UPDATED with comment from Avi Lerner: A former employee today sued Avi Lerner and his Millennium Films and Nu Image Entertainment in a wide-ranging complaint that includes sexual harassment, hostile work environment and gender discrimination. The defendant, listed as Jane Roe, worked at Nu Image for five years until she was fired in 2016.
According to the 12-count complaint filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), throughout her tenure Roe and other female colleagues were “subjected to a discriminatory, harassing and misogynistic work environment, hostile to female employees.” Among the incendiary allegations are women being referred to as “whores, c*cksuckers and mistresses [by] owner Avi Lerner, head of development Boaz Davidson, head of production John Thompson, president of intemational sales and distribution Jeffrey Greenstein, and other high level employees.” The suit also claims a female VP was criticized “for not properly producing a movie because she was “too busy having sex with her boyfriend.”
“It’s all lies,” Lerner told Deadline tonight. “It’s all a joke.”
The 36-page lawsuit goes also claims Roe witnessed the “hiring Avi Lerner’s girlfriends to produce many of his movies, and giving them preferential treatment over female employees who were not having affairs with Lerner or other high level executives. When Plaintiff protested, she was told that ‘the girls’ were valuable to the company not only because they had sex with Lerner, but also because they helped procure hookers for the actors working with Nu Image.”
The filing, which comes on the heels of multiple sexual harassment charges against Fox News that led to the exits of leading on-air host Bill O’Reilly and Co-President Bill Shine, also alleges “pervasive wage inequality, in which male employees were paid more than female employees for comparable work” and “discrimination based on disability.” Roe claims she was fired in December “shortly after [she] disclosed her .impending back surgery.”
The suit seeks a jury trial, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction against the defendants from “engaging in any further acts of discrimination or retaliation against female employees or disabled employees.” Attorney Paula Greenberg, Iris Weinmann and Jane Tanimura of Santa Monica-based Greenberg & Weinmann are representing Roe in the case.
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