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Pop accused of gender and age discrimination, fostering a culture of bullying in lawsuit

Pop accused of gender and age discrimination, fostering a culture of bullying in lawsuit
Pop is a joint venture between Lionsgate and CBS. The basic cable network airs comedy series including "Schitt's Creek" and "Hollywood Darlings." (Pop)

Pop, the basic cable network that is a joint venture between Lionsgate and CBS, is being sued over allegations of gender and age discrimination, as well as for failing to prevent a culture of bullying toward women and employees over age 40.

The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, comes from a current network vice president who alleges that she endured inappropriate workplace comments. She also contends she was unfairly passed over for a promotion and a raise. The suit alleges that other female employees also faced repeated crude and demeaning comments from their superiors.

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Leslie Isaacs, a vice president of West Coast sales at Pop, states that her immediate supervisor, Michael Dupont, made a disparaging remark about employees over a certain age: “Good luck getting rid of the oldies, you can’t touch them after 40, trust me.”

She also said Dupont made derogatory comments about female employees, such as how “fat” some women were and that some were “just a pretty face to take clients out.”

Isaacs alleges that Pop’s national sales director Beecher Scarlett made a crude comment to her at an office holiday party, using a vulgarism for female genitalia.

It was one of a number of unpleasant interactions the plaintiff said she endured with Scarlett. Another involved a dispute over a client billing that she said resulted in retaliation against her after she took the matter to Lionsgate human resources.

The suit alleges other female employees also had to endure a culture of sexism, with incidents including a male vice president at CBS telling female sales employees at Pop to "show your clients your [breasts]" if they want to make “more sales.”

A Pop spokesperson said in a statement: “We take allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination very seriously, investigate them thoroughly and independently and take appropriate action. We have long had policies and procedures in place to prevent it and protect our employees, and we are committed to a diverse, tolerant and respectful working environment.”

The spokesperson said Dupont and Scarlett were not available for comment.

Isaacs said in the complaint that her attempts to secure a promotion and a raise at Pop were unsuccessful and that Scarlett — who the suit alleges is younger and has less experience — was promoted and named her supervisor. She also said that she was demoted to the title of “regional vice president” as opposed to “vice president” of sales.

The suit alleges that Pop hired an outside law firm to conduct a workplace investigation, including looking into claims of a hostile work environment, sexual harassment and discrimination.

It remains unclear if the investigation was complete and if so, what the findings were.

The complaint states that Pop, CBS and Lionsgate declined to participate in mediation, which compelled the plaintiff to file a lawsuit and make her dispute public.

Isaacs is seeking unspecified damages, including compensatory and punitive damages.

Pop, which is based in L.A., is known for its frothy programming lineup that includes original comedy series such as “Schitt’s Creek” and “Hollywood Darlings.” The network also airs the pro-wrestling series “Impact!” as well as reruns of old TV series.

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