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A digital artist in the entertainment business said he was fired after repeatedly telling his superiors about drug use in the workplace, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit he filed last week. Andrew MacDonald, who specialized in visual effects and post-production, was the co-director for creative design at a subsidiary of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Ascent Media Corp. called R!OT. In 2008, when R!OT merged with another subsidiary called Method Studios, MacDonald told one of his supervisors that another employee with whom he would be working after the merger had a “very public drug problem,” according to the suit. “He was very concerned if he was going to be accountable for his work progress that he was going to get basically tied down with this other individual who had a narcotic problem,” said Sean Macias of Macias Counsel Inc. in Pasadena, Calif., who represents MacDonald. In particular, he told his supervisor that the other employee was using cocaine in one of the public bathrooms — an “open secret” that had earned the bathroom the nickname “Crinkle Club.” His supervisor told him not to worry, according to the suit. After that supervisor was fired, MacDonald brought up the subject again when finalizing his $250,000 employment contract with Ascent. During a March 26, 2009, evening at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica, Ascent Vice President Marcel Gandola told MacDonald “not to undermine” the other employee, who was a key person in the company. They also asked him if he had any proof of the alleged drug use. “Plaintiff informed Mr. Gandola that he had personally witnessed the drug use, but Mr. Gandola again shrugged off these concerns claiming that there was no way Plaintiff could prove them,” the complaint says. “Plaintiff was shocked, and jokingly asked whether Mr. Gandola needed him to video-tape the bathroom in order to prove that his concerns were well-founded. At the time, Mr. Gandola appeared to understand that the Plaintiff was joking, and at no time indicated otherwise.” The next day, Gandola and a senior lawyer at Ascent, Niloofar Nejat-Bina, fired MacDonald after accusing him of threatening to videotape the other employee in the bathroom. A call to Ascent requesting comment was not returned. Attempts to reach the other employee were not successful. In addition to wrongful termination, the suit, filed in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Superior Court, alleges breach of implied covenant, breach of oral contract and unfair competition. It asks for punitive damages. MacDonald filed the suit originally on Sept. 3 but did not serve Ascent Media until Friday, one day after the complaint was amended.

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