A former agent and assistant to APA chief Jim Gosnell has sued the agency and four individuals, including Gosnell, for sexual harassment and battery, wrongful termination and other alleged misconduct.
The plaintiff, identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, filed the suit Wednesday in LA Superior Court (read it HERE). She says her career plans were derailed by a series of actions by the agency. Her “dream of becoming a well-respected talent agent was quickly and cruelly dashed before it could even truly begin by a toxic, pervasive and sexually abusive environment fomented by the senior management at one of the nation’s leading talent agencies,” the complaint alleges.
The suit names Gosnell, Hammond and APA employees Paul Santana and Josh Humiston. Immediately after her hiring in 2015, through her exit last August, the plaintiff says she was subjected to sexual advances by employees at the “apex” of the agency’s hierarchy.
Any possibility of holding them accountable, the suit claims, was undermined by Gosnell conducting an alleged affair with the head of human resources. The suit also claims the plaintiff was sexually assaulted by Michael Hammond, who is COO of Collins Avenue Productions, an APA client and producer of unscripted shows like Dance Moms. According to the suit, the plaintiff was told not to report the assault to law enforcement.
Text messages from Humiston and Santana — many of them extremely explicit — are reproduced in the complaint. The fact that employees “felt brazen enough to put their bad behavior in writing is reflective of how toxic, tolerant and protective of APA’s culture of sexual and racial discrimination is,” according to the suit. Gosnell routinely berated her, it adds, using coarse language, throwing office objects at her and obstructing her progress from the assistant level to becoming an agent.
An APA spokesperson said the organization had not seen the complaint. “However, we heard many of these same claims months ago from the terminated employee who we believe filed the complaint, took the claims extremely seriously, hired independent investigators including a retired judge to look into them, and determined that not only are they false but that the person (a former terminated employee) raising them had fabricated email and text messages in order to shake the agency down. APA refused to pay the money and months ago sued the former employee in arbitration for extortion and defamation.
“We believe she is now retaliating against APA and its agents through this frivolous public complaint in which she hides her identity. We are confident that this former employee, now on her fourth attorney, will not succeed with her scheme of extortion. We intend to take all appropriate legal action against her and her counsel.”
Hammond did not respond to a message left at the Collins Avenue offices.