Life isn’t always sprinkled with favorite things and exclusive interviews for Oprah Winfrey. Queen O’s TV network OWN was hit with a lawsuit for sex and pregnancy discrimination this Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Former senior level employee Carolyn Hommel began working for the OWN network in 2010. She was hired as senior director of scheduling and acquisitions at the network. In 2011, the lawsuit pinpoints, Hommel was given a “higher than the standard 20% bonus because of her superior performance and received a salary increase.” She was also told that she was on her way to becoming vice president of OWN. Then Hommel found out she was pregnant and became ill during her pregnancy. She was initially placed on a 2-week medical leave by her doctor, but it lasted for a month.
During this maternity leave her job duties were given to a temporary employee, and not back to Hommel when she returned. A month after giving birth she was fired due to “restructuring.”
After being encouraged, Hommel applied for the vice president gig, but didn’t get it because she says her former boss Michael Garner, named as a defendant in the case, made it seem as though her duties weren’t performed at the senior level. Hommel says her firing was a direct result of sex and pregnancy discrimination from Garner, since the job went to someone that did not suffer from pregnancy-related medical conditions. She is seeking unspecified damages due to the emotional damage caused by the defendant’s misconduct.
Dang, as a woman who has spent her life empowering women, this lawsuit is a big blow to the image of Oprah’s network. A full copy of the lawsuit is available via the Hollywood Reporter.