Gabrielle Union Files Complaint Against Simon Cowell, NBC Universal + Says NBC Chief Tried To Intimidate Her After Claiming Racism On AGT Set
According to reports, former America’s Got Talent judge Gabrielle Union is suing Simon Cowell, Universal TV, Syco Entertainment and Fremantle Productions North America for claims regarding “racist and misogynistic conduct” during her time on the show.
In the suit, the actress also alleges that NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy directly intervened in a probe over the racism and misogyny claims in an effort to “silence and intimidate” Gabrielle.
Gabrielle Union is being represented by Hollywood lawyer Bryan Freedman and in the court documents the lawyer writes,
“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. Union’s agent was shocked that the Chairman of NBC Entertainment was attempting to threaten and intimidate Union. Union’s agent could not recall another instance in his career when a senior executive at a network had threatened and intimidated an employee during an ongoing workplace investigation.”
NBC has since released a statement denying Gabrielle Union’s claims and defended Paul Teledgy,
“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.”
In November the actress publicly announced that she would not be returning as a judge on AGT through a representative at NBC.
In December, Simon Cowell’s production company Syco Entertainment, which produces the show, released a statement along with NBC and Fremantle Productions after reports at the time alleged that Gabrielle was let go because she protested a toxic work environment on the set, and that she was also allegedly told that her hairstyles were “too black” for the series.
The statement read,
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
At the end of May, NBC along with Freemantle and Syco put out the following statement about the investigation into Gabrielle’s firing being dismissed and suggested race and gender were not factors in Gabrielle being let go,
“We have a shared passion to make America’s Got Talent a positive, inclusive and diverse show that is open to all individuals from any country or background. We are proud and grateful that our contestants and audiences support our ongoing mission, which is represented in the incredible people who participate in the show each year. We have heard from contestants and talent alike that their experience on AGT has had a positive impact on their lives. When we heard Ms. Union had concerns about her time on the show, we took them extremely seriously.
NBC, Fremantle and Syco immediately engaged an outside investigator who conducted more than 30 interviews to review the issues raised by Ms. Union. While the investigation has demonstrated an overall culture of diversity, it has also highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved.
Through the investigation process, it has been revealed that no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time. The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract.
NBC, Fremantle and Syco share Ms. Union’s dedication to diversity and inclusion in the industry. We continue to remain committed to having an inclusive environment for everyone associated with the show, and to upholding AGT as one of the most diverse programs on television.”
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