A former writer for TMZ filed a lawsuit Friday against the company for sexual discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination.
The suit stated that Catherine “Taryn” Hillin, who was employed by TMZ as a producer for approximately a year-and-a-half from Feb. 2012 to Sept. 2014, was the only female writer on the celebrity news website’s staff.
Hillin alleges that she was quickly advised that TMZ was a “boys club” favoring male employees over female employees, with one employee telling her, “Good luck being a girl writer.” The suit goes on to cite specific examples of discriminatory comments by executive producer Evan Rosenblum, including, “Don’t be a girl” and “Never cry in front of me.” Hillin further claims that Rosenblum humiliated her by screaming at her in front of coworkers, and belittling her with comments like, “You’re f—ing s–t,” and “I f—ing hate this s–t you hand in.”
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In relation to the work specifically, Hillin states that Rosenblum did not allow her to do rewrites on her own work, while male employees were able to. He had male writers do her rewrites, instead. He also allegedly told her repeatedly that her work wasn’t good enough, and yet other supervisors praised her work.
One at least one occasion, Hillin claims Rosenblum approved an article topic, and then later decided he didn’t like it upon learning that it was Hillin who wrote it rather than a male employee. Further, the suit alleges that Rosenblum gave male writers more favorable assignments than the female writers.
Further, Hillin claims she was denied promotions, while less-qualified male applicants were promoted instead. According to the lawsuit, this was all normal practice for TMZ. Employees allegedly told Hillin that “TMZ hates women” and “Evan [Rosenblum] hates women.”
Hillin claims that she was terminated after complaining on multiple occasions about Rosenblum’s discriminative behavior and the hostile work environment. She alleges that she was terminated based on her gender and as retaliation, and that the reason she was given was mere pretext. The suit further states that Hillin’s replacement was a male lacking her education, experience and/or qualifications.
TMZ Productions, Inc., EHM Productions Inc., and Warner Bros. Entertainment are named as corporate defendants, along with her direct supervisor, the aforementioned executive producer Evan Rosenblum, and up to 100 other as-yet-unnamed individuals, according to the lawsuit.
She is seeking unspecified damages, to be determined at the time of trial, along with legal fees incurred. Hillin is demanding a trial by jury for her case.