Former head of original programming Zola Mashariki, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Viacom cabler, alleging managers fostered a hostile work environment that included retaliation when she complained to human resources and was fired while on medical leave for breast cancer.
As described by LA Times, the lawsuit, filed in California federal court, targets BET, Viacom and former BET president of programming Stephen Hill, alleging gender discrimination, defamation, violation of the Family Medical Leave Act and more.
“The Company fosters a good old boys’ club atmosphere and mentality that are hostile to women and their advancement,” the complaint alleges. “This misogynistic culture, which marginalizes, demeans and undervalues women, begins at the top of the corporate structure.”
According to the lawsuit, the company “questioned the validity of her diagnosis, prevented members of her team from contacting her and deliberately damaged her reputation.” Further, a senior executive at BET even suggested to Mashariki’s colleagues that she was “faking” her breast cancer, the suit alleges.