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TMZ Founder Harvey Levin Accused of Enabling Sexist Workplace

Bernadette Zilio, a former employee of TMZ and TooFab (a social media website), has filed discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and its parallel California agency. She alleges that Harvey Levin, TMZ founder and company head, fired her after she complained about TMZ’s hostile workplace.

Zilio worked as an on-air host and production assistant for TMZ from 2015 to 2020. She alleges that TMZ was a “boys’ club,” a “bro-fest,” and a “frat house.” TMZ leadership allegedly “belittled and abused” women, and they were “held to different and more stringent standards” than the male employees. Further, male employees allegedly were included in business and social events and provided with more advancement opportunities. Zilio claims that she was “shunned after she first complained, fired after she complained a second time and then threatened if she dared to speak publicly about her experiences.” Zilio says that she first went in 2017 to human resources at Warner Bros, which owns TMZ and TooFab.

In TMZ’s public response to the charges, the company stated that Zilio was fired for performance reasons including “documented incidents of plagiarism and inaccurate reporting.” They further asserted that this complaint is a public attempt to force a settlement from them. TMZ and TooFab have stated they will vigorously defend themselves from the lawsuit. Warner Bros. did not provide a public response to news reports.