UPDATE, with Hamilton response Suni Reid, a non-binary performer who appeared in the Broadway, Chicago and Los Angeles productions of Hamilton in both ensemble and principal roles, has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint alleging that their contract was not renewed in retaliation over a request for a gender-neutral dressing room during the L.A. production – a charge Hamilton producers are denying.
“Publicly, Hamilton is a beacon of diversity and appears committed to causes seeking social justice and harmony,” said Reid’s attorneys Lawrence M. Pearson and Lindsay M. Goldbrum of Wigdor LLP in a statement. “Behind the curtain, however, the Company’s management will force out a Black, transgender cast member simply because they stood up for themselves and advocated for a more equitable workplace, and therefore called that public image into question. We look forward to upholding Mx. Reid’s rights and hope this is a wake-up call for the theater industry about the systemic inequities that persist even at its greatest heights.”
According to the complaint, Reid “made a legally protected request” last June seeking access to a gender-neutral dressing room at the Hollywood Pantages theater where Hamilton plays. “Weeks later,” according to the attorneys, “Hamilton suspended the renewal of Mx. Reid’s contract, sidelining them during rehearsals, previews, and finally opening night and beyond.”
But a Hamilton spokesperson said in a statement to Editorials99 that Reid was offered a contract “with terms responsive to their requests,” and that producers provided the actor with financial support, housing and respect.
“Suni Reid was a valued cast member for more than three years,” according to the Hamilton statement. “We offered them a contract to return to Hamilton with terms responsive to their requests. We deny the allegations in the Charge. We have not discriminated or retaliated against Suni. Since the shutdown, our organization has taken care of our community. We have treated Suni with the same respect and consideration as all the company members of Hamilton. Specifically, we have given Suni direct financial support, paid for their health insurance, and paid for their housing. We wish Suni well in their future endeavors.”
Reid retained legal counsel in late July and informed the production of the legal claims of discrimination and retaliation. In September 2021, the production told Reid that their contract would not be renewed. Hamilton, with book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and direction by Thomas Kail, began performances at the Pantages on August 17.
Among the principal Hamilton roles Reid has performed are Aaron Burr, George Washington, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, and Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson.
According to the complaint, the production eventually provided the gender-neutral dressing room after cast member Rory O’Malley (who plays King George) “generously offered to give up his dressing room, but the Company still would not drop its retaliatory animus toward Mx. Reid and rescinded their contract renewal offer altogether.”
Reid also claims that they were subjected to additional instances of discrimination and harassment by some cast members and management, “including incidents in which certain actors physically threatened Mx. Reid or intentionally and repeatedly mis-gendered them.”