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Anthony Morina Files Legal Response to Briana Thomas Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Over ‘The Young And The Restless’ Firing

Earlier this month, Anthony Morina (executive producer, "The Young and the Restless") filed a legal response to the wrongful termination lawsuit brought against him by Briana Thomas.

Anthony Morina Files Legal Response to Briana Thomas Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Over ‘The Young And The Restless’ Firing

Earlier this month, Anthony Morina (executive producer, "The Young and the Restless") filed a legal response to the wrongful termination lawsuit brought against him by Briana Thomas.

Similar to Sony Pictures Television Inc. and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. in December, “The Young and the Restless” executive producer Anthony Morina earlier this month formally submitted his legal response to a lawsuit filed by former background actress Briana Thomas who appeared on “The Young and the Restless” in 2018 and 2019 as a barista.

Sony Pictures Television, The Young and the Restless, Y&R, Young & Restless
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

Thomas is suing Morina, Sony and CBS, for wrongful termination. She alleges that during the time Morina had been the show’s supervising producer he sexually harassed her on a number of occasions, stating he would cozy up to her and give her compliments about her looks, often telling her she could “really be something” on the show. After rebuffing him and his advances, including his offer of a “private acting lesson,” Thomas alleges she was subsequently fired from the show.

As Sony did before him, Morina’s filing notes he is “answering for himself and no others,” in response to the “unverified” Complaint for Damages (“Complaint”) filed by Plaintiff Briana Thomas (“Plaintiff”). Morina (“Defendant”) provided three instances for General Denial, including: 

  1. Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 431.30(d), Defendant denies, generally and specifically, each and every allegation contained in Plaintiff’s Complaint and each and every cause of action therein. 
  2. Defendant further denies that Plaintiff has sustained any injury, damage or loss by reason of any act or omission on the part of Defendant, and specifically denies that Plaintiff suffered any of the damages alleged in the Complaint.
  3. Defendant further denies that Plaintiff is entitled to any relief against Defendant on any ground whatsoever, and denies that Plaintiff is entitled to damages against Defendant in any amount.

For his Affirmative and Other Defenses statement, Morina’s filing states, “Having fully answered the allegations in the Complaint, Defendant asserts the following additional affirmative and other defenses. In so doing, Defendant does not allege or admit that he has the burden of proof and/or persuasion with respect to any of these matters.”

There are 10 Affirmative Defenses or set of facts that Morina uses as he seeks to dismiss the claims brought against him by Thomas in her civil suit.

  1. Failure to State a Claim
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action therein, fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause, or causes, of action against Defendant.
  2. Statute of Limitations
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action therein, is barred by the applicable statute(s) of limitations, including, without limitation, California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 335.1, 337, 338, 339, 340, California Civil Code Sections 52(b)(2), California Government Code Sections 12960(d) and 12965(b), and California Business and Professions Code Section 17208.
  3. Laches/Waiver/Estoppel/Unclean Hands
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action therein, is barred by the equitable doctrines of laches, waiver, estoppel, and unclean hands.
  4. Preemption: Collective Bargaining Agreement
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action therein, is barred because the grievance and arbitration provisions of a collective bargaining agreement constitute the exclusive procedure for resolution of some or all of the claims alleged in the Complaint.
  5. Failure to Exhaust: Collective Bargaining Agreement
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action therein, is barred because Plaintiff’s exclusive remedy for some or all of the wrongs alleged in the Complaint are contained in the collective bargaining agreement, which Plaintiff failed to exhaust.
  6. No Individual Liability
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action therein, is barred against Defendant because he was not Plaintiff’s employer, and any actions taken toward Plaintiff were within Defendant’s job duties, Defendant’s managerial discretion, and the scope of personnel management.
  7. Lack of Employment Relationship
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action contained therein, fails to state any cause of action against Defendant because he was not Plaintiff’s employer as a matter of fact or law, including without limitation the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Government Code Sections 12900 et seq.
  8. No Penalties
    • The Complaint, and each and every cause of action therein, is barred in whole or in part, on the grounds that Plaintiff is not entitled to general and other penalties under the California Labor Code, including, but not limited to, waiting time penalties under California Labor Code Section 203. With respect to waiting time penalties under California Labor Code Section 203, Plaintiff was paid all wages owed at termination, and regardless, any alleged failure to pay all wages due at termination was not willful and/or there existed a good faith dispute as to the amount of compensation owed, if any, at the time of termination.
  9. Failure to Mitigate 
    • While Defendant denies that Plaintiff has been damaged in any way, if it should be determined that Plaintiff has suffered legally recognizable damages, such damages must be reduced or denied in their entirety to the extent that Plaintiff has failed to take reasonable action to mitigate or minimize Plaintiff’s alleged damages.
  10.  Additional Affirmative Defenses
    • Defendant presently has insufficient knowledge or information upon which to form a belief as to whether it may have additional, as yet unstated, affirmative defenses available. Defendant reserves the right to assert additional affirmative defenses in the event discovery indicates that it would be appropriate.

Morina is asking for judgment as follows:

  1. That Plaintiff takes nothing by way of the Complaint; 
  2. That the Complaint be dismissed with prejudice and judgment entered in favor of Defendant; 
  3. That Defendant be awarded his costs of suit; 
  4. That Defendant be awarded attorneys’ fees pursuant to statute and/or contract; and 
  5. For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

Representing Morina is lead attorney Marissa Franco of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. The firm is also representing Sony and CBS.

In her 22-page lawsuit filed in August 2021, Thomas claims that Morina once complained about having to attend sexual harassment training sessions in the wake of CBS’ investigation into sexual harassment allegations 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.”

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 reported. “I am doing you a favor. I like you. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Representing Thomas in her lawsuit is Carney Shegerian of Shegerian & Associates, the same lawyer who filed a lawsuit accusing Mike Richards, the now former host and executive producer of “Jeopardy!” 

While he was overseeing things at “The Price is Right,” Richards was accused of discriminating against a pregnant model. He denied the allegations.

Thomas is seeking several forms of damages, including “unpaid wages, premium pay and statutory penalties” and fees.

On February 15, a hearing was held to show cause for dismissal of any unserved defendants. Thomas filed requesting defendant GEP Cenex, LLC be dismissed “without prejudice.” The court granted the request without waiving court fees or other costs.

A jury trial has been set for March 2023.