Ex-America's Got Talent judge Gabrielle Union has filed a complaint against Simon Cowell and the show's producers

Megan Davies
Photo credit: NBC

From Digital Spy

Former America's Got Talent judge Gabrielle Union has filed a complaint against the show's network, production companies and Simon Cowell over allegations of racism and sexism on set.

The actress served as a judge on the reality TV programme for one series before NBC later confirmed that Union wouldn't be returning to the show amid claims of a 'toxic culture' on the series.

Union has now filed a harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaint with California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), naming producers FremantleMedia and Simon Cowell's Syco as well as NBC Universal and Simon Cowell himself (via Deadline).

Photo credit: NBC

The complaint outlines Union's allegations of racial insensitivity and sexism on set, and it also alleges that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy "threatened Union through her agent" over her speaking out against racism on set.

Alongside the complaint, Union's lawyer Bryan Freedman has also issued a statement criticising NBC's recent statement in support of the Black Lives Matter protests, saying that "NBC did not 'stand'" with Union when she raised concerns of racially offensive conduct.

"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'," Freedman said (via TVLine).

"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."

Digital Spy has reached out to representatives of NBC Universal and Syco for comment.

Photo credit: Vince Bucci/AP - Getty Images

NBC previously launched an internal investigation into Union's claims back in December and released a statement about the result of the investigation last month, saying that "the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract".

"While the investigation has demonstrated an overall culture of diversity, it has also highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved," the statement read.

"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."

Photo credit: Paras Griffin/VMN18/Getty Images for BET

America's Got Talent host Terry Crews has also now publicly apologised to Gabrielle Union again for not supporting her after she was fired from the show.

"I am privileged as man, in a society that also has sexism built in. This privilege carries over into my community as a Black man in relationship with Black women," Terry wrote on Twitter today (June 4).

"It is in this light I want to make further amends with Black women, and in particular [Gabrielle Union] for not recognising the privilege I have – especially in the workplace – and adding this fact to my earlier apology."

Last month, Union opened up about her departure from the series, calling the show a "toxic work environment".

"It put me in a position from day one where I felt othered. I felt isolated," she said. "I felt singled out as being difficult, when I'm asking for basic laws to be followed. I want to come to work and be healthy and safe and listened to."

For more information on how you can support Black Lives Matter, please visit its official website or donate here. Readers can also donate to the UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up To Racism, and the Unite Families & Friends Campaign, which supports those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody.

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