Gabrielle Union has filed a harassment and discrimination complaint against America’s Got Talent, which includes an accusation that NBC Entertainment Chief Paul Telegdy attempted to threaten her into silence.
The news of Union taking action against both the producers and network behind AGT, comes after a Variety cover story in which she detailed what she described as a “toxic” work environment laden with racially charged behavior.
Bryan Freedman, Union’s attorney, filed the complaint Thursday with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Simon Cowell’s Syco, Fremantle Media and NBCUniversal are all named in the complaint which is often a precursor to a lawsuit.
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In a statement released to the media, NBCUniversal denied Union’s claims: “The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue. We took Ms. Union’s concerns seriously, and engaged an outside investigator who found an overarching culture of diversity on the show. NBCUniversal remains committed to creating an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds are treated with respect.”
Freedman on behalf of Union issued a terse response to NBCUniversal.
“It’s very telling that NBC fails to substantively address the DFEH complaint that Ms. Union filed based on racial discrimination. Instead, NBC wants to try and play word games by saying that their Chairman Paul Telegdy did not directly threaten Gabrielle Union. NBC of course ignores Paragraph 5 of the DFEH complaint which specifically states: On or about February 4, 2020, 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. To hide behind the fact that Telegdy did not call her directly but her agent instead does not absolve him from his wrongful conduct. Should Mr. Telegdy wish to see phone records or call sheets from the date of his threat, we can make those available for the world to see.”
The complaint goes on to accuse NBC of doing little or nothing about the issues Union raised through proper channels at America’s Got Talent.
“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. 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.”