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Suni Reid, a Black nonbinary and transgender actor who starred in Hamilton on Broadway, is alleging they experienced gender-based harassment while employed by the production, including that they were terminated for their social posts about the treatment and for later requesting gender-neutral dressing rooms.
The complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Los Angeles district office against Hamilton the Musical, Adventureland LLC and Eliza Tour LLC. It alleges that the production and its creative management team began looking for reasons to cut ties with Reid after the actor maintained the production’s suggestion of cordoning off a section of the main male dressing area with a curtain or sheet was not a sufficient solution to their dressing room request.
In a statement confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, Hamilton‘s producers and creative management deny the allegations made by Reid. “Suni Reid was a valued cast member for more than three years. We offered them a contract to return to Hamilton with terms responsive to their requests. We deny the allegations in the charge,” it states. “We have not discriminated or retaliated against Suni. Since the shutdown, our organization has taken care of our community.”
It goes on to assert that Reid was treated with “the same respect and consideration as all the company members of Hamilton” and was given “direct financial support, paid for their health insurance and paid for their housing.”
According to Reid’s complaint, while working on Hamilton — which included runs with the company’s New York, Chicago and Los Angeles productions — they were physically threatened in addition to being intentionally and repeatedly misgendered. And while “the company failed to act,” the complaint states, “the vast majority of [Reid’s] fellow cast and crew are wonderful colleagues.”
“Unfortunately, during Mx. Reid’s years with the show, which purports to be an icon of diversity, they have experienced frequent incidents of discrimination and harassment from cast members and management of Hamilton based upon their race, sexual orientation/LGBTQ+ status, gender and gender identity,” part of the complaint reads.
“Much of this harassment occurred in the dressing spaces for male performers that Mx. Reid had to use as a member of the cast in New York and Chicago,” it continues.
Reid appeared in ensemble roles during the show’s Broadway run between October 2017 and March 2019 as George Washington, Aaron Burr and Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. During the Chicago production, they served as a standby lead between March 2019 and January 2020 for the same roles with the addition of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson.
Wigdor LLP, a firm that has represented victims in high-profile discrimination and harassment cases in the media and entertainment industry including cases against Harvey Weinstein, Fox News and the Recording Academy, filed the complaint on Reid’s behalf. In a statement provided to THR, Reid’s lawyers Lawrence M. Pearson and Linsday M. Goldbrum said they “hope this is a wake-up call for the theater industry about the systemic inequities that persist even at its greatest heights.”
“Publicly, Hamilton is a beacon of diversity and appears committed to causes seeking social justice and harmony. Behind the curtain, however, the Company’s management will force out a Black, transgender cast member simply because they stood up for themselves and advocated for a more equitable workplace, and therefore called that public image into question.”
The complaint documents that Reid raised concerns around their mistreatment — including those physical threats and misgendering — several times, but that the company showed “indifference.” That response “drove” Reid to post about the issue on social media on more than one occasion, in attempts to spur action within the company.
The request that a gender-neutral dressing room be instituted by the company at the Pantages Theatre during the Los Angeles production of Hamilton was made around the May and June 2021 negotiations for the renewal of Reid’s contract. It was at this point, the complaint alleges, Reid’s contract was suspended due to their “problematic” media posts.
While their negotiations were suspended, Reid did not participate in several weeks of rehearsals as well as preview performances, the opening night and beyond. During this time, the complaint states several castmembers “pushed back” against the handling of the dressing room request, with one actor offering up and eventually having their dressing room turned into a gender-neutral space. Despite the change, Hamilton still terminated its contract discussions with Reid and did not bring them back.
“The only explanation is that Mx. Reid was punished for making legally protected complaints and requests to the Company,” the complaint states. “Though the Company did what it needed to in order to meet legal obligations and quell unrest among the cast, it would no longer tolerate or trust Mx. Reid as an employee who dared question the supposed ‘wokeness’ of the Company as a business.”
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