Riggi, 62, first joined “Charlie Rose” in 1995 and claims she quickly found herself trapped in an environment her complaint refers to as a “sexual hunting ground."
Nowhere was safe for the women who worked with Rose, according to Riggi’s complaint. The harassment happened everywhere, she alleges, at his studio at Bloomberg, at his home in the Hamptons, in airplanes and limousines, at hotels and trendy restaurants. He would allegedly grope and paw at his female staff. He would allegedly stare at their breasts, look down their shirts and press himself against them.
Riggi says she was targeted by the television host, but she also claims she witnessed him target young female journalists with particular fervor.
Rose has been accused of sexual harassment by dozens of women whose stories echo Riggi’s. His behavior also allegedly extended to his work at CBS, where he co-hosted “CBS This Morning” and occasionally anchored the network’s “Evening News.” The network fired him after accusations of his sexual harassment became public, but a 2018 Washington Post investigation reported three occasions over 30 years in which network managers were warned about his behavior.
A 2017 Washington Post investigation reported that eight women claimed Rose made unwanted sexual advances to them in the form of lewd phone calls, groping and appearing nude in front of them. An additional 27 women who worked with Rose at CBS and elsewhere came forward a few months later with similar allegations.
In May 2018, three women who had worked for Rose sued him as well as CBS, saying he subjected them to unwanted sexual touching, comments and harassment, according to their complaint. The case remains ongoing.
The “Charlie Rose” talk show was produced by Charlie Rose Inc. and WNET, and it aired on Bloomberg Television and PBS until November 2017, when it was canceled because of the allegations against the host. Riggi’s complaint also names Bloomberg L.P. and Charlie Rose Inc. as defendants.
She claims Bloomberg knew about the harassment but failed to stop it, instead accommodating its star and his behavior. Riggi also says the network did not properly classify her as an employee but rather as an independent contractor, thereby denying her benefits, sick leave and other forms of compensation.
Riggi’s lawyer, Patrick J. Walsh, said in a statement that “Bloomberg, Charlie Rose and his company jointly employed Ms. Riggi for her entire tenure on the show. Bloomberg and Rose completely controlled and directed her work, and benefited from her loyal service for 22 years. But by misclassifying her as an independent contractor, they denied her the compensation, benefits and other protections they provided to the rest of their employees on the show.”
After Rose’s show was canceled, Riggi alleges she was let go from Bloomberg without severance or other unemployment benefits because she had been classified as an independent contractor. She is seeking damages and equitable relief for the harm she claims she endured emotionally and financially working for Rose.
“We understand that the plaintiff was a contractor of Charlie Rose Inc., and given that they operated independently of us, any of her compensation would have been handled solely by Charlie Rose Inc.," Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet said in a statement. Trippet later added that Riggi was never a Bloomberg employee.
Rose’s lawyer, Jonathan Bach, said in a statement that “Mr. Rose vehemently denies and will vigorously contest these allegations.”
“Among other things,” Bach continued, “the allegations in the complaint are completely inconsistent with written statements made by the plaintiff to Mr. Rose, including ‘I love working for you at your show, and would love to be part of any show that you host’, ‘I consider it an honor to be a member of your team,’ and ‘hope to see you more often! Please stop by anytime [smiling emoji].”
Bach said the emails were sent by Riggi between 2010 and 2012.
According to Riggi’s complaint, the abuse was verbal and physical at times, not just sexual. As a makeup artist, she often found herself in proximity to Rose, touching up his makeup and preparing guests for the cameras. The lawsuit claims he often became agitated during this process, berating her and swatting her hand away. Sometimes, she says, he made derisive comments about her weight in front of other staff members.
In one instance, Riggi says Rose “became upset” while she applied his makeup and “forcefully grabbed and twisted her arm, physically hurting her.”
Riggi says she reported the conduct to “a number of Bloomberg supervisors,” who she claims did nothing in response. After that incident, Rose allegedly asked for young women with no makeup experience to tend to his appearance, rather than Riggi.
Her dressing room became a safe space for the young women who were allegedly subjected to Rose’s sexual misconduct, the complaint says. Riggi’s suit relays the stories of several young female assistants and employees whom the lawsuit does not name because they have not publicly come forward.
Riggi also says she witnessed or was told firsthand about Rose’s interactions with women that went public, including Sarah Gordon, a former intern who alleged in November 2017 that Rose forced her to watch explicit sex scenes from a movie during one occasion when she delivered mail to his apartment.
That account is reiterated by Riggi, who claims in the lawsuit that Gordon complained to her about these delivery responsibilities. In one instance, Riggi says that Rose greeted Gordon in a towel after emerging from the shower, which prompted her to quickly leave.
Amy Brittain contributed to this report.