Former "Hamilton" cast member claims show didn't renew their contract over gender-neutral dressing room request
A Black, transgender "Hamilton" performer filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Los Angeles District Office Wednesday, claiming the show did not renew their contract after they repeatedly asked for a gender-neutral dressing room. Suni Reid was a cast member in the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago productions of "Hamilton," and said they were harassed and misgendered by fellow cast members multiple times, which led to their request for the dressing room.
"Publicly, Hamilton is a beacon of diversity and appears committed to causes seeking social justice and harmony. 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," Lawrence M. Pearson, Reid's attorney, said in a statement Wednesday.
"We look forward to upholding Mx. 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."
Reid was given a part in the show directly after graduating college in 2017, according to the complaint. They played ensemble roles and those of Aaron Burr, George Washington, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison on Broadway, as well as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in Chicago.
In the 28-page filing, Reid claims that the show "failed to act" when other actors in the group physically threatened and misgendered them in male dressing rooms in Chicago and New York. In May 2021, during discussions surrounding Reid's contract renewal, the performer allegedly asked the Los Angeles production's management for access to a gender-neutral dressing room, something they said "multiple" actors had expressed interest in.
Instead, Reid alleges the show agreed to simply hang a sheet across part of the main dressing room. After Reid said this was unacceptable, the performer claims "Hamilton" retaliated against them, suspending their ongoing contract negotiations in September.
A spokesperson for "Hamilton" denied the allegations.
"Suni Reid was a valued cast member for more than three years. We offered them a contract to return to 'Hamilton' with terms responsive to their requests," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We deny the allegations in the Charge. We have not discriminated or retaliated against Suni. Since the shutdown, our organization has taken care of our community. We have treated Suni with the same respect and consideration as all the company members of 'Hamilton.' Specifically, we have given Suni direct financial support, paid for their health insurance, and paid for their housing. We wish Suni well in their future endeavors."
According to the filing, even after actor Rory O'Malley, who plays King George, agreed to give up his private dressing room, Reid was still allegedly excluded from performances. "Hamilton" executives also allegedly expressed concern over Reid's Instagram posts requesting larger inclusivity in the industry, even though Reid said the posts "had been known to the Company for months."
"Hamilton's attacking response in labeling Mx. Reid as 'problematic' not only perpetuates harmful stereotypes, it betrays the Company's reflexive retaliatory impulse in response to Mx. Reid daring to question Hamilton's social equity bona fides and speaking up against mistreatment based on their race, sexual orientation/LGBTQ+ status, gender, and gender identity," the filing said.
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