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Since 1996, fans have had fun watching 'Judge Judy' episodes. However, employees have claimed the fan-fave judge fostered a toxic work environment.

Ugly episodes: Is Judge Judy’s TV show a hotbed of racism and abuse?

Judge Judith Sheindlin is known for being very opinionated. Known colloquially as Judge Judy, Sheindlin has no problem pissing people off in the name of justice. Yet, behind the scenes of the popular Judge Judy episodes, could Sheindlin have been more outspoken?

Accusations of sexual harassment, racism, and abuse have taken precedence in light of Sheindlin’s move to Amazon. On November 1st, IMDb TV released the spin-off courtroom series, Judy Justice.

The $25 million revival seems to have given employees – former & otherwise – the courage to speak out. Fans have enjoyed Judge Judy episodes since the show began in 1996. Yet, did Sheindlin encourage a work environment of silence in the name of protecting her brand?

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Lawsuits galore

In a twist of discriminatory irony, former associate producer Karen Needle sued with the claim of having been fired due to. . . ageism? Yes, you read correctly. In November 2007, Needles – sixty-four at the time – claimed she was fired due to age-related reasons.

Needles said she would often lay on the ground between Judge Judy episodes due to excruciating back pain. Yet, she claims her requests for a new chair went unanswered. Needles claimed she was fired after she took time off to help her mother.

In December 2007, former producer Jonathan Sebastien filed a lawsuit with the claim of having experienced & seen racism on set. Sebastien specifically identified executive producer Randy Douthit as a perpetrator of racial discrimination.

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Sebastien claimed Douthit made a point to block Black litigates – people involved in a lawsuit – from Judge Judy episodes. Sebastien went on to say Douthit subjected him to verbal abuse when he tried to fight back. In March 2008, Sebastien was fired.

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Moving to Amazon

While fans were enjoying Judge Judy episodes, the courtroom series was facing an increasing amount of lawsuits. Most of the lawsuits were for legal issues such as breach of contract & fraud. Yet, the discrimination lawsuits stand out as particularly insidious as they speak to a toxic work environment.

Judge Judy episodes may have made people laugh, but claims of discrimination on set are finally raising eyebrows. This may or not may not negatively impact Sheindlin’s new courtroom spinoff, Judy Justice. However, fans have a track record of judging such accusations harshly.

It makes you wonder if the spin-off on Amazon is less about continuing the Judge Judy brand and more about resetting it. In the day of social media, celebrities can’t hide the skeletons in their closet like they used to. What does this mean for everyone’s favorite mean judge?

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From scrutiny to outrage

Since 2020, fans have seen the downfalls of many of their faves. It started with celebrities like Gal Gadot singing a tone-deaf rendition of “Imagine”. Then it was celebrities partying like people weren’t literally losing jobs behind the pandemic.

However, the most shocking was Ellen DeGeneres’ fall from grace. Hollywood loves an open secret, just as Harvey Weinstein. Whispers had floated around the industry for years regarding the toxic work environment of DeGeneres’ popular daytime show.

Yet, no one took notice of these accusations until she was seen buddied up with known war criminal George W. Bush. Claims began feverishly spreading throughout social media of DeGeneres creating & fostering toxic behaviors on set.

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The Future of Judy

Will Sheindlin face the same fate as similar accusations enter the public consciousness? Will fans continue to watch Judge Judy episodes? The main issue for DeGeneres became public scrutiny turned into outrage as more details came out.

Amazon may have paid a high price for Judy Justice. They most likely relied on Judge Judy’s devoted fanbase wanting to see more litigates get scolded on TV. If they can’t rely on the fans to show up, they might act differently.

Most of the lawsuits against Judge Judy & its higher-ups have been dismissed. One can’t definitively say employees or litigates faced discrimination. However, in the court of public law, Sheindlin may finally see her day on the other side of the courtroom.

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