*Ian Smith, former host of the syndicated daytime talk show “The Doctors,” has accused ViacomCBS and the show’s producers of racial discrimination and wrongful termination.
As reported by TheWrap, Smith has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New York State Division of Human Rights alleging his efforts to diversify the show were repeatedly rejected. The white producers ultimately terminated him in January and replaced Smith with a white host.
“If my client didn’t complain about racism, he would still be the host of ‘The Doctors,’” Smith’s attorney, Rick Ostrove, said in a statement. “His repeated complaints are a show of courage. He stuck his neck out to make the industry more inclusive and make the world a better place. We are exceptionally confident that we will prevail in this case and look forward to trial.”
Smith’s complaint lists ViacomCBS, Stage 29 Productions and executive producers Patty Ciano and Jay McGraw, per the report.
He also accused Ciano of fostering an “extremely toxic and intimidating” work environment.
Here’s more from TheWrap:
The complaint also describes a January incident involving “Married to Medicine” star Jacqueline Walters and a Zoom hot mic that led to his termination.
“Between tapings, during friendly banter, Dr. Ian told Dr. Jackie that he no longer watched her show because of ‘how it made us look.’ This was a reference to the highly publicized concerns of people in the minority community that ‘Married to Medicine’ portrays African Americans in a negative light,” the complaint says.
Smith later overheard a producer and her assistants talking about the interaction over a Zoom call they were unaware was still active. One of the assistants was overheard saying, “Just because he’s Black, he can’t get away with s— like that. Someone needs to tell him off.”
After Smith confronted the producer about the incident and reported it Ciano, he was fired four days later.
“It’s outrageous that racism is still prevalent in the TV industry in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Smith’s attorney said. “Even after Dr. Ian’s complaints, CBS did nothing to remedy the situation and instead fired him. There was no legitimate business reason for his termination.”
Smith was a member of “The Doctors” for the sixth season in 2013 but did not return for Season 7.