Former daytime TV photo chief sues Sony for racial discrimination
A lawsuit was filed by a Black former member of the “Days of Our Lives” daytime television production crew who alleges management did not adequately address his discrimination and harassment claims, then fired him based on allegations made by the set workers about whom he had complained.
Plaintiff Vincent Steib’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed against Sony Pictures Television Inc. and Beachwood Services Inc., alleges racial discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment or retaliation, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unpaid wages upon termination.
Steib seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. A Sony representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit brought Thursday.
Steib, 65, had a career in the television and film industry for more than 40 years, winning two Emmys and being nominated for many more, and he is well-respected in the industry, having done thousands of hours of work in live television, according to the suit.
Steib’s last role while employed by the companies was as photography director for “Days of our Lives,” the show for which he began working in 2015, the suit states. At the start of that assignment, the man Steib replaced told him that there was “pervasive, known racism” on the “Days of Our Lives” set, where out of hundreds of employees, only a few were Black, the suit states.
When Steib recommended two Black electricians who were eventually hired, one was released after only about three days and the second was let go later ” because the team refused to work with him due to his race,” the suit alleges.
The show’s white electrician was repeatedly disrespectful to Steib in front of the crew and the cast, setting a pattern for how others perceived Steib as well as the discrimination tolerated on the set, the suit states.
The electrician verbally berated Steib during an incident between the two after the electrician asked the plaintiff to step outside, the suit states. The electrician further “made it clear that he was unhappy with Mr. Steib being his supervisor and set out to make Mr. Steib fail,” the suit alleges.
The crew members who followed the electrician’s example also discriminated against and harassed Steib, who heard another electrician tell the head carpenter, “All Black Lives Matter people want to put us white people in chains,” the suit states.
Steib also heard fellow employees say the only reason the plaintiff had a job was because he is Black and that the producers needed to fill a quota, according to the suit.
When Steib reported the alleged discrimination and harassment to his supervisors, they told him, “We’re working on it,” the suit states. The bosses assured him his job was safe “and that he did not have to worry about being sabotaged by anyone,” the suit states.
However, last October, members of Sony’s legal team summoned Steib to address allegations made against him by the same people he had complained about, then fired him, the suit states.
Steib suffers from severe emotional distress due to the alleged mistreatment he experienced on the “Days of Our Lives” set, the suit states.
Steib also maintains he is owed back wages and that he has been frustrated in finding a new job because of the co-workers’ allegations made against him, the nature of which are not elaborated upon in his suit.