MAJOR DRAMA! Zola Mashariki To Sue Over Firing Speculation; Stephen Hill Fired For HR Complaints!
This transition of leadership currently taking place at BET is turning out to be a lot more interesting as new details and developments arise. Days after the news of Stephen Hill stepping down as President of Programming, it seems that there’s a lot more to this management shake up, a lot more than what we see on the surface.
In addition to the news of Hill’s departure from BET, Debra Lee also mentioned that Zola Mashariki would be stepping down as well. Apparently this was also news to Mashariki as well. Sources refuted this news, claiming that she was still under contract.
Things are getting messy up at BET. Zola received this news while currently on medical leave undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
via Page Six: “Debra wanted it to be perceived that the transition was a part of Viacom’s restructure, so she included Mashariki in the exit story in an effort to protect Stephen, who was ousted. [Viacom] wanted him out,” a source said.
Hill, president of programming, was employed at BET for 18 years. Mashariki took medical leave earlier this year and was baffled to read she was stepping down from her role as EVP head of original programming. “She was receiving calls and she had no idea what people were talking about because she never accepted any kind of deal nor was she told to leave,” the source said.
A network insider, however, insisted Mashariki was fired before taking medical leave. “She was terminated as a result of her own performance prior to taking medical leave. They then allowed her to keep her contract, so she was able to keep her salary and benefits after being diagnosed. She is definitely terminated,” the insider said.
Mashariki has responded to this story with memo of her own. She reassures BET staff that as she still under contract, her intentions are for her to return work soon.
“I heard yesterday that Stephen was leaving BET. I’m concerned that there was a reference to me, as Stephen’s departure is a separate issue from my status at the company. Here are the facts: I am on medical leave. My job is protected by the Family Medical Leave Act and related statutes (FMLA) and I have a contract in place. Viacom/BET are aware that I am scheduled to return on April 11 and that my medical leave may need to be extended depending on the progress of my recovery,” she wrote. “Bob Bakish has said our company values should be honesty, empathy and bravery. I agree with this wholeheartedly and our team has embodied this over the 2 years we have worked together. Without question, including me in Stephen’s departure announcement is not in keeping with those values. I am continuing to focus on improving my health. I have faith in the Viacom/BET leadership and know they will fix this. I have a long history in Hollywood and am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received across the entire industry during this difficult time. Our Original Programming team has accomplished a lot in a short time and the filmmakers and community are excited to work with us again. There is so much more to do.”
This is where situation get messy.
Apparently Debra Lee is mortified and embarrassed about how all of this is going down. Sources claim that Lee’s days at BET were “numbered”, as she was gunning for position in former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s camp. However, since she didn’t win, that kind of ruined plans for Lee.
“Debra’s really embarrassed and was like it would make her look bad if they put out a retraction. They even told Zola’s lawyer, ‘What if we offered her a dream exit package to save face because it’s going to be hard to get Debra to put out a new statement. Can we find a middle ground?’”
As for Stephen Hill’s departure, it turns out that it wasn’t on the best of terms. Hill was a HR nightmare it seems. His meddling in Mashariki’s medical files is what led to his firing.
Insiders at BET maintain Mashariki was let go because of performance issues that predated her claims of discrimination and retaliation — as well as her notification to Viacom of her need for medical leave. Viacom is said to have conducted what a comprehensive investigation into Mashariki’s claims and found no evidence to support them.
As for Hill’s dismissal, sources note Viacom was notified that he may have attempted to access Mashariki’s medical files and questioned the validity of her breast cancer diagnosis — and purportedly addressed the matter in a staff meeting. The matter escalated to Bakish, who made the decision to dismiss Hill from his post as president of programming.
This was said of Stephen Hill. “Apparently, Stephen had many HR issues and pending lawsuits — from harassment to creating a hostile work environment to garden variety discrimination and intimidation complaints. Tons of complainants against him.”
BET get it together because this is a horrible look