Transgender TV Host B. Scott Sues BET for Gender Discrimination
B. Scott on the BET Awards red carpet, before and after (lovebscott.com/WireImage)
B. Scott, a transgender TV host and popular Internet personality with a successful website, sued BET Networks on Tuesday for $2.5 million, stemming from an incident that took place at the 2013 BET Awards. He is claiming gender-identity and gender-expression discrimination along with five other complaints, after he says he was pulled from his hosting job for dressing in women's clothing.
In legal paperwork filed with Los Angeles Superior Court and posted to his website, B. Scott (real name: Brandon Sessoms) is suing for compensatory damages based upon gender-identity and gender-expression discrimination, sexual-orientation discrimination, violation of the Civil Rights Act, breach of contract, wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
B. Scott claims that while he was working as a Style Stage Correspondent on June 30 for the 2013 BET Awards "106 & Park" Pre-Show, producers pulled him from the red carpet and asked him to wear men's clothing, even though the women's clothing he originally wore had been pre-approved by the network and the broadcast's sponsors. However, "after his first segment, B. Scott was literally yanked backstage and told that he 'wasn't acceptable.' He was told to mute the makeup, pull back his hair, and he was forced to remove his clothing and take off his heels; thereby completely changing his gender identity and expression."
The lawsuit adds that he was then "forced to change into solely men's clothing." He claims he was not allowed to keep presenting and that the network then replaced him with "The Real" co-host Adrienne Bailon. Later, when he claims the network learned the error of their ways, B. Scott claims he was added back at the very end of the show in a diminished capacity as a co-host alongside Bailon.
B. Scott has a history of working with BET, having appeared on their show "106 & Park" twice before. In the lawsuit, he points out that his transgender persona and manner of appearance are well known from those past appearances.
BET had no comment when reached. However, on July 2, they issued the following statement on the matter: "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."
In a statement posted to his website on Wednesday, B. Scott wrote, "While I want nothing more than to put this incident behind me and move on with my life, I still wholeheartedly believe that I'm entitled to a true public apology. BET's non-apology statement added more insult to injury. What happened to me was not a 'miscommunication' nor was it 'unintentional'. It was wrong. I have been vehemently trying to come to a resolution with BET and Viacom behind the scenes. After a few weeks of back and forth dialogue with no foreseeable resolution, I have filed a lawsuit against BET and its parent company Viacom for discrimination on the basis of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation."