Gabrielle Union: NBC Boss Threatened Me

Actress files discrimination complaint against 'America's Got Talent'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2020 7:12 AM CDT
Gabrielle Union: NBC Boss Threatened Me
This March 11, 2019 file photo shows Gabrielle Union at the "America's Got Talent" Season 14 Kickoff in Pasadena, Calif.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Gabrielle Union has filed a discrimination complaint against NBC and the producers behind America's Got Talent over claims of a "toxic" and "racist" work environment. NBC launched an investigation into the claims last year, but determined there was "an overall culture of diversity," per Variety. That doesn't change the experience of season 14 judge Union, who described racist jokes and an act involving blackface, per Vulture. The complaint naming NBCUniversal, FremantleMedia, and Simon Cowell's Syco—filed Thursday with California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing—also newly claims NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy threatened her not to voice her accusations of racism on set. The complaint was first reported by journalist Yashar Ali, who said Union also intends to sue Cowell. DFEH complaints often precede lawsuits.

A rep says NBCUniversal "took Ms. Union's concerns seriously" and the claim of a threat is "categorically untrue." But Union's lawyer, Bryan Freedman, says Telegby "warned Union's agent that Union had better cease from pursuing her claims of racism while filming AGT" around Feb. 4. In a recent tweet, NBCUniversal said it stood with the black community "in outrage at acts of racism." But Freedman says NBC "directed its 'outrage' at Ms. Union for whistleblowing about the racially offensive conduct." Now, the network "wants to try and avoid the systemic issues that permeate its company." Union told Variety last week that her goal is "to create the happiest, most high-functioning, inclusive, protected and healthy example of a workplace." Sensitivity training and new options for reporting issues to HR have reportedly been implemented for the new season of AGT. (Show host Terry Crews said he should've supported Union.)

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