The executive producer of “The Young and the Restless” allegedly made repeated advances toward an actress, commented on her body, offered her a “private acting lesson” and had her fired when she rebuffed him, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday.
Actress Briana Thomas filed suit against Sony Pictures Television, which produces the long-running CBS soap opera, and CBS Studios. The complaint alleges that showrunner Anthony “Tony” Morina took an interest in Thomas when she appeared in a background role as a barista in 2018 and 2019.
According to the complaint, he would often leer at her, get close to her, and compliment her looks, telling her she could “really be something” on the show. In one poolside scene, he allegedly tried to get her to remove her sarong so that he could see her in a bikini.
“It’s a tough industry to break into, unless you know someone who can help you,” he said, while touching her waist and playing with her bikini strings, according to the suit. “Let’s start with a private session and see if we can get you a little more comfortable.”
The suit comes as Sony Pictures Television is dealing with fallout from its selection of Mike Richards as the new host of “Jeopardy!” Richards has apologized in recent days for misogynistic and stereotypical comments he made on a podcast, which were unearthed by The Ringer.
Thomas’ attorney, Carney Shegerian, also filed the lawsuit that accused Richards of discriminating against a pregnant model while he was a producer on “The Price Is Right.” Richards has denied misconduct in that case.
Thomas alleges that Morina continued to harass her and make sexual advances through 2018 and 2019. According to the suit, he also complained about having to attend sexual harassment training, saying the seminars were “bullshit” and that some “bitches” “had their panties in a bunch” and “didn’t know how to take a compliment.”
Morina also allegedly referred disparagingly to a Black actress with short hair, saying she “has a hot body, but it is too bad her head looked like a Chia Pet.”
On another occasion, Morina allegedly cornered Thomas in a stairwell, asked her if she lived alone, and asked again if she wanted private lessons. She was more forceful in her rejection than she had previously been, prompting Morina to ask if she knew what she was doing, according to the suit. She took that as a threat.
Subsequently, Morina would yell at her on set, saying she was “just an extra,” according to the complaint.
“I’m the reason why you have a job,” he allegedly said. “I am doing you a favor. I like you. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Thomas was later fired.
CBS and Sony Pictures Television each declined to comment.