A former actor and writer for the Second City is suing the local comedy theater, alleging he was discriminated and retaliated against in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 while he performed in the theater’s revue “A Red Line Runs Through It.”
Scott Morehead, who is white, claims he experienced a series of racial slurs from cast member Aasia Bullock, an African American, during the production of “A Red Line Runs Through It” at Second City e.t.c. from April 2016 to January 2017, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.
Morehead claims Second City took no action to resolve the situation when he made several complaints, according to the lawsuit. He was later suspended from the show without an explanation, and then replaced by another actor sometime after September 2016 for the rest of its run.
“The Second City works diligently to ensure a safe and collaborative work environment for all our employees,” owner and CEO of Second City Andrew Alexander said in an emailed statement. “Because this matter is now in the courts, we cannot comment further.”
In the suit, Morehead claims Bullock “embarked upon a campaign of racial harassment toward Morehead,” during which she allegedly called him “White Jesus” and “cracker,” threatened to “slap the s—” out of him, and physically threw her shoulder into his chest during the show.
Bullock also allegedly complained that “A Red Line” was a “white ass show”; stated she “wishes that all white people were dead,” and said Morehead should be shot.
Morehead alleges that Bullock also held up a sign during the show that said, “I hate honkies,” and said backstage that “what the audience doesn’t know is that I meant I hate white people,” according to the lawsuit.
Bullock declined to comment on the lawsuit during a phone call on Tuesday.
When Morehead made a formal complaint of discrimination to the show’s producer, she allegedly promised she would handle the situation but never did so, according to the lawsuit.
Morehead allegedly made several other complaints during the show’s production before he was suspended indefinitely, replaced by another actor for the rest of the show’s run, and then not offered a new acting contract.
In the lawsuit, Morehead seeks unspecified damages from Second City.
The “A Red Line Runs Through it” production was at the center of criticism among cast members last year, when four people in the show’s six-member cast — including Morehead — departed in October.
One of the departing members, Peter Kim, claimed he quit the revue following a prolonged period of racially charged hostility from the audience. The four cast members left the show for different reasons that were “kind of similar,” Kim said at the time.