6:29pm PT by Ashley Cullins
OWN Employee Sues for Pregnancy Discrimination, Sexual Harassment
An Oprah Winfrey Network employee says her supervisor shamed her for morning sickness, simulated squeezing her breasts during a meeting and regularly discussed sexually graphic movie scenes in staff meetings, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Rebecca Taylor claims her supervisor in the deliverables and fulfillment services department, Nakisha Gowen, began harassing her when she was three months pregnant and the harassment continued after the birth of her son in November 2013.
Gowen would begin mandated staff meetings by discussing horror movies and would often act out sex scenes from the films, according to the complaint. Taylor says the behavior escalated to sexual assault in a December 2014 meeting during which Gowen simulated that she was squeezing Taylor's breasts during a conversation about babies being obsessed with women's breasts.
"Ms. Gowen then attempted to lay her head on [Taylor's] breasts," states the complaint. "Ms. Gowen committed these acts against the Plaintiff in order to create a sexually hostile and abusive work environment, and to degrade and humiliate the Plaintiff in front of her coworkers."
Taylor also claims when she was promoted to manager her pay was less than it should have been because Gowen was retaliating against her for refusing to endure the sexual harassment.
Taylor says she reported the harassment on multiple occasions, but OWN did nothing in response and in July 2015 she left work for nearly a year on "stress leave." She is suing OWN for sexual harassment, both sexual and pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other claims.
OWN has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The full complaint is below.