Gabrielle Union Files Complaint Against NBC Universal, Simon Cowell 6 Months After AGT Exit
Union says in the complaint that as a black woman she was "singled out due to her physical appearance and discriminated against by NBC due to the fact that her hair did not fit within the white image that NBC apparently sought to convey to the AGT audience."
Union says in the complaint that she brought her grievances to the company but "instead of taking the appropriate actions and investigating these issues, Union was labeled as difficult."
Union also raised a new accusation that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy threatened her over speaking out against racism on set.
Union's lawsuit comes after she broke her silence on AGT's "toxic work environment" late last month.
"I signed up for the experience of being a part of a show that hails itself as the biggest stage in the world. Super diverse, and one about giving people an opportunity to shine where they otherwise probably wouldn't," Union said to Variety. "What could go wrong?"
Last November, it was confirmed that new judges Union and Julianne Hough, 31, would not be returning for AGT's 15th season.
Days later, a report by Variety claimed that Union had expressed concerns over alleged racial insensitivity on set, and that both women said they were subjected to "excessive notes" on their physical appearance. (In a statement at the time, Hough denied that she had a negative experience on the show and said she was "happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.")
Union and Hough's exits from the show last year launched an internal investigation of NBC and production companies Fremantle and Syco Entertainment. In a previous statement to PEOPLE, Fremantle, Syco and NBC said:
"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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