As first reported by Soap Central in February 2015, Rowell has alleged that CBS, Bell Dramatic Serial Company, and Sony, the distributor of Y&R and Days of our Lives, actively engaged in discrimination against her. The lawsuit was stalled in November 2015 when a judge dismissed Rowell's complaint, but the door was left open for Rowell to amend her complaint. Rowell did just that and in an amended complaint claimed that when she expressed interest in a role on Days of our Lives, her name was initially left off the audition list.
Rowell's suit against CBS has been dismissed.
"We felt that this case was completely without merit from the beginning and we are pleased with the court’s ruling in our favor today," a CBS spokesperson said following the ruling.
Sony had argued that not casting a particular performer is part of an overall creative decision made by any show and not indicative of any discrimination. Essentially, the company's position is that Rowell cannot force Y&R to hire her if Y&R doesn't want to use Drucilla on the show. The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt, responded that "[T]here is a critical distinction between claims of alleged discrimination and those of alleged retaliation."
As for the DAYS role, Sony asserted that an actor expressing interest in a role is not the same thing as formally applying for a role. Kronstadt disagreed with Sony's position on that as well.
Rowell has been vocal for many years that she was punished for expressing her displeasure with CBS and Sony's lack of diversity behind and in front of the cameras. In 2010, in an interview with Soap Central, Rowell discussed feeling that she was targeted for her push for diversity.
"I know that I was systematically left off of the Emmy ballot for many years, and I know that that was part of the pushback. But I'm not led by trophies -- I'm led by change," Rowell said at the time. "If you back away from something, you can't bring about effective change. You don't walk away from something. People asked me while I was on the show why I would want to stay in such an environment -- 'Why would you want to go back?' This happened the last three years, when I came back. I said, 'First of all, I love my job. I love the character, I love the fans, I love the actual work.' And in a way, it would be easier [...] for producers to just not bring back Victoria Rowell to play Drucilla because it's going to dredge up the reality of what's going on and what the past is. And that's a shame, because this should be talked out. This should be addressed. This should not be a situation where people are burying their heads in the sand. We really should be talking this out. It will totally enhance the show to diversify it, and also to massage what the reticence is about."
This article has been updated to reflect that CBS is no longer a part of Rowell's lawsuit.
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