The Time Warner-owned cable news network passes over black employees and denies them on-the-job training, producer Ricky Blalock claims in a $500,000 racial-discrimination lawsuit filed this week that marks the second such legal action against CNN in just more than a year.
CNN “intentionally and willfully violated Mr. Blalock’s right to be free from race-based discrimination in his employment,” says the complaint filed Thursday in federal court. A full-time employee for the past three years, former freelancer Blalock, a producer for anchors Fredricka Whitfield and Ashleigh Banfield’s morning legal show, alleges that white CNN staffers were offered paid training while he and other African-Americans were not. The producer also says that after he filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this summer on the state of things at CNN, he was passed over for a promotion. The position went to a white woman Blalock claims had fewer qualifications.
The plaintiff’s action, first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is seeking at least $500,000 in damages. A CNN spokesperson declined comment on the lawsuit today.
Not that network higher-ups didn’t apparently know there were concerns: The 51-year old Blalock says in his complaint that he asked CNN boss Jeff Zucker about why there were fewer and fewer African-Americans in the net’s exec hierarchy.
This might seem like deja vu to Zucker, CNN and legal watchers. In October 2014, producer Stanley Wilson hit the channel with a $5 million wrongful-termination and discrimination complaint in L.A. Superior Court. The longtime field producer and writer of news and documentaries was pink-slipped in January 2014 after what he detailed as constant friction with his immediate supervisor Peter Janos, who was also named as a defendant in 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,” said Wilson’s 2014 complaint, terms similar to Blalock’s lawsuit. “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.”
Wilson’s lawsuit is still before the courts.