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Zola Mashariki, the recently ousted head of originals at BET, has filed a discrimination lawsuit in a California federal court, suing parent company Viacom, BET and former president of programming Stephen Hill, alleging gender discrimination.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mashariki’s complaint states “The Company fosters a good old boys’ club atmosphere and mentality that are hostile to women and their advancement. This misogynistic culture, which marginalizes, demeans, and undervalues women, begins at the top of the corporate structure.”

As we previously reported, Mashariki was recently fired when she was on medical leave after being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.

“When Ms. Mashariki was at her weakest moment, Viacom, BET, and Defendant Hill escalated their retaliation against her, proffering that due to her disability, she could no longer represent BET,” the complaint noted.

“If Viacom’s and BET’s actions with respect to her leave were not enough, upon information and belief, a senior executive at BET suggested to Ms. Mashariki’s colleagues that she was ‘faking’ her breast cancer. These false and reprehensible statements caused irreparable damage to Ms. Mashariki by suggesting that she was a liar attempting to avoid the duties of her office.”

In addition, Mashariki, who worked art BET since 2015, alleges that Hill harassed her repeatedly and was punished by HR for speaking out.

“The executive leadership of the Company is overwhelmingly male. Before Defendant Hill left BET, seven of the ten members of its executive team were men. Viacom has a similar overrepresentation of male executives, as six of the nine members of its senior management team are men. Development opportunities, including roles on critical committees, are routinely offered to male executives rather than their female counterparts.”

Mashariki also says that Hill took credit for her work and he was only let go during her leave because he couldn’t take credit for Mashariki’s  work while she was out of the office. She also wants for BET to retract their statements that she was let go because her work was not up to par.

THR reported that Mashariki is suing for “violations of gender discrimination, hostile workplace, retaliation, violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, denial of equal pay for equal work, disparate treatment, failure to prevent harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, defamation and more.”

In a statement, Viacom denied Mashariki’s accusations: “These claims misrepresent the facts and are without merit. We strongly deny any allegation of wrongdoing and we intend to respond to the specific allegations in the course of legal proceedings. At Viacom and BET, we take the health and well-being of our employees very seriously and we are committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse workplace that supports the success of all employees.”

Read her lawsuit in its entirety here.

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter

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