Comedy Group’s Assault Inquiry Sketchy, Fired Performer Says

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By Porter Wells

The Upright Citizens Brigade, a comedy organization based in New York City, has been accused by a male comic of sex discrimination and of creating a hostile work environment as it investigated rape allegations lodged against him.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp initiatives continue to accelerate, generating systemic reforms generally welcomed by the public. Other voices have cautioned against over-corrections within the workplace that may be unintentionally exclusionary.

Aaron Glaser, a male comedian, says his promising career was destroyed when he was fired from performing and teaching with Upright Citizens Brigade LLC on the basis of a secret investigation into accusations of sexual assault against him. He says the UCB has a policy of “believe all women” which led to a “mishandled” investigation into the “anonymous, reckless, hollow and wrongful” accusations.

Glaser had been associated with the teaching and performance group for ten years, according to the complaint filed Feb. 4 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Glaser says he was summoned to UCB’s Manhattan office in August 2016. There, he was told by UCB directors Alex Sidtis and Shannon O’Neill that a number of women had anonymously presented the organization with sexual assault accusations and that UCB had already conducted an investigation into those accusations, the complaint says. As a result of the investigation, he was terminated and banned from UCB premises, it says.

Sidtis and O’Neill demonstrated an inherent bias against him based upon “his status as the male accused” of sexual assault, Glaser says. Several of Glaser’s claims rest upon his assertion that he was denied a formal hearing before termination. Glaser’s complaint accuses UCB of negligence, sex discrimination, a hostile work environment, and retaliation.

Glaser has not received documents related to the investigation or information on how to appeal the investigation’s findings, according to his complaint.

After the news of Glaser’s termination leaked, he says UCB performers and the larger comedy community spread the message “Aaron Glaser is a rapist” across the internet. His roommates asked him to move out and he was dropped from his upcoming shows and commercials.

UCB, Sidtis, and O’Neill did not immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

The case is Glaser v. Upright Citizen’s Brigade, et al., S.D.N.Y., No. 1:18-cv-00971, 2/4/18.

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