Three former writers for Circa, a Sinclair Broadcast Group news and entertainment website, have filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
Richelle Meiss, Malie Mason and Rebecca Zak, former staff writers for entertainment site Circa Laughs, said in the lawsuit that Randall Sherman, chief operating officer and co-founder of Medio Pictures Partners, “created an abusive work environment hostile to women by engaging in humiliating, demoralizing and alarming conduct.”
The women filed the complaint Dec. 14 in Superior Court of the State of California. Besides Circa, Medio, Sinclair and Sherman, the lawsuit also names Hollywood producer David Zucker, president and co-founder of Medio Pictures, and David Zucker Entertainment, which Circa partnered with last year to produce Circa Laughs.
Sherman, the lawsuit says, called the women and other female employees “sweetheart,” compared them to an emotional teenager and suggested that women have lower IQs than men. He claimed that women at work are not valuable unless attractive and asked Meiss to help him orchestrate nude scenes, which were not consistent with the segments Circa Laughs publishes, the lawsuit said.
The defendants discriminated against the writers and other women while giving preferential treatment to men, the lawsuit said.
The women allege the defendants took no action in response to Sherman’s conduct. After complaining, Zak was laid off in October, while Meiss and Bason were told they would be laid off at the end of the year, according to the lawsuit.
Manny Fantis, head of content and branding at Circa, said in a statement that the allegations were made against an “external service provider” and not a Sinclair employee.
“Circa does not tolerate unprofessional behavior of any kind,” Fantis said in the statement. “We will take steps to ensure that no one, regardless of their relationship with the company, compromises the positive work environment that we support.”
Circa channels air original short- and long-form content, including breaking news, documentaries, lifestyle and humor. Circa announced a partnership with Zucker in September 2016 to start the Circa Laughs portal, with segments created by comedy writers working under Zucker's supervision.