Los Angeles (May 27, 2004) – U.S. District Court Federal Judge John F. Walter today threw out all discrimination and retaliation claims brought by former SAG employee Patricia Heisser Metoyer against Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and its current executive John McGuire and former executive Leonard Chassman.
Metoyer served as SAG’s Executive Administrator of Affirmative Action in its Los Angeles office from 1998 until 2001, when the Guild terminated her employment after an audit by PriceWaterhouse Coopers revealed that she had misappropriated more than $30,000 in funds granted to the Guild by the Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund that were earmarked for programs supporting performers with disabilities and aging in primetime television. Finding that the Guild did not discriminate or retaliate against Metoyer, the Court dismissed Metoyer’s federal discrimination and retaliation claims, as he had earlier dismissed her state discrimination and retaliation claims.
“The judge’s ruling today vindicates the Guild from a series of totally unfair and unjustified claims that should never have been brought before the courts in the first place,” said SAG General Counsel David White. “For far too long, SAG has been the target of repeated lawsuits that have no merit, in this case made by an employee who diverted funds to friends and family members that were intended to serve aging and disabled members of this union. Patricia Metoyer took advantage of tens of thousands of SAG members. But today the court put an end to her ability to continue to take money out of the pockets of dues paying actors.”
Following her justified termination, Metoyer filed suit against SAG alleging racial discrimination and retaliation – charges the judge today declared to be fully without merit and not sufficient to even merit a trial of her case by a jury. In granting Summary Judgment, Judge Walter wrote: “In this case, Plaintiff has not presented any direct evidence of discrimination or retaliation, nor does Plaintiff present specific or substantial circumstantial evidence to demonstrate discriminatory intent.”
The Court’s ruling entitles the Guild to now seek reimbursement from Metoyer for legal costs related to her dismissed claims for discrimination and retaliation. The Court declined to reach the merits of Metoyer’s claim for defamation, and remanded it along with the Guild’s counterclaim against Metoyer (for fraud and theft in connection with her handling of IACF grant funds) to the state court, where the Guild will continue to seek recovery of the IACF grant funds misappropriated by Metoyer.