Suni Reid, a former Hamilton cast member, filed a workplace discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday, claiming that the show didn’t renew their contract after they requested gender-neutral dressing rooms.
In the complaint, Reid (who identifies as nonbinary), stated that they were let go after the request was made, following several other incidents in which they were allegedly misgendered, harassed, and physically threatened.
Suni Reid was a cast member for the production since 2017, performing in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The request for a gender-neutral space was reportedly placed Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, last September. Reid alleges in the complaint, obtained by The LA Times, that they were sidelined and eventually let go soon after.
“Publicly, Hamilton is a beacon of diversity and appears committed to causes seeking social justice and harmony,” wrote Suni Reid’s lawyers, Lawrence M. Pearson and Lindsay M. Goldbrum. “Behind the curtain, however, the Company’s management will force out a Black, transgender cast member simply because they stood up for themselves and advocated for a more equitable workplace, and therefore called that public image into question.”
“We look forward to upholding Reid’s rights and hope this is a wake-up call for the theater industry about the systemic inequities that persist even at its greatest heights,” the complaint concluded.
Requesting a transfer from the Broadway production to the Chicago company in 2019, the complaint alleges that Suni Reid came out as gender-nonconforming and was “constantly misgendered” by co-workers in a “pointedly hostile or callous manner.”
Due to the Covid-19 shutdown, they were never able to perform in the Los Angeles production after rehearsal, though Suni had transferred there in 2020 after discrimination in Chicago.
In since-deleted posts online that have been restated in the discrimination complaint, Suni Reid alleged that many cast members were told by higher-ups at a meeting that there was “more to the story than you know” about their contract situation.
“This is not a plantation, if you want to leave, you can leave,” Jay Hewlin, a contract attorney for Hamilton, is described as telling the assembled cast.
After requesting gender-neutral dressing rooms, Suni Reid claims that Hewlin was brought on as a “contractor hired by Hamilton as a factfinder to help address cultural issues.”
Suni said that they asked, “if there were any conversations around having gender inclusivity training,” after several Zoom calls hearing our their concerns and listening to Suni’s stories of discrimination. The company told them that “it had not been discussed,” but thanked them for “bringing it to their attention.”
Later, the company suspended their contract offer, and said that Suni Reid promoted a “continual and consistent disparagement of Hamilton and its leadership team” throughout the negotiations.
In a statement of their own, a spokesperson for Hamilton denied the allegations and called Suni Reid a “valuable cast member” during their time on the show.
“We have not discriminated or retaliated against Suni,” the show claimed. During the shutdown, the show said that they provided Suni with “direct financial support, paid for their health insurance, and paid for their housing,” closing by saying that they “wish Suni well in their future endeavors.”
Despite eventually agreeing to setting up gender-neutral dressing rooms in every Hamilton theater, according to California law, Reid’s lawyers said in the complaint that the company remanded firm that they were “no longer open” to having Reid be a part of the show.
They were told that “renewal of their contract was no longer an option.”