Film Festival

Former employee files lawsuit against PSIFF

Former employee files lawsuit against...

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - UPDATE: 6:14 p.m. 

For more than a decade, Helen du Toit helped organize the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), serving in different positions from artistic director to acting executive director. 


But now, du Toit has filed a discrimination lawsuit against her former employer. 


du Toit's attorney, Nick Rosenthal with Diversity Law Group, said she was offered the permanent position of the festival's executive director at half the pay, or $90,000 less, of the man she replaced.  


The lawsuit also claims Rosenthal was let go from her job shortly after rejecting that offer, and officials then hired a younger man as her replacement. 


"Ms. du Toit is not happy that she had to file this lawsuit," Rosenthal said. "She loves the organization. She wishes it the best. However, the organization treated her wrong. You discriminated against her on the basis of her gender, and her age."


In a statement, PSIFF officials said, "The charges are absurd and totally untrue."


While Rosenthal said he hopes to not see a similar case involved with the festival in the future. 


"I know that the Palm Springs [International] Film Festival prides itself, or claims to pride itself, on adhering to those values of diversity and equality," Rosenthal said. "And yet here, you've got a pretty classic example of discrimination."


Rosenthal said it's not known yet whether both sides will go to trial.



With the Palm Springs International Film Festival in full swing, a former employee of the festival is suing the organization, claiming discrimination against her former employer.

Former Acting Executive Director Helen Du Toit is claiming discrimination against her age and gender.

A copy of the lawsuit was filed by Du Toit's attorney at the Riverside County Superior Court just days before the start of the 28th annual film festival in Palm Springs.

For more than a decade, Helen Du Toit helped organize the Palm Springs International Film Festival, from Artistic Director to Acting Executive Director. But in the midst of the 2017 festival, Du Toit has filed the lawsuit which claims she was offered a salary that was $90,000 less than what her male predecessor was making -- and she was let go from her job shortly after rejecting that offer.

KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2's Zak Dahlheimer looked into the lawsuit on Thursday and spoke to Du Toit's attorney and officials with the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Learn more about the lawsuit on News Channel 3 at 5 p.m. and CBS Local 2 at 5:30 p.m.



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