Anonymous Ex-APA Agent Says Top Execs Foster a 'Sexually Abusive Environment'
An anonymous ex-APA employee is suing the agency, claiming it was a "sexually abusive environment" and she was threatened with firing if she reported a sexual assault by a client to law enforcement.
"Plaintiff was incessantly subjected to sexual advances, crude and obscene comments, and retaliation, not at the hands of underlings at APA, but by its most senior apex management," writes attorney Ben Meisalas of Geragos & Geragos in the complaint. "The men in power at APA were allowed to prey upon usually much younger female subordinates, aided and abetted by APA's Director of Human Resources and General Counsel, both females."
The woman says the harassment began almost immediately after her hiring in 2015 and claims she was terminated in August 2018 in retaliation for not engaging in sexual acts with execs who propositioned her and for reporting the harassment to HR.
She is suing APA, its CEO Jim Gosnell, execs Paul Santana and Josh Humiston and client Michael Hammond.
The woman says Humiston, APA's head of music, sent her obscene texts including "If you fuck me, I'll convince [CEO] Jim [Gosnell] to pay you more money," one that called her a c—, and another that said, "I'm going to get you fired bitch."
"The fact that Humiston (and others at APA) felt brazen enough to put their bad behavior in writing is reflective of how toxic, tolerant and protective of APA's culture of sexual and racial discrimination is," writes Meisalas.
An APA spokesperson tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement: "APA has not seen the complaint. However, we heard many of these same claims months ago from the terminated employee who we believe filed the complaint, took the claims extremely seriously, hired independent investigators including a retired judge to look into them, and determined that not only are they false but that the person (a former terminated employee) raising them had fabricated email and text messages in order to shake the agency down. APA refused to pay the money and months ago sued the former employee in arbitration for extortion and defamation. We believe she is now retaliating against APA and its agents through this frivolous public complaint in which she hides her identity. We are confident that this former employee, now on her fourth attorney, will not succeed with her scheme of extortion. We intend to take all appropriate legal action against her and her counsel."
Doe says she worked as Gosnell's assistant for almost two years and was forced to endure mood swings which often became violent. On one occasion in January 2017, she claims "Gosnell threw a trash can filled with trash and a glass at [her] and called her a 'c—.'" When she reported the behavior to HR, she says her complaints "were met with excuses, indifference or opaque warnings that if she continued to complain about such behavior, she would not advance at APA." The woman says Gosnell "begrudgingly promoted" her to agent in April 2017, but relocated her workspace to the kitchen.
She says Santana, vice president of APA's talent department, "incessantly texted and verbally made sexually graphic remarks to her." For the majority of her employment, according to the complaint, she sat near Santana's office, where he had a direct view of her and would routinely comment on her looks and talk about living out his fantasies with her.
The woman says she repeatedly complained to the head of HR, whom she alleges was in a 15-year romantic relationship with Gosnell, and was told "boys will be boys" and if she couldn't handle it, she "wasn't cut out for Agency life."
Doe says the egregious conduct condoned by the agency culminated in her being sexually assaulted by Hammond, COO of Collins Avenue Productions. She says in July 2017 she attended a meeting with him at his office and he thrusted himself on her and forcibly kissed her while groping her hips and breasts. When she reported it to APA, she says she was "threatened by the company's senior management and APA's Office of the General Counsel to not report it to law enforcement or she would be terminated."
Doe also says APA head of talent Jim Osborne, who is not currently a defendant, subjected her to "racial and religiously hostile remarks," such as telling her "the Holocaust never happened" and "You're OK because you don't look like a Jew."
According to the complaint, the woman says APA finally looked into her claims against Santana after agent Tyler Gresham was fired amid sexual abuse allegations. Before her interview with the outside investigator, she says Gosnell ordered her to have "memory loss." When she tried to address complaints about Humiston during her interview with the investigator, she says the attorney, Mattias Wagener, told her those allegations were outside the scope of his assignment and APA didn't want to conduct an investigation into Humiston. An interview about Humiston with a different investigator happened the next month.
Afterward, she says she was ostracized by her colleagues and shut out of meetings and calls with clients. Ultimately, she was fired last August via email by the co-head of HR and says she never had an opportunity to meet in person or have a phone conversation about her termination. She also says APA filed an arbitration claim against her "claiming that her reporting of APA's abusive conduct constituted harassment of the agency."
Her claims include sexual harassment, gender violence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, retaliation and wrongful termination. Read the full complaint below.
The agency's music roster includes Tyga, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, T.I., Azealia Banks, Don McLean, Eddie Money, Fat Joe, Frankie Valli, Kansas, Omi, Plain White T's, Sister Hazel and Sir Mix-A-Lot. It also reps film and TV talent including Gary Oldman, Mira Sorvino, Mena Suvari, Haley Joel Osment, Lindsay Lohan and Betty White.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.