Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions et al.: Lawsuit Threatening Expansion of Sexual Harassment Codes

Category: Free Speech

FIRE joined a large coalition in filing an amicus brief on behalf of Warner Brothers Television Productions et al., who successfully urged the California Supreme Court to unanimously reverse a state appellate court decision could have had a profoundly chilling implications for free speech. In this case, Plaintiff Amaani Lyle, who was briefly a writer’s assistant for the popular sitcom Friends, alleged that the frequent sexual banter of the show’s male and female writers subjected her to harassment as they discussed ideas and developed storylines and scripts. While admitting that she was not the target of any of the comments, Lyle claimed that some of the comments were generally derogatory towards women and therefore created a “hostile environment.” The amicus brief, written for the national coalition by attorney Frederic D. Cohen of Horvitz & Levy LLP in Encino, California, argued that “communicative workplaces,” such as writers’ offices and universities, depend on free-wheeling and uninhibited dialogue and discussion to function.