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Former Warner Bros. Employee Sues Company, Alleging Gender Discrimination

— October 7, 2020

After being wrongfully terminated, a former marketing executive for Warner Bros. is suing the company over claims of gender discrimination and harassment.

Susan Steen, a former marketing executive for Warner Bros., recently decided to sue the company over allegations that she was terminated in retaliation after she made “allegations of gender discrimination and harassment by men in senior management.” As a result, Steen is seeking unspecified damages for “wrongful termination, gender discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, and fair-pay violation.”

Image of a Workplace Discrimination Graphic
Workplace Discrimination Graphic; image courtesy of mohamed_hassan via Pixabay,

Steen joined the company back in 1987. Over the years she was promoted many times until she was named SVP Worldwide Theatrical Marketing Service in 2018. The suit, which was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, states:

“Steen reported that she felt harassed as a woman and was being subjected to gender bias by specific male members of senior management. Despite complaints to her direct supervisor, to numerous executives, and to members of Human Resources, her complaints were dismissed as ‘silly, unimportant, and uncomfortable to address.’ Soon after her complaints, Ms. Steen was targeted with aggressiveness, threats, and retaliation…just one example, at meetings, the male Executive VP of Home Entertainment stood over Ms. Steen, aggressively wagging his fingers in her face, invading her personal space, and threatening a reorganization that would ‘not go well’ for Ms. Steen. Rather than properly escalate, investigate, and address Plaintiff’s complaints by taking appropriate corrective action, on December 20, 2018, Warner Brothers retaliated against Plaintiff by terminating her for false and pretextual reasons.”

It further states:

“This change prompted a swift and hostile response from the home entertainment division, where an ‘old boys’ club’ comprised of senior male managers resisted plaintiff’s new leadership role over them.” 

Steen also argues in her suit that her managers also tried to “undermine her decisions and block access to information crucial to her ability to achieve the cost-saving goals set by Warner Bros.” When she eventually complained to HR and her direct supervisor, Steen was “accused of misconduct, including non-compliance and violation of a nondisclosure agreement.” Additionally, she was “aggressively questioned in an accusatory, sexist and harassing manner.”

Then, on the night before Steen’s termination, she received an email from the HR department claimed the company was going to begin investigating her complaints. The suit states:

“As part of this purported investigation, Steen and witnesses to the conduct were told not to speak with anyone regarding the subject matter of the investigation.”

The next day, on December 20, 2018, she was fired without warning, purportedly for “sharing an email with a vendor, in violation of the non-disclosure agreement.” However, the suit notes that Steen “shared a non-confidential document commonly shared in the creative agency industry.”

In a statement about the matter, a spokesperson for Warner Bros said:

“The allegations in the complaint are inaccurate. We look forward to presenting the facts through the legal process.”


Warner Bros Sued For Gender Bias & Harassment; Fired Ex-Marketing Exec Alleges “Old Boys’ Club”; Company Calls Claims “Inaccurate” – Update

Warner Bros Facing Gender Bias and Harassment Lawsuit

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