Dr. Ian Smith has filed an “unlawful discrimination” complaint against ViacomCBS and Dr. Phil’s Stage 29 Productions in relation to being fired as sole host of the CBS show The Doctors. Smith, who first joined the health advice talk show in 2014 as co-host before becoming the single host in September 2020, claims he voiced concerns about racial discrimination issues and was subsequently terminated.
Specific grievances Dr. Smith had that are listed in the complaint are:
African Americans hosts were on fewer shows than white hosts.
African American hosts were paid less than white hosts.
African American hosts were not in as many integration segments as white hosts. An African American associate producer told Dr. Rachel [Ross] that the Companies were asking for white only talent for integration segments, which explains the lack of diversity.
There were not enough African American producers. Out of approximately 24 producers, only one was African American.
The complaint notes that the conversation to have Smith as the single host occurred “in the wake of the civil unrest and protests following the killing of George Floyd.” On January 26, 2021, following his grievances being stated on the record, Smith was informed that he had been terminated as The Doctors host. Dr. Andrew P. Ordon, a white male, replaced Smith as host.
Sound familiar? That’s because Gabrielle Union filed a similar complaint against America’s Got Talent producers, Universal Television, LLC, Fremantle Productions North America, Inc., Simon Cowell and Syco Entertainment Inc. back in June 2020, harassment, discrimination and retaliation when she chose to speak up against the alleged “toxic culture” on the show.
Smith also claims that one of the show’s executive producers Patty Ciano, who he complained to, sexually harassed him with inappropriate comments about his physique and made suggestions to wear “tighter clothes” on camera. When Smith directly informed CBS Entertainment Group president and CEO George Cheeks of the discrimination and retaliation complaints, Cheeks replied that it should’ve “never happened” and that he wanted this to “be investigated ASAP.” However, that never happened—as the complaint reads, “to date, the CBS investigation remains incomplete.”
“The delay in the investigation is striking given how quickly CBS investigated recent allegations that Sharon Osbourne engaged in race discrimination on another CBS daytime talk show called The Talk,” the filing notes, referencing the thorough internal investigation of Osbourne’s alleged racism on the show sparked by a tense exchange with co-host Sheryl Underwood.
“If my client didn’t complain about racism, he would still be the host of The Doctors,” Smith’s lawyer Rick Ostrove said in a statement on Monday. “His repeated complaints are a show of courage,” the Leeds Brown Law, P.C attorney added. “He stuck his neck out to make the industry more inclusive and make the world a better place. We are exceptionally confident that we will prevail in this case and look forward to trial.”
The Root has reached out to representatives for ViacomCBS / The Doctors and Stage 29 Productions and we are awaiting a response.