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Gabrielle Union highlights issues with NBC workplace

Hollywood actress Gabrielle Union was recently fired from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” over alleged discriminatory remarks that have now been publicized. A studio investigation has since launched to examine its so-called “toxic” culture.

Most notably known for her role in Peyton Reed’s “Bring It On,” Union became a judge for the talent show's 14th season earlier this year. Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough, whose contract was also not renewed, have reportedly received many comments about their appearances during their time with NBC. 

Union was allegedly told more than six times that her hair was “too Black” for the "America’s Got Talent" audience, according to an article from Variety.

But Hough denied having any negative experience with the show or NBC and she plans to work with the studio again in the near future. Unlike Hough, Union has faced tension with other "America’s Got Talent" cast members.

Simon Cowell, executive producer and judge, reportedly has a habit of illegally smoking indoors, much to the concern of Union.

In addition, last April, guest-judge Jay Leno called attention to a painting in one of the set’s hallways displaying Cowell surrounded by dogs. Leno is believed to have joked that the dogs looked like they could be “on the menu at a Korean restaurant,” according to the article.

Allegedly, Union interpreted this joke as racist toward Asian practices and urged producers to report the comment to the studio’s human resources department. No report was filed.

Reportedly, Union spoke out about the seemingly racist incident and Cowell’s smoking habits regularly. But nothing changed and Union’s concerns persisted, according to Vulture.

Despite both Union and Hough being cut from its newest season, the cast of all-male judges is expected to return. Specifically, Terry Crews, who was hired at the same time as both Union and Hough, had his "America’s Got Talent" contract renewed by NBC for the upcoming season.

Since the investigation has been publicized, Union has alluded to feeling discriminated and oppressed in the workplace. On Dec. 3, Union retweeted a post by Aisha Tyler which stated, “Nobody should fear being harassed, assaulted or discriminated against at work. Period.”

Many fellow female celebrities have spoken out in support of Union and her position in NBC’s investigation.

Ellen Pompeo tweeted on Nov. 28, “I support (Union’s) commitment to speaking up to injustice. It takes courage.”

Pompeo also reminded readers that “(NBC is) the same network that protected disgusting men like Matt Lauer and punished women for speaking out ... (it) has not changed (its) practices or culture.” 

In late 2017, the TODAY Show co-anchor Lauer was fired from NBC due to sexual harassment allegations involving incidents that date back to at least 2014, according to Variety.

Fellow celebrities Ariana Grande, Debra Messing and Patricia Arquette have also taken to the social media platform in Union’s defense against NBC.

Grande, Messing and Arquette went to Twitter to back Union: Grande tweeted, “Be better @nbc. We’re with you @itsgabrielleu," Messing tweeted, "This is disgusting behavior from a network that has been my professional home for decades" and Arquette tweeted, "Where is the union? HELLO??? @sagaftra."

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is the labor union that represents and protects actors, singers and journalists worldwide. The SAG-AFTRA has since joined in on NBC’s investigation into the questionable behavior at “America’s Got Talent,” according to SHOOT.

"America’s Got Talent" has been on air since 2006, and Union’s difficulties with the network are not the first to take place.

Sharon Osbourne, a former judge on the now-infamous show, said that “America’s Got Talent" is "a boys’ club,” according to Variety. She then went on to recount a time where fellow judge Howie Mandel was offered a private plane to nation-wide auditions while Osbourne was expected to fly commercial airlines.

Nonetheless, Osbourne had nothing negative to say about the show or her previous castmates. Osbourne left "America’s Got Talent" in 2012 due to NBC, not the show, according to CNN.

While Union’s discrimination concerns stem from the behavior at "America’s Got Talent," it seems as though its parent network, NBC, is responsible for the pattern of gender inequality that has taken place.

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