Gabrielle Union filed a harassment complaint against the producers of America’s Got Talent and NBCUniversal on Thursday, June 4, Variety reports. This harassment complaint follows her early dismissal from the competition series after one season in 2019, and her claims of a “toxic” and “racist” work environment which led to an internal investigation by NBC. In a May 27 Variety cover story, Union spoke out about the specifics of the workplace harassment at AGT, including an incident when Jay Leno told a “wildly racist” joke and there was “nothing done about it, no discipline, no companywide email, no reminder of what is appropriate in the workplace.” She also recounts unequal attention given to minority contestants in hair and makeup, and an incident when a white male contestant was cleared to perform an act that bordered on blackface. Now, a week later, Union has filed a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, specifically naming Simon Cowell’s Syco production company and FremantleMedia. Variety notes that “DFEH complaints are often precursors to lawsuits.” In a statement, Union’s lawyer Bryan Freedman states that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy “actually threatened Ms. Union in an attempt to silence her from telling the truth about racist actions that took place on the show.” The full statement reads:
When Gabrielle Union informed NBC of radically 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 Tweet from NBC to demonstrate that NBC intends to create an environment free from racism.