“The Young and the Restless” executive producer Anthony Morina is facing allegations of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed Thursday, August 19 in Los Angeles Superior Court against producing studio Sony Pictures Television and CBS Studios, whose network, CBS, airs the top-rated daytime drama series as part of its daytime lineup.
According to Variety, Briana Thomas, a former background actress who appeared on the soap as a barista in 2018 and 2019, alleges that Morina would cozy up to her and give her compliments about her looks, often telling her she could “really be something” on the show. In one instance 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,” Morina is quoted in the lawsuit to have told Thomas as he touched her waist and played with her bikini strings during setup for a poolside scene. “Let’s start with a private session and see if we can get you a little more comfortable,” he allegedly told her.
Representing Thomas in her lawsuit is Carney Shegerian, the same lawyer who filed a lawsuit accusing Mike Richards, the new host of “Jeopardy!” and the game show’s executive producer, during his time running “The Price is Right” of discriminating against a pregnant model. Richards denied the allegations.
In her lawsuit, Thomas claims that Morina once complained about having to attend sexual harassment training sessions in the wake of CBS’ investigation into sexual harassment claims brought against then CEO Les Moonves. Morina reportedly called the training sessions “bullshit” and that some “bitches” had “their panties in a bunch” and “didn’t know how to take a compliment.”
If that wasn’t the worst of it, the suit also claims that Morina once referred 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.”
“I’m the reason why you have a job,” Morina allegedly told Thomas at one point as he offered her “private acting lessons,” Deadline reports. “I am doing you a favor. I like you. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Thomas was later fired and her last listed acting gig on IMDb was an uncredited role as a party guest in the 2018 film “Love Sonia.”
In the lawsuit, Thomas is seeking several forms of damages, including “unpaid wages, premium pay and statutory penalties” and fees.
The 22-page document states, “After spurning his advances for months, Morina began to retaliate against Plaintiff and at one point blew up at her in front of other staff and coworkers. Morina began yelling at Plaintiff and saying she was ‘just an extra’ and there was ‘not going to be a part for [her]’ while cursing and verbally abusing Plaintiff and humiliating her in front of other staff.” It also notes, “Morina also told Plaintiff that he alone decided whether Plaintiff’s presence on ‘Y&R’ continued.”
“After Plaintiff refused his advances again, Morina’s voice got even louder as he spewed more profanities and insults,” the lawsuit further shares. “Plaintiff was shocked, embarrassed, and distraught after the onslaught from Morin. After Plaintiff left work that day, she received an email stating that her employment was terminated and that she was no longer needed on the show.”
Variety notes that at press time CBS nor Sony Pictures Television responded to a request for comment about the lawsuit.