A former executive is suing MTV Networks and its parent, Viacom (Nasdaq: VIA), claiming she was bullied by superiors and discriminated against for her age and gender before being unjustly fired.
Andrea Fair, a former vice president of talent-artist relations, filed the federal lawsuit Tuesday in the Southern District of New York. In her complaint, Fair names MTV exec Bruce Gillmer, whom she says was promoted to head her department in 2008. She claims Gillmer slashed her duties shortly thereafter, prohibited her from speaking to record reps and excluded her from meetings. She also claims he denied her trips to MTV awards shows in Europe and Africa -- citing a lack of department funds -- but then sent male employees and younger female employees instead.
According to an excerpt of the complaint published by Courthouse News Service, "In the days after Gillmer became her supervisor, it became clear to Fair that Gillmer was treating her differently because of her age and gender. On numerous occasions Gillmer accused Fair of being 'too emotional.'"
Fair, who the lawsuit says has worked in the music industry for 20 years, said she joined MTV in 2005 as a senior talent director. She was promoted to VP of talent and music three years later. She claims that MTV maintains an overall discriminating work culture in which some employees are given a pass for inappropriate antics while others are punished. Gillmer, she said, frequently made inappropriate remarks about fellow staffers, including calling his assistant "f**king nuts" and "wack-a-doodle," according to the statement. He also allegedly called a supervisor "a poisonous Nazi" and "sneaky bastard."
Fair goes on to claim that another senior VP -- who is not identified in the suit -- frequently chastised his staff and made anti-Semitic remarks about Fair's boyfriend. "Don't tell me you are going to start wearing a wig and take off the Sabbath," the man allegedly said. "Oh, great. Your mom will be so happy you are dating a Jewish doctor."
Fair claims that the two senior VPs were not disciplined for their behavior, while she herself was later let go for a "pattern" of inappropriate conduct. She said she was fired from MTV in 2010 after difficulties arose with a coordinator named Allison Faber, whom Fair believed was given preferential treatment despite being highly incompetent and even crying over "constructive criticism or management guidance."
According to the complaint, Gillmer sent Farber to MTV awards shows and a Los Angeles video shoot with Rihanna, despite telling Fair the department lacked the budget for such expenses.
This is not the first time MTV has been in trouble over its workplace culture. Last October, Eliza Sproul, a former production coordinator for the reality series "The Hills," sued the network, claiming that she had been sexually harassed and denied meals, rest breaks and overtime pay. She also said she was pressured to take drugs when the show was shooting on location in Costa Rica.
In a statement sent to IBTimes, Viacom said, "We feel strongly that the allegations in this claim are ludicrous and without merit. We plan to defend against it vigorously."