Hallmark's Home & Family is usually a source of feel-good footage to start the day right, but former host Mark Steines claims that he was wrongfully terminated by the network for a not-so-good reason. Steines alleges that he lost his job at Home & Family after speaking up and supporting women who made harassment claims about the executive producer of the series. Here's what's happening.
Mark Steines was on board Home & Family's latest incarnation from the time it premiered in 2012 all the way until May 2018, when he was fired with three months still remaining on his contract. According to Mark Steines' lawsuit (via Variety), Hallmark fired him because he was vocal in his complaints about Home & Family's 83-year-old executive producer Woody Fraser. The suit alleges that Fraser had a habit of misogynistic behavior on set of Home & Family, including harassment, abuse, and even in at least one instance, a female employee being forcibly kissed and photographed. Fraser is also accused of hugging and massaging the women at Home & Family without their permission.
Although Mark Steines does not claim that he was harassed by Woody Fraser in any of these ways, he does state that Fraser would make sexual comments about the attractiveness of female guests and what he would like to do with them, all in Steines' earpiece during interviews in front of the camera. Steines states that he would pass staff complaints on to management in the hopes that something would be done about Fraser's behavior, but nothing ever came of the complaints.
Then, back in spring 2017, attorney Lisa Bloom was hired by two employees to raise a sexual harassment case on their behalf. The lawsuit from Mark Steines alleges that his salary was cut by 25% for Season 6 of Home & Family before being sacked in May because of his cooperation with Bloom and his willingness to service as a witness in the two employees' case. According to Steines, Hallmark exec Michelle Vicary told Steines that she was mad about his behavior, and his salary cut followed months later. In the lawsuit, Mark Steines is suing for wrongful termination and retaliation.
For his part, Woody Fraser denied the allegations before they were even announced the the general public, claiming that the women who had hired Lisa Bloom were asking for a large sum of money or else the allegations would be made public. Claiming that he did "not possess the financial resources demanded by Ms. Bloom to prevent a media circus," Fraser got ahead of the situation with a denial. It's worth noting that Fraser was a mentor to Roger Ailes many years ago, and Ailes famously resigned from Fox News after harassment claims agains him.
Only time will tell whether or not Mark Steines lawsuit against Hallmark yields what he's looking for. This is hardly the first time in the past year that a TV network was rocked by allegations against a notable figure for harassment, and we'll have to wait and see how Hallmark handles the situation. In the meantime, you can find plenty of shows to pass the days now that fall TV premiere season is upon us.