We mentioned last week that MTV was facing a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former field clearance coordinator and production coordinator, but on October 28, 2011, the Hollywood Reporter said that former “Real World” cast member Tonya Cooley has now filed a lawsuit against the network and Bunim/Murray Productions. Cooley alleges she was victim to sexual abuse during the Thailand season of “The Real World/Road Rules Challenge.”
The Reporter noted that when the Village Voice published a standard “Real World” cast member contract in August, “many were still shocked just how far it went and whether the network really needed to insulate itself from liability from such acts as cast members possibly being humiliated or forced into ‘non-consensual physical contact.’” In addition to graphic accusations that include the network filming her being raped with a toothbrush by two male cast members while passed out, Cooley’s complaint “repeatedly states either the agreement she signed with MTV was an employment agreement or that her relationship with the network could be deemed as an employer/employee relationship by California labor code.”
As the Reporter noted, “since this is a labor case, whether or not the case proceeds or not will certainly come down to the employment uncertainty.” While the MTV contract may complicate Cooley’s case, both hostile working environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment remain illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. If you were the victim of sexual harassment, our Los Angeles employment lawyer wants you to know that an employer can be held accountable for harassment by supervisors or other employees whether or not they knew it was happening. Did you have questions about what constitutes sexual harassment? Contact our firm today to set up a confidential consultation.
Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorney