Only Good Looking Need Apply? NBCUniversal Accused of Sex Bias

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By Jay-Anne B. Casuga

NBCUniversal LLC allegedly asked a recruiter for “good looking employees,” according to a lawsuit bringing sex discrimination claims against the media giant under New York state and city law ( Belanger v. NBC Universal, LLC , N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 156774/2017, complaint filed 7/27/17 ).

Those laws in general are interpreted consistently with federal anti-discrimination law, which allows employers to enforce reasonable dress code or appearance policies so long as they can show a business need or justification.

Stephanie Belanger said she was asked by staffing company Insight Global to provide her Facebook and Instagram profiles to NBCUniversal before she could be interviewed for a contractor position as an A.V. coordinator. Belanger made the allegations as part of her claims that a male NBC supervisor, John Carleo, sexually harassed her.

Carleo allegedly bragged that he had the “hottest coordinator in the office"; attempted to have a romantic relationship with Belanger, who wasn’t interested in dating him; spread rumors that he and Belanger had sexual relations; and repeatedly called her a “whore,” according to Belanger’s complaint, filed July 27 in a New York state court.

Belanger claimed that NBCUniversal rescinded a permanent employment offer in retaliation for her complaints about sexual harassment. She also said the job offer was revoked, and her job duties and pay reduced, because she had epilepsy and took new medication that caused her to have anxiety and emotional outbursts.

She brought claims of sexual harassment, disability discrimination, and retaliation under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.

An NBCUniversal spokesman told Bloomberg BNA July 31 that the company has no comment.

Representatives of Belanger didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment.

Daniel J. Kaiser of Kaiser Saurborn & Mair in New York represents Belanger. Attorneys haven’t yet entered an appearance in the lawsuit on behalf of NBCUniversal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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