Zola Mashariki, Executive Vice President, Head of Original Programming, BET Networks (Photo©Eric Charbonneau/BEImages
all rights reserved)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former female executive with Black Entertainment Television has filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the channel and its parent company, Viacom.

Zola Mashariki claims a discriminatory “old boys’ club” atmosphere led to her firing while she was on disability for breast cancer. Mashariki was an executive vice president who oversaw original programming for the network.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in a Los Angeles federal court alleges that BET, Viacom and its largely male leadership foster a climate in which women are systematically harassed and exploited.

 The lawsuit suit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages for alleged losses including back pay and benefits.

BET referred a request for comment to Viacom, which in a statement denied any allegation of wrongdoing and said the claims are without merit.

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