A federal court judge today ruled in Universal’s favor in that racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of Frank Davis, the African American first assistant director axed from the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious during the first months of principal photography in 2002. Davis claimed the reason was because he’s black. Universal maintained it was his poor job performance. After Davis filed a complaint following his release, the EEOC sued Universal, claiming a pattern of studio hiring and firing based on race. Davis joined the lawsuit seeking damages from Universal, but he reached a confidential settlement with the studio after opening statements in the case in June. The trial then continued, with U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess dismissing the jury and hearing the EEOC’s case himself.
EEOC attorney Derek Li began his closing argument saying the studio’s reasons for firing Davis were as fake as the buildings on the Universal back lot. But a big complication in the EEOC case was that the movie’s director, well-known African American director John Singleton, sided with Universal in the lawsuit. “This fact weakens, if not completely eliminates, any inference that [Universal] harbored any racial animus towards African Americans,” Feess ruled today. Finding that Davis’ firing was not the result of any intentional discrimination, the judge ruled that “when the evidence is viewed in its entirety free of any preconceived notions, it simply does not support any claim that Davis’ termination was the result of anything other than poor job performance.”
Universal president/COO Ron Meyer issued this statement after the decision: “I am extremely pleased with the court’s decision today, which is a complete vindication for Universal and its employees. Universal chose to try the case because we wanted to give our colleagues, who had been falsely accused of racism, the chance to tell the truth about what happened on this movie. I want to express my gratitude to the many Universal executives and free-lance crew members involved in this case who sacrificed their time and energy to see this through to resolution. I would also like to thank the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and its president, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, for their invaluable assistance in helping us achieve a fair and amicable settlement with Frank Davis. Universal is committed to equal employment opportunity in all aspects of our business and though, we believe that pursuing this baseless claim for four years was not a good use of its resources, we remain fully supportive of the EEOC’s mission to eradicate racism in the workplace.”
I know this lawsuit had Uni execs really angry since most of them are liberals harboring the usual white man’s guilt. Now they can all breathe a sigh of relief.