BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Globe said Monday it is dropping its lawsuit against a former employee who claimed that the newspaper’s top editor sent her an inappropriate text message.
Last month, former Boston.com editor Hilary Sargent tweeted a screenshot of a text message exchange. She says it was Globe Editor Brian McGrory who texted her “What do you generally wear when you write?”
In taking Sargent to court, The Globe said she signed a separation agreement when she left the company, which obligates her to cooperate with any investigations relating to her employment.
But in a statement sent to WBZ-TV on Monday, The Globe said it “believes that legal action is no longer necessary.” It went on to say “Ms. Sargent has finally provided the information the Globe had requested from the start” – whether the text messages were sent while Sargent was a Globe employee.
“Crucially, Ms. Sargent has now admitted that she does “not recall” when the messages were sent and it is “more likely” that they were sent after she worked at the Globe,” the company stated.
Sargent issued a statement on The Globe’s decision to drop the lawsuit, criticizing the company’s choice to take her to court in the first place.
“No media institution that expects to be taken seriously on the issue of sexual harassment should ignore concerns of one of its former employees, nor should they resort to litigation as a first option,” Sargent said. “I look forward to speaking openly without the threat of litigation, and in a manner that takes into account the sensitivity of the subject matter.”
The Globe’s full statement is below:
After learning facts disclosed for the first time by Hilary Sargent, a former boston.com employee, in court, the Boston Globe believes that legal action is no longer necessary. The action’s purpose was to ascertain the truth about a serious allegation Ms. Sargent publicly leveled on social media regarding an inappropriate text exchange between her and Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory. In her tweet, she implied that it was sent while she was an employee at boston.com, although there was no date visible.
Faced with Ms. Sargent’s refusal to provide the date of the exchange, the Globe brought legal action to expeditiously learn all relevant information from Ms. Sargent. That legal action succeeded in achieving its purpose: Ms. Sargent has finally provided the information the Globe has requested from the start. Crucially, Ms. Sargent has now admitted that she does “not recall” when the messages were sent and it is “more likely” that they were sent after she worked at the Globe.
Our responsibility has been to conduct the most thorough investigation we can and take every reasonable step before making any determinations. The court yesterday noted that employers sometimes must conduct investigations, as the Globe has done here, without complete information from the complainant, and draw conclusions based on the available information which we concede, though not ideal, is an option.
The Globe remains hopeful for its outside investigator to interview Ms. Sargent to hear directly from her concerning Mr. McGrory and to review all pertinent information. We are now confident that because we have taken all steps reasonably available to us, including this legal action, we have learned significant new information. And as a result will assist the Globe in reaching sound conclusions about Ms. Sargent’s allegations.