Ashlynn Alexander filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 20, 2017, containing allegations of unlawful retaliation in the workplace. The complaint lists Showtime Pictures Development Company, Possible Productions Inc., and Travis Rehwaldt as the Defendants.
Alexander claims that during her work as a body double on the set of the popular Showtime series “The Affair” Rehwaldt harassed her and then fired her for complaining about it. The Defendants’ actions, she claims, violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Human Rights Law.
The complaint also contains a claim for discrimination in violation of NYCHRL. Alexander believes that Rehwaldt treated her differently and negatively because of her sex. She filed a charge with the EEOC and received a Notice of Dismissal and Rights, known as a right to sue letter, on April 28, 2017.
Alexander worked from October 2013 until September 2015 as a body double for Ruth Wilson, the actress who plays the character of “Alison Baily” on The Affair. Her lawsuit states that during filming, it was Rehwalt’s responsibility to create daily call sheets and distribute them to the cast and crew on the set of the show including “all writers, directors, and other coordinators.” A call sheet lists everyone’s role and filming schedule for the following day.
“Alison Body Double” was the usual way that Alexander’s role appeared on the call sheets. However, on September 15, 2015, on the call sheet Alexander and the rest of the cast and crew received from Rehwaldt, he “had substituted her role with a description that read, “Alison Sexytime Double.” Alexander alleges that this reference humiliated her and reduced her to a sexual object to everyone who would see that call sheet. She further states that hers was the only name on the sheet that he altered and that she was “singled out and demeaned in front of everyone she worked with on set.”
Alexander claims that on the following day she confronted Rehwaldt to complain of sexual harassment. Rehwaldt allegedly acknowledged the inappropriate reference he made. Her complaint states that he then belittled her and suggested that he could replace her quickly. Because of this threat, Alexander became afraid of losing her job. Six days later, she received notice that she was fired.
Alexander was told that her hair did not match well with Wilson’s and they needed someone else to fill her role as a body double. However, Alexander claims that she wore a wig the entire time she worked as Wilson’s body double with no incident or reference to a problem. The woman hired to replace her also wears a wig to match Wilson’s hair. Alexander firmly believes that she was fired in direct retaliation for complaining about Rehwaldt.
Any adverse action an employer takes in response to a complaint about sexual harassment or discrimination may be illegal under Title VII, NYSHRL, and NYCHRL. Retaliation may be unlawful even if there is no unlawful underlying discrimination or harassment. The retaliation in and of itself can stand alone as a claim. It is often the strongest part of a case and the action that causes the most damage.
Alexander claims that after she was fired, she became depressed and lethargic. She allegedly suffers from severe anxiety because of the retaliatory treatment she received. Her complaint asks the court for punitive damages, lost income and money for her emotional distress.
If your employer retaliates against you for trying to enforce your right to work in an environment free from harassment or discrimination, call Leeds Brown Law, P.C. We represent employees in New York City and the surrounding areas. If you are demoted, docked pay, transferred or fired for complaining about sex discrimination or sexual harassment, we can help you file a claim with the appropriate New York State or Federal agency, negotiate a settlement or represent your interests in court. You can reach Leeds Brown 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658. Don’t wait. Call NYC employment lawyers today.