E! Online – B. Scott maintains that, apology or not, he was treated unfairly.
The TV and Internet personality, who is openly gay and transgender, has sued BET for $2.5 million, alleging that he was discriminated against when the network demanded that he change out of a dress and into men’s clothing before he was allowed on air as a style correspondent at the 2013 BET Awards in June.
“It’s not just about the fact that BET forced me to pull my hair back, asked me to take off my makeup, made me change my clothes and prevented me from wearing a heel,” Scott, who was born Brandon Sessoms, wrote on his website the day after the show. “It’s more so that from the mentality and environment created by BET made me feel less than and that something was wrong with who I am as a person.”
While BET had no comment when contacted today, the network issued the following statement last month, in response to Scott calling them out on social media:
“BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds. The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.”
Scott maintains in his lawsuit, filed today in L.A. Superior Court and obtained by E! News, that he had appeared on BET’s 106 & Park twice without issue and network executives were fully aware of his preferred style. The suit states that, when he was hired as a “stage style correspondent” for the awards show, he “was not told there would be appearance restrictions based on gender expression.”
He alleges in his complaint that the flowing black tunic and pants he chose for the show were “pre-approved” by producers, but after his first segment on the red carpet he was “literally yanked backstage and told that he ‘wasn’t acceptable.’”
Scott was “forced to change into solely men’s clothing,” the suit states, “different from the androgynous style of dress he’s used to, which he was uncomfortable with. BET and [parent company] Viacom made him feel less than his colleagues and made him feel something was wrong with him as a person.”
According to court documents, Scott was then told his services were no longer needed and he was replaced on the carpet by Adrienne Bailon—but BET, after “apparently realizing the error of the situation,” added him back near the very end of the show “in a diminished capacity” as Bailon’s cohost and subsequently never paid him.
No other correspondent was “restricted” in their hair, makeup, clothing or footwear at any time, the suit charges, and BET has had “hordes of females ‘twerking’ in mini skirts, spangly bras and other red carpet/stage wear without incident.”
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