Former Exec Sues BET Over “Misogynistic Culture” Allegedly Fostered By Stephen Hill

(AllHipHop News) In March, there were a lot of headlines about the exit of longtime Black Entertainment Television executive Stephen Hill.

However, the turnover at the Viacom-owned cable network also included the dismissal of Zola Mashariki, the one-time Head of Original Programming at BET.

Mashariki has since filed a lawsuit in California federal court.

She alleges there was blatant gender discrimination at the company.

Mashariki’s complaint names Viacom, BET, and Hill as defendants.

“The Company fosters a good old boys’ club atmosphere and mentality that are hostile to women and their advancement,” reads the suit. “This misogynistic culture, which marginalizes, demeans, and undervalues women, begins at the top of the corporate structure.”

Mashariki also claims a senior executive at BET suggested she was faking her breast cancer diagnosis.

“These false and reprehensible statements caused irreparable damage to Ms. Mashariki by suggesting that she was a liar attempting to avoid the duties of her office,” states the complaint.

The Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School graduate called out Hill’s supposed actions in particular, “Defendant Hill has been permitted to systematically discriminate against and harass numerous women. He is protected by the Company’s old boys’ club and HR department.”

The complaint adds, “Defendant Hill announced he was leaving BET on March 29, 2017, while Ms. Mashariki was on leave. Upon information and belief, Defendant’s Hill’s contract was terminated. Between February 9 and March 29, Viacom and BET went from supporting Defendant Hill to terminating him. This is likely because Defendant Hill’s performance suffered when he could no longer appropriate and take credit for Ms. Mashariki’s work while she was on leave, nor could he effectively lead Original Programming without her.”

She also accused the company of violating the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) by unlawfully terminating her while she was on medical leave.

Viacom issued a statement about Mashariki’s lawsuit.

“These claims misrepresent the facts and are without merit,” responded a spokesperson for the corporation. “We strongly deny any allegation of wrongdoing and we intend to respond to the specific allegations in the course of legal proceedings. At Viacom and BET, we take the health and well-being of our employees very seriously and we are committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse workplace that supports the success of all employees.”

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