Originally created 04/24/04

Racial, sexual harassment suit by ex-'Friends' staffer reinstated



LOS ANGELES -- An appeals court reinstated a sexual and racial harassment lawsuit filed by a woman who says she was subjected to offensive comments while working for the sitcom "Friends."

Amaani Lyle, who worked as a writer's assistant for the show in 1999, sued Warner Bros. Television Productions and three writers for the program, saying they constantly joked about women and sex, and often ridiculed and mocked black people.

The defendants had argued that vulgar comments, gestures and jokes were a regular part of creating a program about sexually active young people, and in 2002 a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed Lyle's suit.

But on Wednesday the 2nd District Court of Appeal reinstated it in part, ruling that the defense's position was not strong enough to warrant a dismissal.

The panel refused to reinstate Lyle's claim that she was fired because she is black and a woman, and that there was retaliation because she complained about the dearth of black characters on the program.

Attorney Adam Levin, representing the defendants, said the ruling may be appealed to the state Supreme Court because it could have a "chilling effect" on other media.