Reality Stars Want Out of NBC and Bravo’s ‘Draconian’ NDAs
The imminent legal battle between NBCUniversal and an undisclosed number of employees working on unscripted reality shows is heating up.
On Sunday, the media giant received another strongly worded letter from the lawyers representing cast and crew members across NBCU and its affiliates, demanding employees’ rights to discuss unlawful treatment, according to TMZ. In the latest notice, attorney Bryan Freedman orders NBCU to publicly release its employees from “draconian” NDAs that violate California law, or else be “forced into compliance.”
“We demand that NBCUniversal inform all of its unscripted employees and contractors and those affiliated with its third party production partners, including Evolution Media, that they are all hereby released from any contractual provisions that interfere with their ability to freely disclose unlawful conduct in the workplace,” the document reads.
Freedman, a veteran entertainment lawyer, cites California Government Code 12964.5, which states, “It is an unlawful employment practice… [f]or an employer to require an employee to sign a non-disparagement agreement or other document to the extent it has the purpose or effect of denying the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace.”
Per the letter, NBCU’s production partners—including the aforementioned Evolution Media, which produces Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills—have allegedly enforced illegal NDAs to hide “civil and criminal laws.” Furthermore, the letter reads, “Your collective failure to comply with the law has caused hundreds or thousands of people to stay silent about unlawful workplace conduct that have witnessed or experienced, which has included, racism; sexism; sexual violence; revenge porn; child labor; forced intoxication; and psychological, emotional and physical abuse.”
These allegations were listed in a prior letter to NBCU, issued on Aug. 3, that accused the conglomerate of “depraved and grotesque mistreatment” of its unscripted programs, including denying mental health services to reality stars.
While Freedman and fellow entertainment lawyer Mark Gergagos have been working with anonymous employees and investigating these allegations, former Real Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel has been publicly campaigning for reality TV stars to unionize, in light of the concurrent SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes and other unionizing efforts within the entertainment industry. On a recent episode of her Just B podcast, she accused Bravo of covering the severity of an infamous boating incident in Season 10 of the show.
In response to the first notice, NBCU told The Hollywood Reporter that it is “committed to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace for cast and crew on our reality shows.”
“If complaints are brought to our attention, we work with our production partners to ensure that timely, appropriate action is or has been taken, including investigations, medical and/or psychological support, and other remedial action that may be warranted such as personnel changes,” the company told THR.
NBCU has yet to publicly respond to the latest letter.
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