Gabrielle Union is again using her voice to take action.
After revealing details of the “toxic” work environment on the NBC series, America’s Got Talent, that made her become physically ill, the actress has filed a harassment complaint against the producers and network behind the show. In addition to the complaint, Union raised a new accusation that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy threatened her over speaking out against racism on set.
Unions’ attorney Bryan Freedman filed the complaint on Thursday with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, naming producers FremantleMedia and Simon Cowell’s Syco as well as NBCUniversal, Variety confirmed.
“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,’” Freedman said, invoking the company’s recent support of #BlackLivesMatter.
“Instead, NBC did not care enough to either promptly investigate Ms. Union’s complaints or even ask HR to get involved,” the complaint continued. “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.”
Freeman added that it “truly an ‘outrage'” when “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 Tweet from NBC to demonstrate that NBC intends to create an environment free from racism.”
This is just the first step in holding NBC responsible through the means of a formal lawsuit or arbitration — so Black talent employed by the network doesn’t have to face racial discrimination moving forward.
The irony of it all, which the complaint noted, is that just this week NBC posted what some are calling a “performative” statement, taking a stand against racial injustice in light of the recent George Floyd protests — when they’ve got much work to do when it comes to fair treatment of Black employees on their own network.
So far, NBCUniversal, Fremantle and Cowell have not commented on the complaint, but previously a joint statement interestingly claimed “no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time.”
“The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract,” the statement added.
Let’s hope NBC keeps the same energy when it comes to standing behind Union through this next phase of the process.