BET may have a lawsuit on their hands. HipHollywood has learned that they have let go of one of their top executives while she was on … get this … medical leave for breast cancer.
On Wednesday, BET announced that two of their staffers were leaving the company — longtime president Stephen Hill and head of original programming Zola Mashariki — but according to Marshariki, she had no idea she was being terminated.
Apparently she found out when company head honcho Debra Lee made the announcement that Hill was leaving the company.
HipHollywood obtained Marshariki’s company-wide email this morning addressing the matter, and her current health condition.
As many of you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December and have been out of the office and on medical leave since my first surgery on February 6. I just had another surgery last week and it is a painful recovery for me. It has also been hard on my children.
Thank you all for your kind words and support while I have been out. I miss you too!
I heard yesterday that Stephen was leaving BET. I’m concerned that there was a reference to me, as Stephen’s departure is a separate issue from my status at the company.
Here are the facts: I am on medical leave. My job is protected by the Family Medical Leave Act and related statutes (FMLA) and I have a contract in place. Viacom/BET are aware that I am scheduled to return on April 11 and that my medical leave may need to be extended depending on the progress of my recovery.
Bob Bakish has said our company values should be honesty, empathy and bravery. I agree with this wholeheartedly and our team has embodied this over the 2 years we have worked together. Without question, including me in Stephen’s departure announcement in not in keeping with those values.
I am continuing to focus on improving my health. I have faith in the Viacom/BET leadership and know they will fix this. I have a long history in Hollywood and am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received across the entire industry during this difficult time.
Our Original Programming team has accomplished a lot in a short time and the filmmakers and community are excited to work with us again. There is so much more to do.
All my best, Zola
A BET source confirmed that Marshiriki was let go, but the company is not claiming any wrongdoing. “These claims misrepresent the facts and are without merit,” the a rep told Variety. “We strongly deny any allegation of wrongdoing.”
Mashariki, as you can imagine, has lawyered up.