Gabrielle Union has filed a discrimination complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing against NBCUniversal, Fremantle, Simon Cowell and Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, Union’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, tells Shadow And Act.
Journalist Yashar Ali broke the news on Twitter.
Here’s Attorney Freedman’s statement to Shadow And Act:
“When Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially offensive conduct during the taping of America’s Got Talent, NBC did not ‘stand’ with her in ‘outrage at acts of racism.’ Instead, NBC did not care enough to either promptly investigate Ms. Union’s complaints or even ask HR to get involved. Rather, NBC stood against her and directed its “outrage” at Ms. Union for whistleblowing about the racially offensive conduct she experienced while working for NBC on America’s Got Talent. In sharp contrast to NBC’s recent statement on race, what was truly an ‘outrage’ was the fact that Paul Telegdy, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, actually threatened Ms. Union in an attempt to silence her from telling the truth about racist actions that took place on the show. There is no place for this type of racial bullying in the workplace, and it is going to take more than a [t]weet from NBC to demonstrate that NBC intends to create an environment free from racism.”
Y’all fired Gabrielle Union after she reported racial harassment on one of your shows. SNL went over 5+ years without a black woman on the cast https://t.co/YR59PzS9OT
— cuntraversial (@fendifaguette) June 2, 2020
In late 2019, Variety released a report that took a deep dive into Union’s firing from the show, detailing several of Union’s complaints to the production team, which included her offense at a racist joke Jay Leno made about Asians while on set, racial incidents made by contestants, sexist critiques about the female judges’ hair and bodies, and Simon Cowell’s smoking, which caused Union to be sick while filming.
She addressed the situation for the first time in a Variety cover story in May, saying in part that working on the show was like “coming onto a set and you are literally met with the very definition of a toxic work environment, and it’s being carried out by the most powerful person on the production.”
UPDATE: 6/4/2020 5:36 PM
NBCUniversal sent Shadow And Act the following statement: The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue. We took Ms. Union‘s concerns seriously, and engaged an outside investigator who found an overarching culture of diversity on the show. NBCUniversal remains committed to creating an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds are treated with respect.
We’ll update this story with more information as it comes in.