'Little homosexual boy': Faye Dunaway sued by ex-staffer alleging 'demeaning tirades'

Last month, producers of "Tea at Five," a one-woman play that charts the career of Katharine Hepburn, said they terminated their relationship with Dunaway.
Image: Faye Dunaway
Faye Dunaway arrives at the Oscars on at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, 2017.Richard Shotwell / AP file
By Janelle Griffith

Faye Dunaway's former assistant alleges in a lawsuit she called him “a little homosexual boy” and fired him after he complained about being discriminated against for being gay.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court, Michael Rocha said that he started working as an assistant for Dunaway while she was a part of the play "Tea at Five," from which she was fired last month.

Rocha's responsibilities included shopping for the actress, making sure she took her medication, managing her schedule and accompanying her to and from rehearsals for the show in Manhattan.

He worked at Dunaway's Manhattan apartment and was paid $1,500 per week, according to the lawsuit.

Rocha claims in the suit the Oscar-winning actress "regularly and relentlessly" subjected him to "abusive demeaning tirades" and would "inappropriately refer" to his sexual orientation "in an attempt to demean and humiliate him while at work."

On May 2, Dunaway allegedly referred to Rocha and other employees as "little gay people." Later that month she referred to Rocha as “a little homosexual boy,” which he says he has a recording of, according to the court documents.

The lawsuit also names as defendants a general manager and general counsel of "Tea at Five," whom Rocha claims he reported the alleged abuse to. The general manager allegedly told Rocha that any concerns about Dunaway's behavior should be sent to the show's general counsel. Rocha said the general counsel did not respond to an email with his complaints.

Rocha said he received a call on June 12 from the general manager who informed him that Dunaway "is not comfortable with you anymore." Rocha said he had never received any warnings about his work or been disciplined prior to his firing.

He is seeking punitive damages, including attorney's fees and other expenses.

Dunaway did not immediately return a request for comment from NBC News.

Last month, producers of "Tea at Five," a one-woman play that charts the career of Katharine Hepburn, said they terminated their relationship with Dunaway, who won the Academy Award for best actress in 1977 for her role in "Network."

"Plans are in development for the play to have its West End debut early next year with a new actress to play the role of Katharine Hepburn," Ben Feldman and Scott Beck said in a statement.