As America's Got Talent is currently running Season 15 with its new judges, a previously ousted judge is suing. Gabrielle Union has filed discrimination complaints against the teams behind the NBC talent competition, including the production company Fremantle, Simon Cowell's entertainment company Syco, and NBC Universal. A separate lawsuit is reportedly also being filed against one of the show's judges, Simon Cowell.
The news, which was first broken by journalist Yashar Ali, comes months after the initial reports about Gabrielle Union's experience on America's Got Talent first came out. Union had been in discussions with NBCUniversal about how best to move forward with its cultural environment in the workplace, but now it seems those talks have broken down. An official statement from Union's attorney Bryan Freedman shared more details on Union's issue with America's Got Talent.
When Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially offensive conduct during the taping of Americas 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 whistle-blowing 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.
Paul Telegdy's alleged threat is new information, and an added element to what has been previously reported in this situation. Previous reports had alleged that Gabrielle Union believed that the complaints she raised while on the show were not being investigated by NBC seriously, but no mentions were made about attempts to silence her.
Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough were dropped from America's Got Talent back in November 2019, but it wasn't until after the initial news that details emerged behind Union's experience. Stories included Union being told a young black rapper was not a contestant America could get behind, and the actress expressed concern after hearing a racially insensitive joke told by guest judge Jay Leno.
As mentioned, NBC Universal and Gabrielle Union had reportedly met and discussed ways to improve America's Got Talent and all programming following her departure. The latest news would seemingly indicate that Union was not satisfied with the talks. It has been reported (via Variety) that some changes have been made on America's Got Talent in how issues similar to what Union faced will be dealt with, and were in place when the currently airing Season 15 was filmed.
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