Weeks after an internal investigation into Gabrielle Union's allegations of racism on America's Got Talent, the former judge is gearing up to sue NBC, production companies behind the series, and Simon Cowell.
Union filed a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing against Cowell, NBC Universal, Fremantle Productions and Syco, according to a tweet from New York magazine’s Yashar Ali.
The document includes Union’s allegations of racial insensitivity and sexism on the hit reality show's set, with which she went public in 2019.
The complaint also alleges that NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy “threatened Union through her agent and warned Union’s agent that Union had better cease from pursuing her claims of racism while filming AGT.”
In a follow-up statement Thursday, Union’s lawyer Bryan Freedman said that the network did not care enough to investigate Union's claims.
Here is the full statement:
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.
Variety reported in 2019 that both Union and Julianne Hough, who was also let go from the series, had been subject to a "toxic culture" on the series, with them both getting notes on their appearance.
Union even reportedly got a note that her hairstyles were "too black."
Union was said to have turned to producers when she found a contestant's material racially insensitive, and despite clashing with them, they did not air the audition.
NBC revealed in December that a third party investigation would be carried out in response to the claims fro, Union.
In May, NBC, along with Fremantle and Syco, released the following statement based on the findings of the investigation, which concluded that “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.”
However, the investigation “highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved.”
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.