Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, April 21, 2006

California Supreme Court Tosses "Friends" Lawsuit

The California Supreme Court has remanded, with instructions to dismiss, a lawsuit against Warner Brothers Television by a former employee on the set of the "Friends" television show who asserted that "the writers' use of sexually coarse and vulgar language and conduct, including the recounting of their own sexual experiences, constituted harassment based on sex within the meaning of the Fair Employment and Housing Act...". Amaani Lyle had charged that she was fired not because her work was subpar, but because she was female. The Court found, however, that "[b]ased on the totality of the undisputed circumstances, particularly the fact that the Friends production was a creative workplace focused on generating scripts for an adult-oriented comedy show featuring sexual themes, we find no reasonable trier of fact could conclude such language constituted harassment directed at plaintiff because of her sex within the meaning of the FEHA. Furthermore, to the extent triable issues of fact exist as to whether certain comments were made about women other than plaintiff because of their sex, we find no reasonable trier of fact could conclude these particular comments were sever enough or sufficiently pervasive to create a work environment that was hostile or abusive to plaintiff in violation of the FEHA."

Warner Brothers had also raised a First Amendment defense, but because the Court resolved the issue on the grounds noted above, it did not address the First Amendment question.

Read the Court's entire opinion here.

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