The Viacom-owned cable channel BET has been hit with a lawsuit that alleges the network has a “mysoginistic culture” that “marginalizes, demeans, and undervalues women.” Variety reports that the wrongful termination suit was filed by Zola Mashariki, the former executive VP and head of original programming, who was reportedly fired while on medical leave to deal with breast cancer.
Mashariki “maintains that she was subjected to harassment and discriminatory treatment at the hands of her supervisor, former BET programming president Stephen Hill,” Variety reports. “BET announced the departures of Hill, a 17-year network veteran, and Mashariki on March 29. Mashariki joined the cabler in May 2015 after 15 years as a creative executive with Fox Searchlight.”
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses BET of “egregiously reckless and inhumane” treatment in dismissing Mashariki.
“Mashariki maintains that she complained to BET chairman-CEO Debra Lee directly about the treatment under Hill and made another formal complaint through her lawyer in November 2016,” Variety reports. “The complaint asserts that Hill was a ‘serial harasser’ who was protected by BET’s senior management.”
The report notes that even with Lee as CEO, the complaint says the network’s “misogynistic culture, which marginalizes, demeans, and undervalues women, begins at the top of the corporate structure.”