A former employee calls Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network a “hostile work environment” and is suing the Daytime Queen’s TV companies for acting with “an evil purpose.”
In papers filed in L.A. Superior Court on Friday, Catherine Dunn, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is suing the fledgling Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo Productions for “wrongful termination” and “discrimination.”
The former executive assistant says she had to take a stress leave from her position at OWN because of harassment. In the 25-page complaint, Dunn claims that leave extended into a “leave of absence due to the exacerbation of her multiple sclerosis symptoms due to workplace stress.”
Then, according to the court filing, things actually got worse for Dunn in Oprah’s empire.
On July 30, 2009, less than a week before she was scheduled to return to OWN on a graduated workday plan, Dunn — who had worked for OWN since August 2008 — says that she was informed that she and her position would be “terminated” as of Aug. 14, 2009.
“We have not seen the lawsuit,” OWN said in a statement. “We are unaware of the claims. When and if we see something we will review appropriately.” Attempts by TheWrap to contact attorneys for Dunn were not immediately returned.
While not naming the billionaire host directly, the 57-year old Dunn, who is seeking unspecified damages under California law from her time at OWN, the termination, alleged physical and psychological ramifications that have occurred since and general loss of income, says part of her eight-count case is that her position wasn’t actually terminated as OWN executives claim.
The former OWN executive assistant says in her filing that her position was not ended but filled by “a non-disabled, younger person.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this article.