Sounds like things behind the scenes at America’s Funniest Home Videos are anything but a laughing matter.
This week, three former staffers went on the record with The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that producers of the family-friendly TV show enabled racist and sexually predatory behavior. The trio—Columbia Crandell, Tunisha Singleton, and Jessica Morse—are seeking damages from Vin di Bona Productions for wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, and emotional distress.
Crandell, 25, claimed in both a legal filing and LAPD report that she believed a male superior attempted to take an upskirt photo while she tested a VR headset in his office. After bringing her experience to the attention of managers, she was—unbeknownst to her—demoted from salaried to hourly pay status.
Singleton, 37. brought charges of racist behavior in the workplace. A stunning example was at a workplace comedy event, where she was humiliated and referred to as a “crack whore” in front of a staff of 50. One week later, she was laid off.
Finally, 24-year-old Morse has accused producers of wrongful termination. After telling management that she was uncomfortable interacting with the alleged offenders, she felt dismissed and silenced by an executive VP.
“They said over and over, ‘If you say something about someone and it turns out not to be true, you can be legally responsible,’” recalls Morse.
A lawyer for Vin Di Bona Productions provided a statement to THR, which read: “The company retained an external expert, followed recommended protocols, and conducted a thorough investigation. That process revealed no evidence of wrongdoing at the time.”
Barbara Cowan, the trio’s attorney, is currently fighting the producer’s attempt to move to arbitration. She tells THR, “Secrets thrive in darkness…Nobody gets to know what happens. It’s done in a closed room, not a public courtroom, and it’s just a secret proceeding designed to allow this behavior to continue.”
In the meantime, the show continues production while Crandell’s alleged perpetrator is on administrative leave.