The wide-ranging suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here) alleges breach of contract, multiple violations of the state Labor Code and more. Signore believes his firing was fiscally motivated. “This case is not about distrusting accusers of sexual assault or harassment,” the suit states. “This case is not about denigrating the #MeToo movement. This case is about preserving the integrity and influence of such movements by ensuring that powerful organizations are not permitted to exploit them for financial gain.”
Defy Media, which owned the Screen Junkies YouTube channel where Honest Trailers airs, fired Signore back in October — days after The New York Times published its Harvey Weinstein expose that launched the Hollywood sexual harassment and abuse scandals. The company cited a Twitter post by a former intern who worked for Signore that detailed allegations about how he made comments about masturbating to photos of her. Separately, a fan of Screen Junkies also gave a Twitter testimony on how Signore tried to assault her on multiple occasions. “There is simply no justification for his egregious and intolerable behavior,” Deny Media said at the time in terminating him, also via Twitter.
In his suit, Signore admits to having “flirtatious and sexual conversations” with the Screen Junkies fan April O’Donnell, who he said he met at a 2015 convention. He says they agreed to meet in Los Angeles a few weeks later “with the purpose of visiitng Signore and engaging in sexual relations with him,” and they had a couple of sexual trysts. Nearly two years later, the suit says, Defy CEO Matt Diamond called Signore to address sexual harassment allegations against the latter. “Diamond did not give Signore any specific details about the allegations, but assured Signore not to worry because nine times out of ten sexual harassment allegations at Defy did not lead to any responsive action.”
The suit also alleges that Defy’s “high-level management staff and shareholders were engaged in sexual and otherwise personal relationship with fans, interns and employees” and “sexual harassment was prevalent and went virtually unchecked. Any sexual harassment prevention training was perfunctory at best, and wholly ineffectual in stemming the pervasiveness throughout Defy’s staff.”
A Defy Media rep responded to the suit in a statement to Deadline, saying, “These claims are not grounded in facts and will be found to be baseless.”
The suit does not address the harassment claims made by Signore’s former intern.
Signore claims in the suit that Defy did not undertake an appropriate investigation of the accusations against” him and that the Weinstein scandal “created an opportunity” for Defy to terminate him and avoid compensating him. Attorneys Yana G. Henriks and Lisa Saperstein of McMurray Henriks LLP in Los Angeles are representing Signore in the suit, which seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.
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