Things were apparently less than friendly behind the scenes of Friends, according to a sexual-harassment lawsuit filed by a former writing assistant against the show’s production company, its studio and some of its writers.
The case of Amaani Lyle has been partially reinstated by a California appeals court, after it was thrown out by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in 2002, according to documents published on the Smoking Gun Web site.
The revival of Lyle’s legal action comes just as the mega-popular show races to its May 6 finale after a 10-year run.
As detailed in Lyle’s papers, she claims she was “constantly exposed” to male writers allegedly discussing in graphic detail their fantasies about having sex with the show’s female stars, questioning David Schwimmer’s sexuality and suggesting that Matt LeBlanc’s Joey character be turned into a serial rapist.
“I would have to listen to comments about the sexual conduct many of the writers would like to do with Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston,” says Lyle in her complaint, which also states that she was often left too mortified to speak.
Lyle claims she was also insulted because she had previously worked at Nickelodeon, says the suit, which also says of her employers: “They would make jokes about whether Courteney Cox was competently sexually servicing her boyfriend at the time, David Arquette.”
Lyle’s complaint additionally claims that the writers “figured Cox was barren because of her weight” and “would make jokes about David Schwimmer being gay.”
The appeals court reportedly refused to reinstate Lyle’s claim that she was fired because she is black and a woman.
Lyle’s lawyer, Mark Weidmann, tells the New York Post that his client, now serving in the Air Force, was “very happy” the suit had been reinstated. Besides the writers Greg Malins, Adam Chase and Andrew Reich, the suit also names as defendants Bright, Kauffman, Crane Productions and Warner Bros. (which, like PEOPLE, is part of Time Warner).
Attorney Adam Levin, representing the writers and Bright, Kauffman, Crane, said talk of sex was necessary to the plot of the comedy. The writers have vehemently denied the racial allegations and many of the sexual allegations, reports the Post.