5:47pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Oprah's OWN Hit With Sex Discrimination Lawsuit
Oprah Winfrey's OWN network has been sued by a former employee who claims she is the victim of sex and pregnancy discrimination.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Carolyn Hommel claims she was hired in 2010 as senior director of scheduling and acquisitions at the network, co-owned by Discovery Communications. But despite receiving a favorable performance review and being told she was on-track to become a vice president, she was replaced by a temporary employee when she was forced to take a medical leave during her pregnancy. Hommel says her duties were gradually taken away from her and given to the temporary employee, and she was later excluded from numerous meetings when she returned to the office.
On March 19, 2012, a month after giving birth to her daughter, Hommel was told she was being laid off, the complaint alleges. She was encouraged to re-apply for the vice president job, but she was passed over. She claims that her boss, Michael Garner, fabricated a performance review that "made Hommel's job duties and responsibilities appear less 'senior' and therefore not a candidate for the new vice president position." Garner also is a defendant in the suit.
Hommel claims her demotion and layoff are a direct result of her becoming pregnant and requiring a medical leave. She is seeking unspecified damages.
An OWN representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The suit, filed by Michael Bononi and Christy Granieri of Bononi Law Group, alleges causes of action for sex discrimination, disability discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination, retaliation and willful failure to pay wages upon discharge or termination.