Former MTV VP Talent Sues Claiming Sex Discrimination

MTV Logo - 2010
Courtesy of MTV Networks

Andrea Fair, a former vp at MTV, is suing the network and parent Viacom, alleging sexual discrimination. In a lawsuit filed in New York federal court, Fair alleges that before she was fired, she dealt with one bullying boss and another female employee who was given preferential treatment.

The former MTV executive also appears ready to dish dirt on many of her former co-workers in the interest of supporting her claims that the network has maintained a double standard and ignored some inappropriate behavior but punished her.

Fair says she was hired in 2005 as a senior director and promoted in 2008 to vp talent and music ("TAM") at MTV. Fair says that in 2009 she was also appointed by MTV's CEO Judy McGrath to be on the company's Visionary Committee, responsible for discussing MTV's future.

She reported to Bruce Gillmer, a senior vp in the TAM department, who allegedly diminished her role, excluded her from meetings and allowed employees much younger than she was to attend events such as the European Music Awards.

"In the days after Gillmer became her supervisor, it became clear to Fair that Gillmer was treating her differently because of her age and gender. On numerous occasions Gillmer accused Fair of being 'too emotional,'" says the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

In 2009, one of the supervisors in the TAM department needed to be replaced, so Gillmer purportedly asked Fair to give her thoughts on a woman named Allison Farber, who was formerly an assistant to MTV executive vp Bill Flanagan.

Fair says she remembered Farber used to cry in her office and once confided about having "inappropriate activity" with both an MTV vp and senior vp. Fair says she relayed her reservations to Gillmer, but Farber was hired and problems soon ensued, she claims. Farber was difficult to manage, according to the lawsuit, and would do things like send her very sensitive, personal e-mails and give her gifts such as a book of poetry, a heart with a compass and notebooks for a journal. Gillmer allegedly made things worse with special treatment lavished on Farber, sending her on important trips such as the network's movie and music award shows as well as a video shoot with Rihanna.

Eventually, starting in August 2010, MTV human resources reps allegedly informed Fair that Farber had lodged a complaint against her for being inappropriately aggressive and controlling. Fair was told that Farber was "scared" of her, and interviews with Fair's previous supervisors and subordinates indicated a "pattern" of inappropriate conduct on Fair's part. She was fired by the network.

Fair now claims that MTV has failed to punish other males at the network, citing a list of employees including Gillmer who have purportedly made poisonous insults around the office and otherwise behaved inappropriately. She's suing for sex and age discrimination, asking that the network be directed to take affirmative steps to ensure that alleged unlawful practices be eliminated. She's also demanding lost wages and other compensatory damages.

Viacom/MTV tells THR in a statement that “while we don’t comment on the specifics of pending litigation, we do not believe there is any merit to this claim and plan to defend against it vigorously.”

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