Judith Sheindlin
Source: Getty Images

Allegations of a Toxic Workplace Plagued 'Judge Judy' for Years


Nov. 4 2021, Published 3:42 p.m. ET

Over the last quarter-century that she has been working in television, Judith Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, has carved her own lane and become the blueprint for any and all contemporaries working in the legal field on cable television today. Although her namesake program Judge Judy may have finally come to an end, it's far from the end of the line for Judy, who is now hosting the Amazon-backed Judy Justice following the same relative format that the other show did.

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For however beloved Judge Judy was over the nearly three decades it was on the air, the show had a lot of problems too. Namely, there were repeated allegations of toxicity, racism, and other unscrupulous actions perpetrated by some of the most important people running the show over the years. So, what do we know about the toxic workplace that Judge Judy was alleged to have been? Keep reading for all of the details.

Judith Sheindlin
Source: Getty Images
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There are worries that Judy's new show will perpetuate the same toxic workplace culture that 'Judge Judy' reportedly did.

In an interview with Business Insider, a group of former employees of Judge Judy described what the outlet called "an unrelenting high-pressure environment behind the scenes at the show." They insinuated that Judy did not keep racism, sexual harassment, and general abuse at bay while hosting the show and continued to empower those who were the cause of it. Furthermore, it was noted that these issues have been ongoing and documented in both legal trials and the media for the better part of the last two decades.

Although Judy herself was not accused of perpetrating those actions, the former employees claimed that she was aware of what was going on and did nothing to stop it. The Insider report on the issue shared that the show's long-standing executive producer and director Randy Douthit was accused on multiple occasions of making inappropriate comments to female staffers, sexually harassing employees, and making sure that junior producers didn't bring many Black litigants to appear on the show.

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However, Randy wasn't the only person accused of causing problems on the Judge Judy set. The show's supervising producer Victoria Jenest as well as its co-executive producer Amy Freisleben were also accused of pitting staffers against one another, threatening people's jobs frequently, drinking on the set, and having contempt for those who appeared on the show.

Despite these issues, the trio remained employed with Judge Judy and have reprised their roles on Judy's new Amazon show.

Judith Sheindlin
Source: Getty Images
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Judy, her representatives, and Randy have all hit back against the negative claims made about the show.

In another statement, per Insider, Judy addressed the claims that she was not fully present and aware as the show's leader, but did not mention the accusations against Randy, Victoria, or Amy.

"To author a piece which speculates that I 'was untouchable,' 'don't care how the show gets made,' 'that I don't trust anyone,' 'didn't like cases involving dogs, dog bites or strippers,' 'by and large didn't interact with staffers,' 'wasn't worried about the coronavirus,' is appalling," Judy said.

A spokesperson for the television judge added that "Seventy-five percent of the staff and crew from Judge Judy now works at Judy Justice. The majority of those individuals have been with Judge Sheindlin, on average, from a decade to her entire 25 year run. That's a rarity, especially in the television industry. It happens because there is a positive work environment where there is mutual respect."

On the other side of things, Randy's attorneys insisted that "Mr. Douthit categorically denies that he ever engaged in any sexual harassment, racism or any other abusive conduct towards members of the show's production or its participants." They added that, "Mr. Douthit has always fostered a supportive, productive, safe and inclusive work environment for everyone involved in the show."

Neither Amy, Victoria, nor their representatives have spoken out about the accusations against them as of this writing.

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