Relativity School Was an Anti-Gay ‘Boys’ Club,’ Fired Co-Founder Alleges

Just when it looks like things can’t get worse at Relativity, along comes another headache.

In 2013, when Relativity Media was still a high-flying production company with plans to change the entertainment world, the company announced the launch of Relativity School. The idea was to create a performing arts school that would partner with the studio, which would offer mentoring in exchange for access to a fresh supply of talent.

The school recruited V.P. Boyle, a veteran Broadway audition coach, to serve as chief operating officer and to help develop and run the program. Boyle was fired in 2015. Meanwhile, Relativity Media spiraled into bankruptcy — though the school remained separate from those proceedings.

On Tuesday, Boyle filed a federal discrimination suit against Relativity Media and Relativity Education, alleging that the company displayed anti-gay bias.

The lawsuit names Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaughwho’s reportedly stepped down — as among those who excluded Boyle from decision-making, purportedly due to Boyle’s sexual orientation. The suit also names Glenn Kalison, the president of Relativity School and “a straight, married man,” as a defendant.

Boyle said he was subjected to a hostile work environment at an executive retreat at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“During the entirety of the retreat, he was virtually ignored by Relativity Media’s top male executives (who behaved as if they were part of a colloquial “Boys’ Club”) and during a lunch meal where he dared to try to mingle with those executives; he was ignored and made to feel very uncomfortable,” the lawsuit states.

Boyle also alleged that at a Relativity holiday party, three male executives made fun of him “to such an extent that he was made to feel uncomfortable and out of place and left the party immediately.”

In the suit, Boyle said he was fired in 2015 after a co-worker concocted bogus and anti-gay allegations against him. Boyle stated that he conducted himself professionally, consistent with his years of experience in Broadway theater.

In October, Boyle took a job as creative director at a musical development program at USC.

A Relativity spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Update: A Relativity spokesperson responds: “Relativity Media is not involved in the school in any way. It is owned and run exclusively by Colbeck.”

However, as the suit makes clear, Relativity did own a minority stake in Relativity School at the time of the events discussed in the lawsuit. Promotional materials also billed the program as “the first and only school of its kind created with a major Hollywood studio.”

A source familiar with the situation said that Relativity has since sold its stake in the school to Colbeck Capital, one of Relativity’s major lenders. Kavanaugh has disclaimed ever having any management responsibility for the school, and apparently visited the campus — which is off-site — only once.

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