California Appeals Court Allows Actress to Be Sued for Refusing Nude Sex Scene

Cinemax Femme Fatales Key Art - P 2012

Cinemax Femme Fatales Key Art - P 2012

Anne Greene, hired to star in Cinemax's Femme Fatales, can't escape a producer's claim she breached the "nudity rider" of her contract by refusing to film nude sex scenes. On Friday, a California appeals court rejected her contention that production company True Crime impinged her right to petition a hostile work environment.

The actress, whose credits include Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, went to court in December 2012 with allegations that she was "blindsided" by sex scenes. Greene says she never would have agreed to the job if she knew it involved "soft-core porn." She brought claims of being sexually harassed and placed in a dangerous work environment against True Crime and Time Warner.   

According to True Crime, Greene auditioned for lead roles in the second season of Femme Fatales, and in advance, was sent a "sizzle reel" that unmistakably revealed that the series was an erotic, adult-targeted anthology whose principal castmembers appeared partially nude and engaged in acts of simulated sex. The producer says that by the time she accepted an offer to play a part in an episode titled "Jailbreak," 13 episodes of the show had already aired.

Greene says that the script changed, and a scene was added where she was to receive oral sex. Greene informed True Crime she wasn't comfortable with this, and the production company says it accommodated her concern. But on the second day of shooting, where she was to stimulate nude sex with a male actor, she allegedly refused to perform topless. Replacing her at this late point was impossible, says the production company, which adds it allowed her to use "pasties" to cover up her nipples despite the network's supposed policy against this. Greene says she only went ahead "under duress" with simulated sexual intercourse because of a $100,000-plus threat for breaching her contract.

After Greene sued, the defendant hit back with counterclaims, which led to Greene's argument via a motion to strike that the producer's action amounted to improper retaliation. A Los Angeles Superior Court rejected Greene's motion.

Thus comes today's opinion from Justice Norman Epstein at the Second Appellate District in California.

Epstein writes that True Crime's contract claims against Greene reference a small portion of her own complaint, but otherwise "is independently supported by facts regarding Greene's alleged breach of the Nudity Rider and Employment Agreement, activity arising before Greene filed her complaint."

Because of this, True Crime looking to punish Greene for her behavior on set is not deemed to "arise from her protected activity." Although the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a citizen's right to petition grievances, California's anti-SLAPP statute can't save her from facing claims by the production company in court.

The showdown now goes back to the L.A. Superior Court, which could soon be the center of a provocative trial.