Months after she was fired from America’s Got Talent for reporting racist comments, Gabrielle Union has officially filed a complaint against NBC Universal, Fremantle, SYCO Entertainment and Simon Cowell himself. According to reporter Yashar Ali, the move follows months of negotiations regarding NBC’s cultural and workplace issues.
“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,’” the Bring It On actress’ attorney Bryan Freedman said in a statement, referencing the TV network’s recent social media statements about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. “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.”
On May 31, NBC spoke out on social media about the nationwide demonstrations sparked by George Floyd’s death. “We stand with our black employees, colleagues, partners and creators in outrage at acts of racism,” the entertainment company wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “Black lives matter.”
But the attorney’s statement seemed to challenge the network for not practicing what they preach, and it further claimed Paul Telegdy, the 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.” Through her lawyer, Gabrielle, 47, called out “racial bullying in the workplace” and said it would “take more than a tweet from NBC to demonstrate that NBC intends to create an environment free from racism.”
In November 2019, Variety reported the America’s Got Talent judge was fired from the show after she urged producers to report a racist joke. However, it wasn’t an isolated incident. Sources claimed the environment was a “toxic culture” as NBC and series producer Fremantle denied any wrongdoing on set.
While former costar Julianne Hough spoke out in support of the show, Gabrielle’s husband, Dwyane Wade, had her back. “’Men lie, women lie, [numbers] don’t.’ Over this past year, I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife @itsgabrielleu is the main reason they’ve started watching #AGT or that they love her insight or sincerity on the show,” the basketball player wrote on Twitter. “So, when I got the news that my wife was being fired — my first question was obviously, ‘Why!?’ I am still waiting on a good answer to that question.”
Calling his wife an “advocate for [their] community and culture,” he commended her for “standing up for what she stands for,” including the black community. “So, [cheers] to you, @itsgabrielleu on not losing sight of the lessons we’ve talked about, teaching our daughter and for kicking ass while you were on that platform,” he wrote. “No. 1 judge on one of the biggest shows in the world!!”
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