The actor claims he was molested and fired from LA production for requesting gender-neutral locker rooms, the company slams social media posts
A Los Angeles production of “Hamilton” is currently under investigation after one of its cast members filed a federal civil rights complaint. Suni Reid, a black transgender actor who has been in the production for over two years, has accused the company of not stopping the harassment and sacked them for asking for a gender-neutral locker room. The lawsuit was reportedly filed with the US Equal Opportunities Commission in Los Angeles on October 13th.
The status of transgender people in the US is the subject of much debate, especially in schools. A school in Virginia is currently experiencing heat after a father alleged that his daughter was raped by a “skirt-wearing boy” in the girl’s bathroom. In June, a meeting of Loudoun County Schools Committee violated a proposed transgender policy, resulting in the arrest of two men. Comedian Dave Chappell is also exposed to massive heat because of his trans jokes in his latest Netflix special “The Closer”.
Production wanted to cordon off the area with a curtain
Reid’s long lawsuit shows how difficult the transgender’s life can be at work. They claim to have “witnessed frequent incidents of discrimination and harassment from performers and Hamilton management”. However, the production claims that it was Reid’s social media posts that led to his firing, and not, as they claim, the lack of a gender-neutral space.
Reid’s contract was due for renewal around May 2021, and during the negotiations he asked for a separate gender-neutral dressing room. The lawsuit states that it was meant not just for them, but for any cast member who wanted to use it. However, the production declined. Instead, they offered to cordon off an area of the men’s locker room with a curtain or sheet, which Reid said was not “appropriate”.
The impasse resulted in Hamilton “beginning to look for reasons to break off his relationship” and allegedly halting contract negotiations. Under pressure, the company blamed Reid’s “problematic” social media posts, which were anti-racism posts that Reid had written long before the negotiations began. In July 2021, when it seemed very unlikely that Hamilton would keep Reid, he hired lawyers who mailed Hamilton a letter informing them that they were violating federal and state law.
Even so, Reid was excluded from rehearsals and pre-premieres, as well as from the show’s opening night, for the entire summer of 2021. In September he was informed that Hamilton would not renew his contract. This happened despite a workaround and the cast had access to a gender neutral room. In addition, Reid has also listed several examples of bullying and harassment from some of the performers.
In her lawsuit, Reid said, “Hamilton is a beacon of diversity and appears to advocate social justice and harmony for themselves and advocate a fairer workplace and therefore question this public image.”
The production hit back with its own statement that was published via Deadline. “Suni Reid has been a valued performer for over three years. We have offered them a contract to return to Hamilton on terms that meet their needs. We deny the charges in the indictment. We have not discriminated against or retaliated against Suni,” they said . The statement went on to say, “We have treated Suni with the same respect and consideration as all Hamilton company members. Specifically, we gave Suni direct financial support, paid for their health insurance, and paid for their accommodation. We wish Suni all the best in her future endeavors. “
It is unclear when Reid’s case will be heard and what the future holds for her. For now, however, he’s busy putting the spotlight on the often-ignored theater industry. “It is very unfair for this company to take advantage of these diversity and inclusion claims, but essentially excommunicate someone who has spoken out about them,” they told the Los Angeles Times. Reid added, “It feels like Broadway and the entire industry has reopened without necessarily acknowledging a lot of these things.”