Former assistant sues Randall Emmett for race discrimination

One of Randall Emmett’s former assistants sued the once-celebrity filmmaker, accusing him of racial discrimination and creating a hostile workplace that included the use of the N-word.

Martin G’Blae, 29, worked at production company Emmett/Furla Oasis for much of 2020, serving as a production assistant on Emmett’s action film Midnight in the Switchgrass.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, G’Blae, who is black, alleges racial discrimination was a factor in his termination.

The complaint – against Emmett, business partner George Furla and their LA-based film production company – alleges Emmett made racist comments about black performers, including rappers 50 Cent, Cardi B and Quavo. Atlanta rapper Quavo of Migos stars in Savage Salvation, an Emmett-directed film starring Robert De Niro, due out next month.

“Randall Emmett has never used a racially derogatory term in his life and Mr. G’Blae knows it,” Suann MacIsaac, Emmett’s attorney at the law firm Kinsella Weitzman, said in a statement Tuesday night. “Mr. Emmett looks forward to vigorously defending this action.”

G’Blae’s lawsuit contains 24 allegations of alleged rights violations, including that Emmett asked G’Blae to retrieve a “rock of cocaine” from a hotel room in Puerto Rico during a work trip in early 2020. The former assistant also said Emmett recruited him in an “insurance scam,” prompting him to file an insurance claim for his missing Rolls Royce, which G’Blae claims wasn’t actually stolen.

“By bringing to light the illegal pay system, discrimination, harassment and retaliation I have suffered while working for Randall Emmett and his companies, I am pleased to open the floor for these discussions,” said G’Blae a statement. “I hope this sends a message that there are just a few things you can’t stay silent about – illegal practices, abuse and your rights in the workplace are just a few of many.”

Several of G’Blae’s grievances were detailed in a Los Angeles Times investigation last summer into Emmett’s crumbling empire. The Times details allegations of mistreatment of women, assistants and investors who poured millions of dollars into Emmett’s film projects. Several financiers are now suing Emmett and Furla for civil fraud, which both men deny.

In June, Emmett’s rep, Sallie Hoffmeister, declined to comment on claims of his alleged past drug use, but stressed that the producer has been sober since October 2021. She added in a statement at the time that G’Blae “only recently criticized Randall, having previously spoken glowingly about him — even after he left EFO.”

The filing comes amid a rising tide of discontent among Hollywood assistants, who have spoken out about low wages and harsh treatment by Hollywood executives.

A Hollywood fixture for two decades, Emmett has produced more than 120 films, including low-budget action films starring Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson. Emmett has also co-produced critically acclaimed films including Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor and two Martin Scorsese films, Silence and the Oscar-nominated The Irishman for Netflix.

The lawsuit alleges that Emmett was upset in August 2020 after reading a book by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who gave Emmett a low rating. The two men were once business partners and co-producers on the Starz series Power, but they had a public falling out in 2019. In early 2020, Jackson released the book Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter.

“Emmett got mad at 50 Cent and G’Blae. He called 50 Cent, “that f—–g n—-r,” then said to G’Blae, “You’re all the same. All you do is push people.’ Then he threw the book at G’Blae,” the lawsuit states.

G’Blae claims he was attacked in other ways.

“Emmett would often drop money near G’Blae and leave expensive watches and jewelry near him as if to see if he would steal them,” the lawsuit states. “Other employees pointed out the oddity to G’Blae, noting that Emmett would only do this around G’Blae.”

Emmett also ordered G’Blae, then the only African American employee at Emmett/Furla Oasis, to “turn out his pockets to see if he stole anything,” the lawsuit says. “Emmett did this to address the stereotype that African Americans are thieves.”

In another incident, while watching black Latina rapper Cardi B on TV, Emmett allegedly called her “a ‘Ratchet B—’ and expressed that he had trouble understanding what she was saying. So he asked G’Blae to ‘translate’ for him,” the lawsuit said.

The complaint added that Emmett said he had trouble understanding Quavo and once asked G’Blae, “Martin, if I date Quavo, would anyone know who he is? Or is it just something of a culture thing?”

A man sits outdoors with his hand on his chin.

Martin G’Blae in June 2022.

(Allie Leepson + Jen McClary / For The Times)

G’Blae, who was paid $1,500 every two weeks, said he was on call 12 hours a day and on weekends, resulting in pay that was less than the California minimum wage. And he said he was often asked to cover Emmett’s personal expenses, including meals and lodging.

“To date, G’Blae has only been partially reimbursed for these costs,” the complaint reads.

In her statement, MacIsaac accused G’Blae of “trying to extort thousands of dollars from Mr. Emmett for months. Although he claims he is owed previous expenses, Mr G’Blae’s story is ever-changing and he has refused to support any of the allegedly unpaid expenses,” she said.

In the lawsuit, G’Blae said he faced religious discrimination because he was Muslim and was discriminated against because of a disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In June 2020, Emmett called G’Blae into his office — in front of at least two other people — and asked, “‘What was that illness that left you retarded?’ Although he was uncomfortable with the question, G’Blae reminded him that he had ADHD,” the lawsuit reads.

Labor attorneys Young K. Park and Tara Hattendorf of the Marlis Park law firm are representing G’Blae. The lawsuit does not name claims for damages, but calls for a jury trial.

Last year, G’Blae texted EFO’s accountant and Emmett to get his expenses reimbursed.

The producer then left several voice notes, including one in which he offered G’Blae $50,000 to produce a film and said he was “in a sad place right now.”

The voice memos, reviewed by The Times, were left just days after Emmett’s former fiancé Lala Kent, a star of ‘VanderPump Rules’, after she broke off their relationship amid allegations that Emmett had cheated. Kent, who shares custody of a young daughter with Emmett, has been open about their relationship.

Last month, Emmett’s ex-wife, Ambyr Childers, filed for a restraining order against the producer after receiving emails in which Emmett’s lawyer allegedly spoke about her in a threatening manner. A judge denied Childers’ request. She and Emmett have two daughters together.

Staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-11-01/randall-emmett-sued-for-race-discrimination-hostile-workplace-martin-gblae Former assistant sues Randall Emmett for race discrimination

Sarah Ridley

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