‘America’s Got Talent’: Jay Leno Finally Comments on Gabrielle Union’s Firing

Fans of Gabrielle Union are still reeling from the announcement that she and Julianne Hough will not be returning next season as judges on America’s Got Talent. Since the news broke, reports have been coming out that the women did not leave the show on their own volition, but instead were fired.

The firing of Union has particularly caused fans to be up in arms because of the reason that she was let go.

America's Got Talent
Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Jay Leno, Julianne Hough, Simon Cowell | Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Why did Gabrielle Union get fired?

According to a report from Variety, Union’s firing stemmed from her speaking out against another celebrity.

In April, Jay Leno came to NBCUniversal to be a guest judge on the show.

While taping a segment, Leno made a joke about a painting of producer and judge Simon Cowell’s dogs. He claimed that the animals looked like something you would find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant,” according to people who were present at the taping.

After hearing the joke, Union asked producers to report the incident to human resources but ultimately nothing was ever done other than Leno’s line being cut from the show.

This wasn’t the only instance where Union was made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace. According to the same report, Union was also told many times that her hairstyles were” too black” for the show.

Sag-AFTRA investigation

After the Variety story broke, the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced that they would investigate the incident.

“We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously,” a spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA said in a statement. “We immediately reached out to Ms. Union’s representatives when these reports came to light. It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member.”

“For certain matters, our investigation and enforcement needs to happen independently and we are prepared to handle this issue accordingly, as warranted.

“Our enforcement action is usually handled confidentially to protect the member involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the member requests that we do so,” the statement continued.

“While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now.”

NBC and Fremantle claimed that Hough and Union’s exits were part of the normal cycling of judges.

“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate,” the network said in a statement obtained by Entertainment Tonight.

Jay Leno responds to the allegations

If Union was fired because of her comments about Leno, the former talk show host doesn’t harbor any hard feelings towards her.

“I love Gabrielle Union. She’s a great girl,” Leno said a video obtained by TMZ. “I really enjoyed working with her.”

“I don’t know [if she was treated fairly],” he added. “She’s a great girl.