America's Got Talent says it's in talks with host Gabrielle Union
Won't confirm firing and says it is committed to a 'respectful workplace'
America's Got Talent network NBC and producers Fremantle and Syco have released a new statement saying they are talking with host Gabrielle Union over what she has said is a toxic culture on the set.
Last week, Union tweeted thanking fans for their support after Variety had reported she was being let go after just a season on the talent show's judging panel.
The network and producers did not confirm Union had been fired, nor did Union herself.
"We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture," the network and producers said Sunday in a joint statement. "We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate."
Union has said she was fired after complaining about racist jokes and other disrespect on the set, including judge-producer Simon Cowell's smoking indoors in violation of state law.
Variety also reported that Union was given notes by producers saying her hairstyles were "too black."
Following the release of NBC's statement, Union retweeted a tweet by entertainment and culture writer Joelle Monique, outlining the three steps to a "solid apology" and asserting that "anything less is covering your own ass."
This! This! AND THIIISSSSSSS!!!!!! <a href="https://t.co/RCrtKtkQ4L">https://t.co/RCrtKtkQ4L</a>—@itsgabrielleu
Time's Up and numerous Hollywood women have— called for NBC to launch an investigation into Union's concerns, which she says were previously ignored.
Time's Up CEO Tina Tchen called out NBC for what she called a "pattern" of protecting powerful men and retaliating against women who speak out.
What <a href="https://twitter.com/itsgabrielleu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@itsgabrielleu</a> experienced on <a href="https://twitter.com/nbc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBC</a>’s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AmericasGotTalent?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AmericasGotTalent</a> is deeply troubling on its own. But what makes it even more problematic is the pattern of <a href="https://twitter.com/NBCUniversal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBCUniversal</a> protecting the careers of powerful men at the expense of women who speak out. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TIMESUP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TIMESUP</a> <a href="https://t.co/QkE5WWZU2A">https://t.co/QkE5WWZU2A</a>—@TinaTchen
"Gabrielle Union's experience at America's Got Talent is exemplary of the double bind that black women face at work. Not only did Union reportedly endure and witness racist and inappropriate behaviour — including racially-insensitive comments and excessive criticism about her physical appearance — but it also appears she was punished for speaking out: the company labelled her as 'difficult' before ousting her from the show altogether," Tchen said.
Actors' union SAG-AFTRA has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Union's status at America's Got Talent. In a statement Sunday night, a spokesperson for the performers' union said, "While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now."