmeyer, Global Chairman of KPMG International and Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America Pete Bevacqua look on after the Sahalee Country Club was chosen as the 2016 venue for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the start of the third round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on the West Course at the Westchester Country Club on June 13, 2015 in Harrison, New York. Whan, Veihmeyer and Bevacqua were not the subject of any sexual harassment allegations made by Cornwell or other Golf Channel employees 

Things only got worse in March, when she filed her complaint with the EEOC.

It was around that time she angered management by reporting that an LPGA player had to personally purchase clubs for an event because the sponsor failed to fulfill her request, ostensibly dismissing the player because she wasn’t on the men’s tour.

Golf channel vice president and executive editor Geoff Russell reportedly called Cornwell because he was upset that she neglected to confirm the story with the club manufacturer, Mizuno.

Cornwell, however, said she had seen numerous other similar incidents.

Golf Channel called her home from that LPGA tournament and issued a correction, which Cornwell and others have said is misleading.

‘A man, in his 60s, who was my boss, screaming and cussing me out and sending me home over a gender-related issue from a women’s golf tournament during the middle of a retaliation, gender-discrimination, EEOC case,’ Cornwell said on the podcast in January. ‘I don’t know what organization allows that to happen but Golf Channel didn’t do anything about it.’

Hughes did not comment on the EEOC allegations to the Post because the case is still pending.

Irish golfer Rory McIlroy (center left) is pictured during a Golf Channel appearance in 2019

Irish golfer Rory McIlroy (center left) is pictured during a Golf Channel appearance in 2019


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