A producer for TV talk show host Maury Povich filed a $100 million sex harassment lawsuit against him and other members of his staff Monday, claiming they barraged her with sexual remarks and made her watch porno movies and expose her body.
Bianca Nardi, 28, of Fort Lee, N.J., says in court papers that the sexually charged atmosphere among the show's production staff was fostered by the "intimate and sexual relationship between defendants Maurice Richard Povich and Donna Benner Ingber."
Court papers also say Nardi had an unfairly heavy workload because she did tasks that were supposed to be done by Ingber, who often refused to do her own work — without penalty — because of her relationship with Povich.
Povich is married to the veteran television news anchor Connie Chung.
Gary Rosen, spokesman for the show, flatly denied the allegations, as did a spokeswoman for NBC Universal.
(MSNBC is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)
"We are aware of the allegations of harassment made by Ms. Nardi. We have done a complete and thorough investigation of her allegations of harassment and we are satisfied that there is no merit to them," Rosen said. "We stand behind our experienced and dedicated staff, fully."
"We do not believe that Ms. Nardi was a victim of unlawful sexual harassment and intend to defend this lawsuit vigorously," NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said.
The suit contains a list of sordid allegations.
Ingber, who is also named as a defendant, "many times in an intoxicated condition, telephoned (Nardi's) residence at all hours of the late evening to discuss her personal relations with defendant Povich (and other men whom she was secretly seeing)" and to ask Nardi what staffers were saying about the relationship, court papers say.
Nardi says she went to work for show in June 2000 and was promoted twice. She worked there until this month, when she took a temporary medical leave, said her lawyer Bruce Baron.
Through the nearly six years of her employment, Nardi's court papers say, Paul Faulhaber, executive director of "The Maury Povich Show," ordered her to wear short skirts, low-cut blouses and push-up bras. Faulhaber is also a named defendant in the suit.
Court papers say Faulhaber directed her to wear concealed cameras and microphones for undercover assignments "such as going to bars to secretly videotape married men agreeing to have sex with her."
Nardi complains in court papers that these activities were outside her job description but she was forced to comply for fear of being fired. Her lawsuit says that when she complained, Faulhaber retaliated by making her do other demeaning jobs.
Court papers say Faulhaber forced Nardi "to run a gauntlet of sexually abusive and intimidating conduct," including posing in sexually explicit positions, exposing her breasts and watching porn with Faulhaber.
Baron said Monday that Nardi has been in psychiatric treatment because of the harassment. He also said she gained 40 to 50 pounds because of the workplace stress.
Besides, Povich, Ingber and Faulhaber, the lawsuit names NBC Universal Television and Povich's production company, Mopo, as defendants.
The lawsuit asks at least $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages.