The erstwhile Morpheus has been slapped with a lawsuit by a former assistant who claims she was fired after she told him she was pregnant.
The suit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Kristel Crews, says she was hired by the Oscar-nominated actor in 1999 to take care of all of his "personal and business needs."
According to the complaint (a copy is online at TMZ.com), when Crews informed Fishburne in June 2004 that she was expecting, the 44-year-old actor told her he did not believe "in women having children on their own" and suggested "that there were consequences to her decision to have the baby without consulting him."
The suit says Fishburne initially expressed happiness upon hearing the news and agreed to be the baby's godfather. But, she says, a red flag went up when the actor allegedly told her he "could not understand why she had not come to him before she made a decision to become pregnant."
The complaint was immediately dissed by Fishburne's attorney, Lawrence Gartner.
"We categorically deny the allegations by Ms. Crews," Gartner says. "It is unfortunate that the visibility of actors causes people to say all kinds of things about them for what we can only assume are their own purposes. We are confident that Mr. Fishburne will be vindicated in these proceedings."
In her suit, Crews says that her work environment got worse in the weeks after she announced she was pregnant.
"As Fishburne continued to grill Plaintiff about her pregnancy, he became more and more adamant that having a child was an impediment to Plaintiff continuing in her duties," the suit says. "Among other things, Fishburne stated that he was the person most affected by Plaintiff's decision to have a baby...that he had reconsidered his offer to become the child's godfather because he did not want to help her...[and] that he didn't believe that she could attend to his needs after she had the baby because her attention would be on the baby and not him."
Crews contends that Boyz 'N the Hood star intended to sack her on her due date, Dec. 31, 2004, despite Crews making it clear that she intended to continue working after her maternity leave. The baby was born prematurely on Nov. 22. Shortly thereafter, Crews received a letter from Fishburne's attorney notifying her she was being let go effective Jan. 17, 2005, the day she was scheduled to return to work.
Crews is suing the Oscar nominee for breach of contract, sex discrimination and wrongful termination, among other claims. She's seeking unidentified punitive damages for emotional distress suffered for being subjected to a hostile work environment.
But Gartner says Fishburne was a good boss.
"During the course of her employment, she was always treated in a fair and professional manner and thus we are disappointed that she chose to raise these assertions," the attorney says.
Fishburne is currently filming the crime drama The Death and Life of Bobby Z opposite Paul Walker. He next appears opposite
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 3, due out in May.
By Josh Grossberg