The California State Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit by a writer’s assistant against the writers and producers of FRIENDS. The assistant charged that the sexually explicit jokes and anecdotes shared among the writers in the writer’s room created a "hostile work environment." (You can read the full text of the decision here)
Because "Friends" was an "adult-oriented comedy show featuring sexual
themes," Lyle should have expected coarse language from writers producing jokes
and scripts for the show, the Supreme Court held in its ruling.
While the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits conduct that creates a
hostile or abusive workplace for women, it does not outlaw "sexually coarse and
vulgar language that merely offends," the high court said.
The case raised questions of how far TV comedy writers can go in pushing the
boundaries of taste in their private joke-writing sessions, with supporters of
the writers and producers arguing that Lyle’s suit infringed on their freedom of
The high court declined to address the free-speech issues raised in the
"We have no occasion to determine whether liability for such language might
infringe on free speech rights," the court held.
The show’s writers claimed Lyle was fired because she was a slow typist who
often missed the jokes she was supposed to transcribe.