Husam Sam Asi, a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has sued the media organisation, on Wednesday. He alleges that he was sexually harassed on multiple occasions, but no action was taken on his complaints.
According to the lawsuit acquired by Silverscreen India, a HFPA board member had reportedly grabbed Asi’s behind on more than one occasion in front of several media members at different press conferences back in 2018. She had also allegedly invited Asi to her house to teach him how to have “good sex.”
Another incident also involved a HFPA member, who allegedly grabbed Asi and kissed him during another board member’s birthday party. Yet another member reportedly offered to show Asi videos of sexual intercourse between her and her boyfriend, as a form of instruction.
The lawsuit notes that none of these actions were done with Asi’s consent.
“No investigation was conducted by HFPA and there were no adverse consequences to the individual who groped Dr Asi,” the suit reads, adding that HFPA’s lack of action created a hostile environment.
Asi further accuses the organisation of “weaponising” false sexual harassment allegations in retaliation for his attempts to hold the leadership accountable.
Asi’s association with the HFPA dates back to 2010. The lawsuit says that Asi has faced racial comments since he first applied for his membership. It adds that Asi was referred to as a “terrorist” multiple times by HFPA’s lead executives.
Asi further claims that he did not get a job on the Golden Globes website, or any committee position, for seven years even though he was well-qualified. Upon questioning the then HFPA president, Asi was told that the “members hated him because he was an ‘angry Arab’.”
While a complaint was filed about the “terrorist” remark in the summer of 2021, Asi reported the “angry Arab” comment to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Director as recently as December 2021.
But, the HFPA reportedly refused to investigate the claims and told Asi that bringing up such matters could potentially hurt the organisation.
The lawsuit says that in failing to take action, or conduct investigation into Asi’s complaints, the HFPA has breached its own bylaws and Code of Conduct.
The Golden Globes curator earlier came under fire for its lack of diverse membership after an LA Times investigation revealed in February 2021 that there were no Black members among the 87 HFPA members.
Consequently, major studios distanced themselves from the association in 2021. The long-time broadcasting partner of Golden Globes, NBC, also announced it would not air the awards. Following growing criticisms, actor Tom Cruise returned his three Golden Globe awards, while stars like Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo asked others in Hollywood to “step back” from the HFPA.
Although the HFPA went ahead and conducted the 2022 edition of the Golden Globes, the organisation was given a cold shoulder by the studios that did not acknowledge their nominations or wins. Moreover, the event was conducted without any audience or broadcasting partner.