A former producer who worked on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” has filed a complaint against Warner Bros., the show’s production company and five producers, alleging she was sexually harassed on the set of the reality show.
In the complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Becky Steenhoek said that she was repeatedly asked questions about her sex life during production of the 2016 season of “The Bachelorette” featuring JoJo Fletcher. Warner Bros. declined to make anyone available to comment on the allegations.
Steenhoek said five of the show’s executive and cast producers asked her graphic personal questions including, “Is your vagina shaved?,” “Have you ever fondled [testicles] before?” and “Have you ever sat under a shower faucet or touched yourself to masturbate?”
Steenhoek, 31, said in an interview with The Times that she was “raised in a Christian household” and was uncomfortable with the line of questioning. Her colleagues’ personal inquiries would often make her blush, she said, which only intensified their prodding.
“You could visibly tell it was very uncomfortable to me to witness, just because they did make comments like, ‘Oh, Becky’s blushing,’ or ‘Her ears are probably burning,'” Steenhoek told The Times. “It was a bit of a theme that carried on throughout the season … it was a fun time for them to see me get embarrassed.”
In the lawsuit, Steenhoek said that when she turned to cast producer Caitlin Stapleton to complain about the questions, Stapleton told her, “This is the way of the industry and world that we work in.”
“She just told me, ‘Listen, this is just how it is,'” Steenhoek told The Times of her conversation with Stapleton on April 9, 2016. “’These are middle-aged white men. This is locker-room talk. This is their way of showing that they’re trying to bond with you.’”
Within days of complaining to Stapleton, Steenhoek said, she was suddenly excluded from production meetings and relegated to running menial errands for her bosses, including fetching their meals and making sure the food was to their liking.
Then, on April 17, Steenhoek said she was informed by producer Bennett Graebner that she would not be needed for the remainder of the season. When she asked him why she was being fired, he told her it was because she was not being enough of a “bitch,” according to the complaint.
“When I was hired for the job, the reason they told me I was being hired because I did have the morals and they felt I was a good person,” said Steenhoek, who was told her main responsibility during Fletcher’s season was to be “an emotional support system” for the bachelorette. “And then here I am being fired because of that reason.”
She is suing for damages related to sexual harassment and hostile work environment, sex discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination. Warner Bros., which produces “The Bachelor,” is named in the complaint, as is creator Mike Fleiss’ production company NZK Productions. The producers named in the complaint are Elan Gale, Peter Scalettar, Jacqueline Naz Perez, Stapleton and Graebner.
Since being fired from the show, Steenhoek has moved to Texas, where she lives with family and is trying to “work through things” after a dark time.
“It tainted my whole view of the industry,” she said to The Times. “I wasn’t protected. When we sign our paperwork, we’re given a sexual harassment policy that says ‘any unwanted — whether it’s verbal or physical — sexual advances that makes the person feel uncomfortable and is unwelcome, that you’re supposed to report that and it’s not allowed.’ I think it’s an industry-wide problem — these executives are untouchable. If you report it, you get retaliated against, you get fired because then you’re not a team player. If you don’t report it, then it was essentially me not being me. I would have had to sacrifice my values and my morals for something I didn’t think was right, and I’m not gonna do that.”
This article will continue to be updated.
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