Gabrielle Union and NBC have reportedly reached a settlement over her allegations of a “toxic work environment” at “America’s Got Talent” that led to her subsequent exit as a judge.
An NBC spokesperson recently told Page Six: “We’ve reached an amicable resolution. NBC Entertainment appreciates the important concerns raised by Gabrielle Union and remains committed to ensuring an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds can be treated with respect.”
Although the settlement amount is undisclosed, Page Six reports that the settlement will be paid out by “America’s Got Talent” production companies Fremantle, NBC, and Syco.
As a recap, the controversy began last September when reports surfaced that Union was not being brought back to the show despite having two more option years — at the network’s discretion — left on her contract. Union suggested on social media that she felt blindsided by the decision.
She also hinted that something more nefarious was afoot: “There are some people who want the wheels of change to come to a grinding halt because they feel that their privilege is being challenged,” she said during a revelatory interview with Variety in May.
In the months after her departure, Union spoke publicly about what she believed was a toxic, racist work environment. Among the stories she told about AGT were her concerns about on-set racist behavior being dismissed by producers. According to Union, she witnessed a contestant wearing blackface — a white performer doing a Beyoncé impression with hands darkened by makeup — without repercussions, Jay Leno telling a racist joke with impunity, and being told by producers that her hairstyles were “too Black.” She also claimed that Simon Cowell was allowed to smoke indoors freely (which is illegal in workplaces in the state of California).
When Union’s allegations surfaced, NBC and Fremantle publicly professed ignorance of the toxic work environment, and vowed to take the claims “extremely seriously.”
Union refused to back down from her claims, saying that she viewed it as her responsibility to hold Hollywood accountable. “My goal is to create the happiest, most high-functioning, inclusive, protected and healthy example of a workplace,” she told Variety.
Union’s husband, Dwyane Wade, also became involved in the controversy, defending her honor from his Twitter account. “Over this past year I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife is the main reason they’ve started watching #AGT or that they love her insight and sincerity on the show,” he tweeted. He then followed up by adding, “As proud as I [was] of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— I am even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US.”
NBC eventually hired an outside investigator to look into Union’s claims. But according to NBC, the outside investigator apparently found that “no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time.”
It seems that even if NBC denied any claims of wrongdoing, the company felt the desire to bring the entire saga to an end via a settlement.