Suni Reid, who uses they/them pronouns, filed a complaint with California‘s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Wednesday after claiming they’d been dismissed over the request in June this year.
His complaint alleges that the Eliza Tour, which is the name of Hamilton’s Los Angeles production, offered to cordon or curtain-off an area of the main dressing room, and that he was removed from the cast list on saying such an arrangement was unsuitable.
Reid – whose complaint is a precursor to a lawsuit, and who uses the gender-neutral title Mx., – says he was ‘retaliated against after making what would be considered a ‘legally protected request’.
‘Unfortunately, during Mx. Reid’s years with the show, which purports to be an icon of diversity, they have experienced frequent incidents of discrimination and harassment from cast members and management of Hamilton based upon their race, sexual orientation/LGBTQ+ status, gender, and gender identity,’ the complaint alleges.
‘Although the vast majority of fellow cast and crew are wonderful colleagues, the Company failed to act when certain actors physically threatened or intentionally and repeatedly mis-gendered Mx. Reid, who was open about being transgender/non-binary.’
Reid claims they raised concerns about the mistreatment on several occasions, but ‘no help was forthcoming’.
Black trans actor Suni Reid (pictured) has filed a lawsuit accusing the hit musical Hamilton of discrimination and retaliation after they were allegedly dropped from the cast for requesting a gender-neutral dressing room
According to the complaint, Reid faced mocking and other forms of aggressive harassment since they joined the Hamilton cast in Broadway in October 2017.
They allege that cast and crew members treated them differently from their initial hiring, citing that instead of providing them with a warm welcome, the stage manager said: ‘Your role is cuttable, we can do the show without you.’
The complaint states that Reid was told to ‘tone done’ their performance on stage and that they – portraying the male ensemble character Man Six – were presenting as ‘too gay’. They claim fellow cast members also referred to them as Miss Six in an effort to mock their alleged lack of masculinity.
The suit outlines multiple pages of examples of alleged harassment that occurred before Reid joined the Chicago cast in March 2019.
They claim the harassment escalated in Chicago, citing an incident as early as their second show in the city. They claim actor Akron Watson, who portrayed Aaron Burr, came up to them and said ‘I will beat your a**,’ before walking away. Reid allegedly reported the incident, prompting a mediation.
Later that year, while still with the Chicago cast, Reid came out as transgender and gender-nonconforming. The complaint say several of their colleagues ‘appeared to take pleasure in or disregard the significance of misgendering Mx. Reid, at times in a pointedly hostile or callous manner.’
In June 2020, Reid joined the Board of Broadway for Racial Justice to help combat issues of racial inequity and injustice in the workplace. By March 2021, they were publicly discussing the alleged incidents of harassment on Instagram.
During contract renewal negotiations this past May or June, Reid requested that a gender-neutral dressing room, ‘appropriate for their gender identity and required by law,’ be set up by the Company at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.
The court document states that in July Reid learned Tony-nominated actor Rory O’Malley, who plays King George in the show, had ‘generously offered’ up his private dressing room for the requested facility.
It is alleged that ‘multiple other actors expressed interest’ in a gender-neutral space and stated that they would have used it.
The suit outlined numerous examples of alleged harassment and retaliation taken against the actor after they made what would be considered a ‘legally protected request’
According to Reid, Adventureland LLC — the company that handles contractual negotiations for musical’s Eliza Tour — refused an ‘adequate solution’ to their dressing room request and instead offered to section off a portion of the existing dressing room with a sheet or curtain.
They argue that management then began ‘looking for reasons to cut off its relationship’ with the actor and suspended contract negotiations, despite the fact that an agreement had been met regarding role and compensation.
‘Hamilton’s management openly showed their retaliatory animus against Mx. Reid by citing ‘problematic’ social media posts as the supposed reason for the hold-up, despite the fact that these posts (which raised issues of racial equity and discrimination) had been known to the Company for months before Mx. Reid’s contract discussions started up again,’ the complaint alleged.
According to the complaint, during contract renewal negotiations this past summer, Reid, pictured here second from left, requested that a gender-neutral dressing room, ‘appropriate for their gender identity and required by law,’ be set up by the Company at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood
Reid retained a lawyer in late July after being ‘faced with the imminent loss of their place in the cast’ and proceeded to inform the production company of the legal claims of discrimination and retaliation.
They were officially informed that Hamilton would not be renewing their contact in September.
The production began its Los Angeles performances on August 17.
A spokesperson for Hamilton has denied the allegations, issuing a statement to DailyMail.com that reads: ‘Suni Reid was a valued cast member for more than three years. We offered them a contract to return to Hamilton with terms responsive to their requests. We deny the allegations in the Charge.
‘We have not discriminated or retaliated against Suni. Since the shutdown, our organization has taken care of our community. We have treated Suni with the same respect and consideration as all the company members of Hamilton. Specifically, we have given Suni direct financial support, paid for their health insurance, and paid for their housing. We wish Suni well in their future endeavors.’
The court document states that Tony-nominated actor Rory O’Malley (left), who plays King George in the show, had ‘generously offered’ up his private dressing room for the facility that Reid (right) had requested
Reid, who first saw Hamilton back in 2015 after a friend won a pair of $10 tickets, had always dreamt of performing in a show that promoted diversity and inclusion.
‘I remember feeling thrilled — I was a young, aspiring theater artist, sitting front row to all of this magnificent Black talent on a Broadway stage,’ they shared with the Los Angeles Times.
‘It was so cool to see myself reflected in that space, and it really lit a fire under me to visualize it for myself and see if I could make it up there too.’
They joined the Hamilton cast on Broadway after graduating from Pace University’s performing arts program in 2017.
Reid initially held an ensemble role and eventually understudied for several lead roles during the show’s Chicago residency including that of Aaron Burr, George Washington, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison and Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson.
The production began its Los Angeles performances on August 17 (Pictured: The LA Hamilton cast)
Reid joined the Hamilton cast in 2017, initially holding an ensemble role. He eventually understudied for several lead roles during the show’s Chicago residency including that of Aaron Burr, George Washington, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison and Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson
‘Publicly, Hamilton is a beacon of diversity and appears committed to causes seeking social justice and harmony,’ the statement read.
‘Behind the curtain, however, the Company’s management will force out a black, transgender cast member simply because they stood up for themselves and advocated for a more equitable workplace, and therefore called that public image into question. We look forward to upholding Mx. Reid’s rights and hope this is a wake-up call for the theater industry about the systemic inequities that persist even at its greatest heights.’
According to the law firm, the complaint filed with the EEOC and California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is a precursor to filing a federal lawsuit.
‘Mx. Reid can and will seek economic damages for financial harm and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages, as well as reinstatement of employment,’ Pearson stated.
‘Mx. Reid also naturally hopes that the filing of their claims lead to Hamilton and its related companies taking a different, less hostile and adversarial approach in the future with employees who raise issues and concerns regarding discrimination, racial equity, and accommodations.’
Meanwhile, Reid told the Times they were nervous to share their story.
‘It’s a very vulnerable thing to share. It makes me a little anxious, but at the same time, it’s very unfair that this company gets to enjoy the benefits of these claims of diversity and inclusion, but essentially excommunicate someone who spoke up about it,’ they explained.
‘A lot of theater artists have spoken out about the injustices they’ve experienced inside these theaters and within these companies. It feels as though Broadway and the entire industry has reopened without necessarily acknowledging a lot of these things.’
Reid continued: ‘Those people who are smiling and singing and dancing and bringing them such joy — what is happening to those people after they exit the stage? What are their working conditions? I hope this is an opportunity for consumers of theater to dig deeper and be mindful of where their dollar is going.’
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