A Former Cast Member of ‘Hamilton’ Files a Discrimination Complaint Against the Show.
The actor, who is nonbinary, alleges in the E.E.O.C. lawsuit that he was retaliated against for demanding a gender-neutral changing room, among other things. The show vigorously refutes the charges.
On Wednesday, a former cast member of “Hamilton” filed a federal workplace complaint against the production, alleging that the company punished and failed to renew the actor’s contract when he requested a gender-neutral dressing room.
Suni Reid (who prefers the pronouns they/them) was marginalized and then let go in September after asking a gender-neutral room at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, where “Hamilton” was performing.
Reid, a Black, nonbinary performer who has been a part of the “Hamilton” productions in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles since 2017, detailed several other instances of discrimination and harassment by cast members and management over the years, including episodes in which Reid claimed they were physically threatened or intentionally and repeatedly misgendered.
Reid eventually wants to file legal claims in federal court, according to the lawsuit. Initiating an allegation of discrimination and retaliation with the E.E.O.C. is a pre-requisite for filing a lawsuit of this nature.
“Publicly, ‘Hamilton’ is a beacon of diversity and appears to be committed to social justice and harmony issues,” Reid’s attorneys, Lawrence M. Pearson and Lindsay M. Goldbrum, stated in a statement. “Behind the curtain, however, the Company’s management will terminate a Black, transgender cast member merely for standing up for themselves and advocating for a more fair workplace, so casting doubt on the Company’s public image.”
“We look forward to defending Reid’s rights and hope that this serves as a wake-up call for the theatrical industry regarding the systematic injustices that persist even at its pinnacle,” the statement read.
“Hamilton” issued its own statement Wednesday, stating that Reid had been a “valuable cast member” for years and that the theater had “given them a contract to return to ‘Hamilton’ on terms that met their wishes.”
“We refute the Charge,” the show stated. “We have taken no discriminatory action or retaliatory action against Suni.” Throughout the shutdown, the statement continued, “we have provided direct financial assistance to Suni, paid for their health insurance, and paid for their housing.” We wish Suni and her family the best of luck in their future endeavors.”
Reid, according to the complaint, has acted in the ensemble as well as roles such as Aaron Burr, George Washington, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, and Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson.
It comes as Broadway and touring productions struggle to reestablish themselves following a lengthy pandemic-related closure. Earlier this summer, as numerous Broadway companies, including “Hamilton,” prepared to reopen, some of the industry’s most important people made a pledge to reform the industry’s diversity standards.
However, Reid’s lawsuit portrays a picture of a hazardous work atmosphere that spanned from coast to coast at “Hamilton.”
Reid was cast in the Broadway version of the comedy in 2017 and, according to the complaint, was faced with animosity from the outset. Reid eventually requested a transfer from the Broadway show and began working with the Chicago company of “Hamilton” in March 2019, the complaint said, and openly identified as transgender and gender nonconforming. According to the complaint, they were routinely misgendered by coworkers, “at times in a pointedly unfriendly or insensitive manner.”
By 2020, Reid had began rehearsals for the Los Angeles company but was unable to perform with the ensemble due to the shutdown, the complaint stated.
Reid was honored with a contract extension for “Hamilton” in May. Around that time, they requested through their agent, Michele Largé, that the Pantages request a gender-neutral dressing room for Reid and others. Officials at “Hamilton” then expressed worry over statements Reid made on social media about the show’s racial equity issues, according to the complaint.
Eventually, the production agreed to establish gender-neutral dressing rooms in each “Hamilton” theater. However, in the fall, after Reid’s lawyers informed the show of their discrimination claims, the production informed Reid’s lawyers that it was “no longer open” to having Reid appear in “Hamilton,” and that “extension of their contract was no longer an option,” according to the complaint.