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Bryant Whitten, LLP

BET emails cited as evidence of sexual orientation discrimination

California viewers of Black Entertainment Television may be familiar with the gender-bending look of its host B. Scott. However, leaked emails from BET seem to show evidence of what some may consider workplace discrimination as company executives express concern over his "looking like a woman" while hosting on their network. For his part, Scott characterizes his gender identity as nonconforming, although he was born male.

The alleged discrimination started when Scott acted as a Style Stage Correspondent, interviewing celebrities who walked the red carpet at the BET Awards in June 2013. Reports surfaced that network brass made Scott remove his high heels and flamboyant makeup. He followed the alleged directive but never appeared in the segment. Although BET issued an apology for what it termed miscommunication, the presenter announced that he would sue the media company for discrimination regarding his gender expression, general identity and sexual orientation.

The leaked messages apparently discussed Scott's appearance, with one exec allegedly writing that he did not want to put out a male host who looked like a woman, instead saying that he wanted a "tempered" B. Scott. An alleged attempt was made to "spin" the situation as action taken after Scott was late for a live show and was acting unprofessionally, including having imbibed alcohol before the show. Scott said in a statement that he was disappointed that BET continued to try to put a spin on the situation instead of learning from what he termed their mistakes.

Sexual orientation discrimination is as unlawful as race discrimination, gender bias or institutionalized bigotry against a worker's ethnicity. Individuals who suspect they have been the target of discrimination or subjected to any kind of hostile work environment may be entitled to file a lawsuit seeking corrective action.

Source: The Huffington Post, "BET Emails About Host B. Scott Suggest Network Didn't Want Him 'Looking Like A Woman'", Cavan Sieczkowski, January 09, 2014

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