Kevin Hunter has been embroiled in several legal battles since Wendy Williams began divorce proceedings in 2019. But he recently achieved a small legal win as a judge has ruled to allow Hunter’s ability to move forward with a lawsuit against the producers of “The Wendy Williams Show.”
Hunter, who reportedly has a current net worth of $5 million, is suing the producers for $10 million.
“Mr. Hunter was instrumental in making The Wendy Williams Show the success that it was before it went off the air and the only reason he was terminated was because his marriage was ending with Wendy, nothing at all based on the merits of his performance,” Hunter’s attorney said in a statement that was published in The Sun.
Motion Denied, Case Scheduled
According to court documents published by RadarOnline, a New York Federal judge denied a motion to dismiss by the defendants, Debmar-Mercury LLC, and production executives Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus. The defendants denied discriminating against Hunter, and do not believe he was wrongfully terminated. Lawyers for the defendants argued that Hunter’s claim that New York State law prohibits an employer from discriminating against a potential employee as a result of their marital status was not a valid argument.
“[Hunter’s] claim warrants dismissal because his marriage to Williams, in particular, is not a protected characteristic by the law,” the defendants argued. In addition, the defendants allege that he was not wrongfully terminated.
According to court documents, Hunter argued his case and also said, “Given Hunter’s allegations that he was terminated because of his impending divorce from Wendy Williams — i.e. terminated because he would no longer be married to Williams” the law requires this “Court to find that he has stated a claim for marital status discrimination” under New York law.
The judge also found that “the termination letter made no reference to any performance-related reasons or any decisions related to the Plaintiff’s employment as an executive producer,” as reported in The Sun. Therefore, the case is moving forward with a hearing scheduled for late September.
A Hefty Lawsuit
In March 2022, Hunter sued the production company and its heads for wrongful termination to the tune of $10 million. Hunter served as executive producer of “The Wendy Williams Show” starting in 2007. Hunter has argued that he was an instrumental part of the show’s success during his time as executive producer from 2007 until 2019. Williams filed for divorce from Hunter in 2019, after he was caught in a cheating scandal. Hunter was fired from his position on the show, a move that he believed was not necessary
“The termination of [Kevin] was based strictly upon [Kevin’s] marital status and his impending divorce to the Show’s host, ignoring all of the contributions that [Kevin] made to make the Show a success,” Hunter’s lawsuit states.
An Axed Executive Producer
According to court documents, Hunter began negotiating for Williams’ television talk show in 2007. Initially, the show was awarded a six-week trial. The show aired in four cities with “The New York Times,” calling the show a “breakthrough in daytime” because of Williams’ brand of delivering gossip.
“[Kevin] was used to being behind the scenes of Williams’ prior ventures and used his business knowledge and street smarts to negotiate a significant financial increase from the initial contract being offered to Williams,” the suit claims.
Hunter claims that he managed all negotiations for Williams with Debmar-Mercury through the company’s leaders, Bernstein and Marcus. Following the trial period, Fox inked a deal with Debmar-Mercury to run the show on its stations. In July 2009, the show began airing throughout the nation. On average, the show had 2.4 million viewers daily.
Hunter argues that he developed Williams’ segments such as Hot Topics and Shoe Cam. While serving as an executive producer on the show, he was able to approve guest appearances, spearhead marketing plans, manage media connections, and handled security for Williams.