A former production assistant on “Ink Masters,” a reality television show featuring celebrity tattoo artists, has filed a federal lawsuit against the production company, the network, the network’s parent company, and two of the show’s celebrity judges. Robinson v. Original Media, LLC, et al, No. 1:14-cv-01821, complaint (S.D.N.Y., Mar. 17, 2014). She is asserting causes of action for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). No other plaintiffs have asserted claims, but the plaintiff’s complaint alleges that she was not the only sexual harassment victim involved in the show’s production.
According to her complaint, the plaintiff worked as a “Talent Wrangler” and Production Assistant on “Ink Masters” from October 29 to November 8, 2013. Her job duties included acting as a driver and running errands for two of the celebrity judges, defendants Oliver Peck and Richard Nunez. Her allegations of sexual harassment against the two men include inappropriate sexual comments, both made in her presence and directed at her; “degrading remarks about women;” unwanted touching; and sexual advances.
The plaintiff claims that she reported her concerns to her supervisor, but little or no action was taken. She also says that she asked the supervisor to arrange a meeting with Peck and Nunez to discuss her concerns, but that the supervisor said that would only make the harassment worse. She eventually asked to have a new production assistant assigned to the two men. She claims that after this, she never received another work assignment, and was therefore effectively terminated as of November 8.
In addition to the allegations of sexual harassment directed at her, the plaintiff also describes multiple instances of harassment of other female employees, as well as suggestions that the harassment has been ongoing since production of the show began. She claims, for example, that both men made repeated derogatory comments towards her supervisor, and that on one occasion Peck lifted her supervisor by the neck and choked her.
Several employees allegedly warned the plaintiff on her first day about Peck and Nunez, and the plaintiff claims that her supervisor specifically warned her that the two men would “torture” her. The plaintiff therefore claims in her complaint that the production company and other defendants knew about a pattern of harassing behavior but did nothing to prevent it. She further claims that employees of the production company, including her supervisor, witnessed the harassment and the plaintiff’s emotional distress but took no corrective action.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the NYSHRL prohibit employment discrimination based on sex or gender. Both laws treat sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination. The plaintiff’s lawsuit asserts nine causes of action: sexual harassment and hostile work environment under Title VII, the NYSHRL, and the NYCHRL; gender discrimination under all three laws; and retaliation under all three laws. She is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory damages, damages for emotional and physical injuries, lost wages, back pay, front pay, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages.
The employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent the rights of workers in New York City and surrounding areas. We represent people who have experienced unlawful sexual harassment and discrimination, fighting to protect their rights at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a knowledgeable advocate, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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New York Appellate Court Reverses Sexual Harassment Judgment, Finding Plaintiffs Did Not Connect Claim to Gender, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 20, 2014
Photo credit: Ian Sane [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr.