"My daughter couldn't even go to swim class without us being trailed by people looking for answers," Dwyane Wade alleges

By Robyn Merrett
June 04, 2020 08:35 PM
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Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade
LAURENT BENHAMOU/SIPA/Shutterstock

Dwyane Wade is speaking out in defense of his wife Gabrielle Union, sharing startling experiences the family allegedly endured following the actress' departure from America's Got Talent last November.

"When these negotiations started my house started being watched and my family started being followed," Wade, 38, wrote on Twitter Thursday in response to the news that Union had filed a discrimination complaint against NBC Universal, AGT creator Simon Cowell, Fremantle and Syco.

A spokesperson for NBC did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

"My daughter couldn't even go to swim class without us being trailed by people looking for answers. Well y'all have the answers and y'all still don't wanna listen to them," Wade continued.

Wade and Union, who tied the knot in 2014, share 1-year-old daughter Kaavia James. Wade is also dad to daughter Zaya, 13, and sons Zaire, 18, and Xavier, 6.

Wade also addressed AGT and NBCUniversal's alleged treatment of his wife and the company's response to her experience tweeting, "Y'all have deemed her a liar after months of trying to inform y'all of the issues in the work place and also make sure other employees of color that comes after her won't have the same experiences."

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"Instead of looking thru the lens of someone who has been an advocate for the black and brown community, for women and for rape victims," Wade continued.

"So instead of making sure your work environment is a better place for everyone. Y'all have decided that she what? Made it all up because she lost a job? She's a black woman in Hollywood she has lost out on many jobs," Wade added.

On Thursday, Union filed a complaint — through attorney Bryan Freedman — against the media conglomerate, Cowell, Fremantle and Syco.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Union's attorney Bryan Freedman said: "Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially offensive conduct during the taping of America’s Got Talent, NBC did not 'stand' with her in 'outrage at acts of racism.' Instead, NBC did not care enough to either promptly investigate Ms. Union’s complaints or even ask HR to get involved."

"Rather, NBC stood against her and directed its 'outrage' at Ms. Union for whistleblowing about the racially offensive conduct she experienced while working for NBC on America’s Got Talent," he said.

He then referred to NBC's recent support of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed.

"In sharp contrast to NBC’s recent statement on race, what was truly an 'outrage' was the fact that Paul Telegdy, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, actually threatened Ms. Union in an attempt to silence her from telling the truth about racist actions that took place on the show," Freedman said. "There is no place for this type of racial bullying in the workplace, and it is going to take more than a Tweet from NBC to demonstrate that NBC intends to create an environment free from racism."

In a statement to PEOPLE, NBC responded to Union's complaint. "The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue," the network said. "We took Ms. Union's concerns seriously, and engaged an outside investigator who found an overarching culture of diversity on the show. NBCUniversal remains committed to creating an inclusive and supportive working environment where people of all backgrounds are treated with respect."

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union with daughters Zaya and Kaavia
Gabrielle Union/instagram

In the complaint obtained by PEOPLE, Union, 47, alleges she was terminated from the show after just one season due to "her refusal to remain silent in the face of a toxic culture at AGT that included racist jokes, racist performances, sexual orientation discrimination, and excessive focus on female judges' appearances, including race-related comments."

In her complaint, Union specifically addresses her experiences alleging that on her first day on AGT "she was forced to request that Cowell smoke cigarettes outside in accordance with California law."

Union is severely allergic to cigarette smoke. However, Cowell allegedly "disregarded Union's request and continued to smoke cigarettes indoors."

She also alleges in her complaint that NBC, Fremantle and Syco allowed a contestant to "perform in blackface hands" despite Cowell and his production team expressing "concerns that the act was racist."

Furthermore, Union alleges that Cowell rejected a 10-year-old black contestant named Dylan Gilmer, saying he was not an act "America can get behind."

Union says in the complaint that as a black woman she was "singled out due to her physical appearance and discriminated against by NBC due to the fact that her hair did not fit within the white image that NBC apparently sought to convey to the AGT audience."

Union says in the complaint that she brought her grievances to the company but "instead of taking the appropriate actions and investigating these issues, Union was labeled as difficult."

Union also raised a new accusation that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy threatened her over speaking out against racism on set.

Union's lawsuit comes after she broke her silence on AGT's "toxic work environment" late last month.

"I signed up for the experience of being a part of a show that hails itself as the biggest stage in the world. Super diverse, and one about giving people an opportunity to shine where they otherwise probably wouldn't," Union said to Variety. "What could go wrong?"

Last November, it was confirmed that new judges Union and Julianne Hough, 31, would not be returning for AGT's 15th season.

Days later, a report by Variety claimed that Union had expressed concerns over alleged racial insensitivity on set, and that both women said they were subjected to "excessive notes" on their physical appearance. (In a statement at the time, Hough denied that she had a negative experience on the show and said she was "happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.")

RELATED: Sharon Osbourne Speaks Out About Her Own Experience on 'AGT' Following Gabrielle Union's Departure

Union and Hough's exits from the show last year launched an internal investigation of NBC and production companies Fremantle and Syco Entertainment. In a previous statement to PEOPLE, Fremantle, Syco and NBC said:

"We have a shared passion to make America's Got Talent a positive, inclusive and diverse show that is open to all individuals from any country or background. We are proud and grateful that our contestants and audiences support our ongoing mission, which is represented in the incredible people who participate in the show each year. We have heard from contestants and talent alike that their experience on AGT has had a positive impact on their lives. When we heard Ms. Union had concerns about her time on the show, we took them extremely seriously."

"NBC, Fremantle and Syco immediately engaged an outside investigator who conducted more than 30 interviews to review the issues raised by Ms. Union. While the investigation has demonstrated an overall culture of diversity, it has also highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved."

"Through the investigation process, it has been revealed that no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union's appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time. The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract."

"NBC, Fremantle and Syco share Ms. Union's dedication to diversity and inclusion in the industry. We continue to remain committed to having an inclusive environment for everyone associated with the show, and to upholding AGT as one of the most diverse programs on television."