” I want the culture to change. I don’t desire anybody to leave that office and cry and seem like they’re useless,” Bernadette Zilio informed BuzzFeed News.
Posted on August 25, 2020, at 11: 45 a.m. ET.
A previous TMZ worker submitted a suit against the celeb gossip show’s moms and dad business Warner Bros. Entertainment and EHM Productions on Tuesday alleging gender discrimination and retaliation.
Bernadette Zilio, 27, worked at TMZ and TooFab, another entertainment website owned by Warner Bros. and EHM Productions, from 2015 to 2020 and stated she was fired after she complained to HR about a culture of toxicity and sexism. TMZ founder Harvey Levin, TooFab Handling Editor Shyam Dodge, and TooFab Senior Producer Ross McDonagh are likewise called in the claim.
In the grievance, which was submitted Tuesday with the United States Equal Job Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Real estate, Zilio stated she went to Warner Bros. HR agents in April 2019 about concerns of “sexism, belittlement, favoritism and lies running widespread on [her] group.” She told HR that she felt there was a division of how males and females were treated on her team, which when she spoke up about McDonagh composing short articles she thought about sexist and offending, such as one that compared Rihanna getting ill with bronchitis and the “attack on her lungs” to her being attacked by Chris Brown, her concerns about playing down domestic violence were dismissed.
The problem also says that Zilio and her female associates described the workplace as “a kids’ club,” “100%a bro fest,” and a “freaking frat home.”
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” The very first time I went to HR, they introduced an examination,” Zilio informed BuzzFeed News. “Nothing is ever concrete, absolutely nothing is ever jotted down. I never ever get emails following up with anything … they tell you we have a no-retaliation policy. The examination concludes, nothing modifications, which’s when these small kinds of retaliation I feel occurred.”
2 weeks later, Zilio said HR informed her they did not find any evidence of gender bias in their examination based upon her complaint. That’s when Zilio said she began to feel retaliated against for reporting her concerns.
Zilio said that TMZ General Supervisor Stuart Alpert pulled her into a conference and said, “Shyam [Dodge] is your employer. You listen to him and function as one, or you leave.” Levin also presumably called Zilio into a meeting room for a personal meeting after the HR investigation.
” He laid out that whatever I had a concern with, whatever issues I had internally within the group with management, it didn’t matter,” Zilio stated. “My task was to report to Shyam [Dodge] and Shyam was the man that Harvey employed, and for that reason that is the chain of command and I’m expected to do what I’m told. It actually wasn’t a discussion, there was no opportunity for me to say anything and so I left of that conference in tears.”
Zilio said she was likewise reprimanded for making errors at work that her male associates were not criticized for.
In January 2020, Zilio got in touch with another Warner Bros. HR representative to say that she didn’t believe anything had actually been done to fix the sexist work environment she had actually complained about in2019 She then spoke with Warner Bros. Worker Relations representatives in February about how she thought the male and female staffers were treated differently and described what she called a sexist environment, even though she said she fidgeted about being struck back against for continuing to go to HR.
Zilio was ultimately fired and, according to the problem, her separation contract, which she declined to sign, was dated Feb. 26, 2020, one day after her last HR conference about her claims of a toxic and sexist work culture.
” By the time I reached out to HR for the second time in January 2020, I particularly said, ‘I am scared to be speaking with you today since my life was made hell after the last time I went to an HR representative,'” Zilio said. “She once again restated, ‘We have a no-retaliation policy. Whatever issues you have, we do not discriminate here, I’m here to assist you.’ Which’s the exact same female who strolled me out the front door on my last day.”
In a declaration, a spokesperson for TMZ and TooFab said the company “parted methods” with Zilio after “incidents of plagiarism and unreliable reporting.”
” This is an outright attempt to use negative promotion and inaccurate claims to require TooFab and TMZ to pay a monetary settlement,” the representative added. “We will vigorously prevent any attempt to mischaracterize what is a legal and justified employment decision.”
Bryan Arbeit, an attorney representing Zilio, told BuzzFeed News in a declaration that “this environment has actually been allowed to continue and definitely Warner Bros. knows what happens in the past and what continues to occur.”
He added that any claim of work performance-related concerns are “belied by the fact that Ms. Zilio worked for the company for five years and got a considerable raise prior to her problem of discrimination, and she was fired directly thereafter.”
” We are asking the EEOC to do a complete investigation into the hazardous environment that Warner Brothers and its subsidiaries have actually excused for too numerous years,” Arbeit said. “We hope other women who have actually experienced comparable discrimination and retaliation as Ms. Zilio will speak out to assist change how women are dealt with in the show business.”
Zilio stated she’s “still frightened” to freely discuss her experience at TMZ and TooFab despite the truth that she does not work there any longer, but her goal is to improve working conditions for existing employees there.
” I’m scared, however at the same time, this is larger than just me getting fired. I seem like it’s time for individuals to be held responsible,” Zilio stated. “I desire the culture to alter. I don’t desire anybody to leave that workplace and cry and feel like they’re useless. I do not think that’s healthy or regular.”
Beyond seeing a shift in the work environment at TMZ, TooFab, and Warner Bros., Zilio stated she likewise hopes the whole show business makes concrete changes to ensure that females feel safe going to HR when they’re operating in a harmful and sexist environment.
” It must be really, really considered when a woman goes to HR and states, ‘I do not feel comfy with this,’ or ‘I have a problem with that,’ and I think there require to be steps taken to have a more concrete HR investigation process,” she stated. “Due to the fact that right now, I believe people just twiddle their thumbs and come back and inform you nothing is wrong. I believe there ought to be paper trails, more participation with the real employee, and more testimony from other individuals.”