It’s perfectly legal for things to get sophomorically crude in a sitcom writers’ room, so says the California Supreme Court, which on Thursday jettisoned a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Warner Bros. Television by a former writers’ assistant on the hit comedy Friends.
Judge Marvin Baxter writes that while there was often lewd language in the workplace on the show, “the record discloses that most of the sexually coarse and vulgar language at issue did not involve and was not aimed at plaintiff or other women in the workplace.”
The suit filed by Amaanu Lyle alleges that six years ago she was forced to deal with harassment, basing that claim on the sexually charged language that was often used in the writers’ room. She filed the suit after she was let go from her position, allegedly for problems with her typing and transcription.
The judgment also points out that Lyle had been “forewarned” that she would be in the presence of “sexual jokes and discussions about sex” before she was hired. Among her complaints were male writers talking about their sexual fantasies involving the female stars of the show and writers giving graphic depictions of their own sexual experiences.
But the court’s ruling points out that such discussion was in an effort to come up with storylines and jokes for a show that “revolved around a group of young, sexually active adults, featured adult-oriented sexual humor, and typically relied on sexual and anatomical language, innuendo, wordplay and physical gestures to convey its humor.”