Sunday, October 24, 2021

Viacom and BET Settle Discrimination Suit with Former Executive

[videowaywire video_id=”3Q4M432YCNX9K21V”]

Zola Mashariki
Former Head of Original Programming/BET: Zola Mashariki

*In early 2017 Viacom and BET were hit with a discrimination and defamation lawsuit from a former executive, and a California federal judge denied their motions to dismiss the case.

Zola Mashariki sued in March, claiming she was terminated while on medical leave for breast cancer treatment and alleging that she was subjected to repeated gender discrimination and harassment by then-president of programming Stephen Hill.

Viacom and BET announced that they’ve come to a settlement with Mashariki.

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“As Head of Original Programming, Zola Mashariki brought fresh new content and top-notch talent to BET Networks,” BET said in a statement to Deadline. “We thank Ms. Mashariki for her many valuable contributions, and our thoughts are with her and her family as she focuses on her health. The litigation between the parties has been resolved. Neither party will make any further comment on this matter.”

It’s a far cry from late September, when lawyers for BET, Viacom and former BET president of programming Stephen Hill said Mashariki’s “First Amended Complaint and each of its purported claims for relief fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted” in their response. Failing in their efforts in August to see the matter tossed, all parties seemed set to pursue the suit to a jury trial after Mashariki filed an amended complaint September 14.

With sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations sweeping through Hollywood and the industry’s upper echelons in recent months, perhaps that new context offers some indication as to why this potential messy suit has been resolved before it got in front of a jury. In her initial complaint, Mashariki claimed there was and is a “misogynistic culture” at BET. In reaction, BET and Viacom asserted, “We are committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse workplace that supports the success of all employees.”

Mashariki and the corporate defendants have filed joint paperwork in federal court to see the matter closed. 

 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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