Actress Gabrielle Union has filed a complaint against producers, and the network of “America’s Got Talent,” asking officials to examine racism on the set of the reality show.
The complaint registered with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing states Union was harassed and discriminated against because of her race, and experienced retaliation for reporting these problems.
The document enumerates previously reported effects that Union, who is black, had with the show’s recognition of racist jokes and remarks from judges, and cites criticism she experienced about her hair during tapings.
The complaint appears months after Union’s exit from the show and a week after the culmination of a joint investigation by NBC, producers Fremantle and Simon Cowell’s Syco.
The joint investigation said that no derogatory remarks were presented about Union’s appearance, adding that “race or gender was not a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time.”
“Gabrielle Union, a black woman, was singled out due to her physical presence and discriminated against by NBC because her hair did not fit within the white image that NBC sought to convey to the audience of AGT,” the complaint affirms, adding that a network executive and a show producer “informed Union’s manager that her hair was ‘too wild’ and that is required to be ‘toned down.’”
In the new complaint, it is being insisted that “when Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially offensive behaviour during the taping of ‘America’s Got Talent,’ NBC did not stand with her in outrage at acts of racism.”
The complaint also includes new allegations that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy called Union’s agents to circulate unspecified threats, shared confidential information on the controversy with celebrities that the show was looking to hire, and attempted to undermine an investigation of Union’s issues.
That outside investigation commissioned by the network and producers, whose results were declared last week, observed Union’s allegations were unfounded and had no presence on the decision to drop her as a judge. The review acknowledged undefined “areas in which reporting processes could be improved.”
Gabrielle Union, known for her performances in the films Bring It On and Bad Boys II, performed on the talent showcase for a season until she and fellow freshman judge Julianne Hough weren’t asked to return.
Union’s attorney Bryan Freedman tells the “racial bullying” she received stands in contrast to the network’s recent statements about being abused by racism and standing with Black Lives Matter.
“When Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially invading conduct during the taping of America’s Got Talent, NBC did not ‘stand’ with her in ‘outrage at acts of racism,’” Freedman said in a statement. “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.”
NBCUniversal’s statement states the company “remains committed to creating an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds are treated with respect.”