NEW YORK – A former accountant for Rachael Ray's television cooking show has filed a $1 million lawsuit saying he was forced out of his job because he has an eating disorder.
Aaron Ferguson says in papers filed in Manhattan's state Supreme Court that he has suffered from anorexia for about six years. He says his supervisor repeatedly exhibited "hostile behavior" and made "vile," discriminatory and hurtful comments.
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The comments included, "Anorexics are sick in the head," and, "Anorexics should not be able to work," his court papers say.
Ferguson's lawyer, William H. Kaiser, said Thursday, "The things that were said in front of my client were hurtful, and once they knew he had a problem with it they should have stopped."
Ferguson says he repeatedly complained about his supervisor's use, in his presence, of discriminatory language regarding anorexics but their superiors did nothing that improved his situation.
Ferguson said he began working in July 2007 for CBS Television Distributions Inc., a CBS Corp. unit and the producer and owner of the "Rachael Ray" show. After he complained about his treatment, he says, he was forced out in October 2007.
Kaiser said the firing was retaliation: "He was punished for complaining."
The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday, names CBS Corp., CBSTD Inc. and three employees of the show as defendants. Ray is not named as a defendant.
A CBS spokesman referred calls to show spokeswoman Lauren Nowell, who said she could not comment on pending litigation.