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Entertainment Weekly Sued for Discrimination

— January 10, 2022

Ms. Kaplan alleges a litany of misogynistic, racist, and homophobic comments and conduct. 

We represent Brittany Kaplan, a Senior Editor and Talent Booker at Entertainment Weekly in connection with a lawsuit she filed against EW in December 2021.  As has previously been reported, in December 2020, EW and its former editor in chief, JD Heyman, parted ways after multiple people made complaints about his inappropriate behavior.  

At the time, EW did not comment on his behavior, and little was reported as to the specifics.  In yesterday’s lawsuit, Ms. Kaplan alleges a litany of misogynistic, racist, and homophobic comments and conduct. 

Some examples include: 

  1. making “jokes” about the holocaust; 
  2. insulting the outfit of a Black LGBTQ+ employee while ignoring similarly eccentric outfits worn by white employees; 
  3. referring to famous musician, Jewel, as “snaggletooth” and insulting her for previously being homeless; 
  4. arguing against putting Black talent on the Black History Month edition of EW because he wanted the cover to be “joyous;” 
  5. refusing to acknowledge a Black female member of the Executive Staff during meetings; and 
  6. making “jokes” about eating disorders.

As outlined in the Complaint, Ms. Kaplan made various internal complaints about this conduct, and also complained about a lack of diversity at EW generally.  As alleged, no remedial action was taken and instead Ms. Kaplan was sidelined and stripped of virtually all of her responsibilities.  Moreover, she alleges that she was denied a promised title promotion and pay increase.  While EW did eventually terminate Mr. Heyman, the damage had already been done. Ms. Kaplan had already been removed from virtually all of her responsibilities and, critically, the Complaint alleges that the incoming EIC, Mary Margaret, was permitted to consult with Mr. Heyman (notwithstanding all of his atrocious alleged conduct) prior to taking on the role, giving him an opportunity to “poison the well” with respect to Ms. Kaplan.  As a result, Ms. Kaplan remains sidelined to this day.

Person holding up sign with angry face on it standing in front of red brick wall; image by Andre Hunter, via
Image by Andre Hunter, via

Finally, the Complaint alleges that EW’s refusal to take action against Mr. Heyman for many months prior to finally terminating him is further perplexing because he engaged in misconduct with respect to talent on the covers of EW’s magazines.  By way of example, first, it is alleged that Mr. Heyman intentionally disregarded Kristen Stewart’s request that she not be featured on EW’s June 2020 Pride Month magazine cover.  Second, Mr. Heyman also allegedly torpedoed a potential Ryan Reynolds cover because Mr. Reynolds wanted his diverse costars on the cover with him. As the ongoing wave of civil unrest flooded the United States in the Summer of 2020, Mr. Reynolds graciously attempted to use his fame to amplify his diverse co-stars’ name, image and likeness.  Mr. Heyman claimed that the cover would be too complicated to pull off with the three stars because he also wanted the cover to reflect the 30th Anniversary of EW.

After rejecting the majority-BIPOC cover, Mr. Heyman moved forward with a cover that featured six white people and only one BIPOC – moreover, the final cover contained only a passing reference to the 30th Anniversary of EW, which was ostensibly the reason that the majority BIPOC cover would be too difficult to pull off.  Third, later in the year Mr. Heyman put the late Chadwick Boseman on a cover of EW over the express objection of his family’s representative.

Quote from Wigdor LLP Partner Michael Willemin:

“Today’s filing is the unfortunate result of not only EW’s alleged discriminatory and retaliatory conduct, but also its utter unwillingness to take accountability for its conduct.  Ms. Kaplan has attempted for years to resolve the subject of today’s lawsuit short of litigation, but her internal complaints, even those made after we were retained to represent her, fell on deaf ears.  Thus, Ms. Kaplan was left with no choice but to file this action and hopes that EW will engage in the introspection necessary to remedy the continuing wrongs outlined in the Complaint.”

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