An ABC employee named Chelsea Stone filed suit in L.A. District Court on April 24th, 2009, claiming that Henry Ian Cusick, a charismatic lead actor on ABC’s smash-hit drama “Lost,” sexually harassed her; and that when she complained to her superiors at the network, she was fired in retaliation.
Due to the substance of the case and the high profile of the defendant, this harassment case has been getting a tremendous amount of attention from both the tabloids and the mainstream entertainment news media.
The lawsuit concerns events that transpired on October 16th, 2007. Stone claims that, while working as an ABC employee, Cusick harassed, groped, kissed, and otherwise fondled her while she was working on the set of “Lost.” The plaintiff also claims the defendant touched and rubbed her back, grabbed her buttocks, and made sexual noises at her.
Distressed by the ordeal, Stone complained to her superiors at ABC, where she had been working for over a decade (since 1997). But instead of responding to her complaints with sympathy and concern, so the suit alleges, the plaintiff’s bosses actually fired her for complaining–just 12 days after the alleged incident took place! If true, this act on the part of the network would constitute gross and illegal retaliation.
Stone’s suit also alleges that due to her “severe mental and emotional distress,” she suffered a miscarriage of her pregnancy.
She seeks damages pursuant to laws against sexual harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, and hostile work environment. To date, the actor’s representatives, ABC, and the production company in charge of “Lost” (Grass Skirt Entertainment) have all refused public comment.
If Stone’s allegations hold up in court, it will not be the first time that gross sexual harassment and discrimination have reared their heads in the entertainment industry. Hollywood’s major talent agencies, in particular, are well-known as hotbeds of workplace abuse, sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
To wit, many entertainment industry insiders point to the 1994 movie, Swimming With Sharks (Kevin Spacey)–which depicts a Hollywood executive cartoonishly belittling and abusing his young assistant–as a relatively realistic portrayal of behavior that actually goes on inside many Hollywood workplaces, particularly the talent agencies.