Gabrielle Union has filed a discrimination complaint against NBC and America’s Got Talent
Gabrielle Union filed a harassment complaint against NBC and the producers of America’s Got Talent, including Simon Cowell. This complaint was filed months after Union was let go as a judge from the show, alongside fellow judge Julianne Hough. In November 2019, Union and multiple inside sources told media outlets that the AGT work environment was toxic, with one source revealing that Union was told her hairstyles were “too Black” for the show’s audience.
Union’s complaint claims that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy threatened her once she began speaking out about the racism she experienced on the America’s Got Talent set.
Earlier reports state that Union became sick with a lung illness after being subjected to Cowell’s indoor smoking, and she witnessed a brushing off of racist jokes made by guest judge Jay Leno. Furthermore, she told Variety in a separate interview that she was appalled that AGT did not give contestants the option to make judges aware of their preferred pronouns. Yet, according to Union, NBC lagged on investigating any of the above when she brought these instances to their attention.
“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,’” Union’s attorney Bryan Freedman said in a statement to Variety, in response to NBC’s recent support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Instead, NBC did not care enough to either promptly investigate Ms. Union’s complaints or even ask HR to get involved.”
Freedman continued, “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.”
A spokesperson for NBCUniversal responded to the official complaint, per Variety, saying that, “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.”
Union’s husband Dwayne Wade wasn’t buying the idea that Union’s complaints were properly investigated and he came out to defend his wife.
“At the end of all this, my goal is real change—and not just on this show but for the larger parent company,” Union said in her recent Variety interview. “It starts from the top down. My goal is to create the happiest, most high-functioning, inclusive, protected, and healthy example of a workplace.”