On Feb. 19, the artistic director of iconic Los Angeles comedy theater and school iO West was terminated after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. The well-respected theater also has a branch in Chicago.
According to media reports, a former iO West intern came forward in early February with accusations that the director made unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2007, which she rejected. She claims she was fired shortly after the incident. On Feb. 19, another former intern posted similar claims against him in a private Facebook group. Later the same day, a comedian and former iO West student said that the director revoked an internship after she rebuffed his sexual advances.
The director denies all allegations, but his firing was confirmed by iO Theater’s founder. The theater indicated that it would be hiring a new female director. The comedy industry has long had a reputation for fostering a hostile work environment for women. There have been several high-profile sexual harassment cases involving male comedians and authority figures at comedy clubs. iO Theater and the Upright Citizens Brigade recently announced they are instituting new policies to address the issue. Meanwhile, many female comedians have turned to social media to report their experiences and to offer support to each other.
People who have experienced a wrongful termination as retaliation for speaking out against sexual harassment often wonder what recourse they have. After a review of the case, an employment law attorney may suggest that the filing of a claim with the EEOC or applicable state agency would be advisable.
Source: Buzzfeed, “Administrator At Iconic Comedy Theater Fired Over Sexual Harassment Allegations,” Katie J.M. and Baker Adam Serwer, Feb. 19, 2016