Former Mass Appeal producer Melissa Cooper reportedly filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company, claiming she endured a “hostile work environment” before being fired for being white.
Nas isn’t actually named in the lawsuit but since he owns Mass Appeal, he’s inadvertently linked to the suit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan federal court by Cooper.
As an employee of the company, she claims she was bombarded with “venomous and racist comments about ‘white folk’ and ‘crackers'” before her termination.
The civil complaint names CEO Peter Bittenbender—who’s also white—and Senior Vice President for Partnerships & Content Acquisition Jenya Meggs as defendants. It states they “discriminated against her by removing her from several high value projects, creating a hostile work environment, and terminating her employment.”
The lawsuit claims that numerous racially insensitive remarks are centered on the upcoming documentary Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told.
As reported by AllHipHop.com, Freaknik is one of the biggest releases slated to come out on Hulu in 2024 and will tell the story of a HBCU picnic started by Spelman and Morehouse students from the Washington D.C. club. The Atlanta gathering evolved into one of the biggest experiences in Black culture.
Text messages show that Meggs was upset Cooper was on the project as an executive producer. Meggs said her friendship with Alex Avant, another executive producer on the documentary, got her in the door.
“Meggs was upset that Avant had decided to pitch the ‘Freaknik’ project to Cooper and not Meggs since Avant knew that Meggs was at Mass Appeal as well,” the lawsuit states, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “[Terry] Ross responded with surprise and said that this was ‘terrible.’ Meggs then texted that there were no hard feelings before qualifying Cooper’s selection for the Freaknik project as ‘Usual white folk behavior.'”
Meggs had another issue with Cooper that spilled over into 2023. She simply refused to work with Cooper and the plaintiff says it’s because she’s white and that Meggs pushed the agenda to get her off projects that deal with b######## content.
“Bittenbender removed Cooper from a number of projects, including Mass Appeal’s Hip Hop 50 Live concert at Yankee Stadium planned for August 11, 2023,” the lawsuit states. “Cooper’s removal from this important project, along with others Meggs was staffed on, effectively stripped Cooper of her primary role at Mass Appeal.”
Cooper was eventually fired on June 30. The lawsuit claims that same month, Bittenbender and Mass Appeal didn’t investigate Cooper’s allegations of racial discrimination