Gender Discrimination Allegations Made Against TMZ

Frank S. Clowney III

California is home to certain industries with notorious reputations for how women are treated in the workplace. These industries, which tend to be male dominated, include tech companies in Silicon Valley, the venture capital industry and much of the entertainment industry. While not all companies matching these descriptions share blame, the problems are widespread enough to paint these industries negatively.

Recently, new allegations (with familiar details) were made in a discrimination complaint against gossip outlet TMZ, the website TooFab, Warner Bros. (which owns both) and a production company called EHM Productions. The complainant, a 27-year-old woman who was fired in February of this year, officially filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

According to news sources, the woman worked as a production assistant and on-air contributor for TMZ, as well as doing work for the website TooFab. She alleges that in her nearly five years working there, she and other women endured a toxic workplace environment that was a “boys’ club” and had the atmosphere of a frat house.

The woman claims that she and her female colleagues:

  • Were held to different and higher standards than male employees
  • Were belittled at work
  • Were denied advancement opportunities
  • Were excluded from both business and social interactions
  • Suffered retaliation for reporting the sexism and misogyny they faced to human resources

In February, the woman was fired due to allegations of plagiarism and inaccurate reporting. But based on the timing of her firing (shortly after complaining a second time HR), the claims made against her warrant careful scrutiny if this case ever advances to a trial.

Right now, complaints have been filed with the EEOC and the DFEH, and outside observers only have access to the public allegations and the denials of those accused. But this case seems to bear a troubling resemblance to many other cases in the entertainment, finance and tech industries. If the allegations are substantiated, we must hope that continued litigation will eventually force much-needed cultural changes in these industries and others.