CNN has had better Mondays. The same day parent Turner Broadcasting said the cable news net will lose nearly 10% of its workforce, CNN has been named in a $5 million wrongful-termination and discrimination lawsuit by a longtime employee who was let go in January.
Stanley Wilson worked as field producer and writer of news and documentaries, covering stories including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and elections and contributing to such programs as Black In America and Homicide In Hollenbeck. In the suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), Wilson claims that Peter Janos, who served as his immediate or general supervisor for his entire 17 years at CNN, “never liked Plaintiff and never wanted him at the [Los Angeles] bureau because of Plaintiff’s protected characteristics, including his race, color and ancestry, among other things.”
Wilson was promoted only once during his tenure at CNN, in 2003, despite applying for a dozen job openings. According to the suit, “In 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, Plaintiff verbally complained to the CNN Senior Vice-President of Human Resources (HR) that African-American men outside of Atlanta, D.C., and New York were not being promoted. Plaintiff complained that Janos was an important actor in the wholesale discrimination against African-American men in the hiring and promotion of staff producers and television photographers in Los Angeles. Plaintiff also complained of concerns that his age and compensation package were increasingly being viewed as a liability.” The suit also alleges that Janos became concerned about fertility treatments Wilson’s wife was undergoing that the exec “considered high risk, requiring extensive medical care.”
Janos, who also is a defendant in the suit along with Turner Broadcasting and Turner Services, was promoted to VP and Bureau Chief in 2013. Wilson’s wife gave birth to twins in September 2013, and Wilson took a five-week paternity leave. Soon before his leave began, Wilson learned that “Janos had promoted a much younger, less-experienced Caucasian individual to the position of producer, replacing a Los Angeles-based senior producer who Janos had promoted,” according to the suit. Wilson claims the new guy got the plum assignments, while the plaintiff “was frequently relegated to in-house packaging and fill-in work on the Assignment Desk.”
Wilson was assigned to cover a story in early January, and the suit claims that there was a question of attribution regarding three sentences. The story was pulled — which according to the suit, “was the pretext Janos needed to terminate Plaintiff’s employment.” On January 9, Wilson was placed on leave and told that “CNN was conducting an audit of the entirely of Plaintiff’s work.” He was terminated January 28.
Wilson is seeking at least $5 million in damages and a jury trial. He is represented in the case by the Law Offices of Lisa L. Maki in Santa Monica.