Two former members of the Love Island USA crew are accusing show producers of engaging in a variety of abusive practices. In the lawsuit acquired by People, ex-producers Jasmine Crestwell and Alex Rinks claim ITV and NBCUniversal mistreated contestants and violated California labor laws.
Among the charges leveled at their former employers is Jasmine and Alex’s assertion that executive producers, “pressured female Islanders to engage in sexual relationships without regard for their personal preferences or genuine consent,” People quotes from the lawsuit, which adds that the executive producers “were flippant with the concept of sexual consent.”
A spin-off of the popular British Love Island, the American version debuted on CBS and now airs on streamer Peacock. According to the lawsuit, UK producers were brought in to bolster ratings on the American version despite those crew members allegedly having a history of “racism and abusive practices” that negatively affected contestants’ mental health, People reports.
Behind the scenes, producers allegedly “openly commented on video feeds of female Islanders showering and having sex, creating a deeply uncomfortable work environment for women on set,” People reports.
The lawsuit also claims that producers manipulated the outcome of the show by impeding Season 4 contestant Sereniti Springs’ “ability to forge connections with male cast members, thus sabotaging her chances on the show.”
(To win, contestants must be coupled up; single contestants are eliminated from the show.)
Per the lawsuit, when Jasmine complained to executive producer Sophie Bush about how Sereniti, one of the few women of color on the show, was being treated, Sophie allegedly responded, “We are protecting her because we know none of the boys on the show like her, and we would hate to see her get rejected.”
Sereniti was the sixth contestant eliminated during her season.
For contestants who did stick around, they were spending their time in “unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the show’s supposedly luxe ‘villa’ — in reality, a ramshackle, dilapidated ranch with inadequate plumbing and inoperable bathrooms,” according to the lawsuit.
The villa was under construction during the course of production and contestants were “restricted to specific portable toilets connected to their rooms,” People quotes from the lawsuit.
Jasmine and Alex then claim in their lawsuit that they were terminated after voicing their concerns about the treatment and safety of contestants and allege their firings violated California law which prohibits “retaliation against employees who make legally protected complaints of discrimination and OSHA violations.”
NBCUniversal did not comment on the lawsuit but ITV America did release a statement to People refuting the claims.
“This is a frivolous attack at an opportunistic moment, timed to the Season 5 debut, made by two former employees who were terminated for cause, purely in relation to their job performance,” the statement reads. “These characterizations are false. ‘Love Island USA’s commitment to diversity and proven track record speaks for itself. We categorically deny the allegations and look forward to defending against these claims in a court of law.”
The fifth season of ‘Love Island USA’ is currently airing on Peacock.