CNN Sued for Race Bias Against Black Salaried Workers

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By Kevin McGowan

Dec. 7 — CNN discriminates against black mid-level managers in pay, promotions and opportunities for advancement, according to a class action filed in federal district court in Georgia ( Henley v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. , N.D. Ga., No. 16-04506, complaint filed 12/6/16 ).

The complaint, which also names Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Time Warner Inc. and Turner Services Inc. as defendants, alleges that black salaried employees at both CNN and Turner Broadcasting are subject to a “glass ceiling” and “glass walls” that block their upward advancement.

CNN is a defendant in at least three other pending race discrimination lawsuits filed by individual black producers and writers over the past few years.

DeWayne Walker, a black CNN producer, last year filed an individual race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages. Daniel Meachum, the Atlanta lawyer for Walker, also represents the employees who filed the class action Dec. 6.

Black employees account for about 35 percent of CNN and Turner Broadcasting mid-level managers but are “extremely under-represented” in higher pay grades and senior positions, according to the lawsuit.

Research related to Walker’s lawsuit “uncovered stories involving abuse of power, nepotism, revenge, retaliation and discrimination” against black employees at CNN and Turner Broadcasting, Meachum said in a Dec. 6 statement.

A Turner representative didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment Dec. 7.

Proposed Class Would Go Back 20 Years

The lawsuit asks the court to certify a class of black former and current salaried employees who worked for CNN or Turner Broadcasting at any time from April 1997 to the present.

Named plaintiffs Celeslie Henley and Ernest Colbert seek injunctive and monetary relief on behalf of the proposed class, including back pay and lost benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

They allege a “pattern or practice” of race bias that violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. Section 1981).

Daniel R. Meachum & Associates LLC and Williams Oinonen LLC represent the employees. No attorney has yet entered an appearance for CNN, Turner and the other defendants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin McGowan in Washington at kmcgowan@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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