Harssment at BET Claimed in Lead-Up to Nicki Minaj Sketch
BRONX, N.Y. (CN) - Black Entertainment Television insisted on using a particular cameraman to tape a story on rapper Nicki Minaj, according to a suit filed in New York, even though the producer for the story had previously complained that the cameraman was continuously replaying footage of her rear end taken while she walked up a staircase in a short skirt.
During a February 2009 editing session, Tameika Dorman claims camera operator Derek Clarke continually replayed the footage of her rear end so she asked why.
"Clarke grabbed and repeatedly rubbed his crotch, began to moan, and said it was because he loved her butt, that she was sexy and that she did not know what he was going to do to her," according to the complaint in Bronx County Supreme Court.
Dorman says she ran from the room crying and told a supervisor, who assured her that she would never have to work with Clarke again.
But the promise ran out in November 2010 as Dorman was preparing to interview rapper Nicki Minaj - another woman whose assets seem to capture fans' imaginations. A production coordinator suddenly replaced the regular camera operator with Clarke.
The coordinator, who Dorman claims was a friend of Clarke, allegedly explained that Clarke and his young son wanted to meet the pink-wigged artist.
This violated a BET policy of excluding nonessential personnel from "crowding" celebrities, Dorman claims.
She says she complained to her supervisor, who insisted that the production coordinator replace Clarke with the original camera operator.
The segment went on as planned and "received excellent ratings," Dorman claims.
But the same supervisor later gave Dorman a written warning for her opposition to working with Clarke, she says.
After this incident and Dorman's revelation to human resources that she was pregnant, she says the atmosphere surrounding her work at BET changed. Dorman was not consulted as often about her work, and she was replaced as the producer of the red-carpet portion of the BET Honors award show, according to the complaint.
Dorman says BET concluded its investigation of the Clarke incident by stating that the sexual harassment could not be corroborated, even though it had never bothered to interview a co-worker who witnessed the incident.
Two days later, and five months into her pregnancy, BET fired Dorman and replaced her with a man, claiming the company was "going in a different direction," according to the complaint.
Dorman sued BET for gender and pregnancy discrimination and retaliation, demanding punitive damages. She is represented by Kenneth Thompson with Thompson, Wigdor & Gilly of Manhattan.