An Atlanta judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Time Warner that alleged a pattern of racial discrimination at some of its networks. A pair of African-American Turner veterans were suing the conglomerate and its cable nets CNN and TBS claiming that they were paid less that Caucasian colleagues, were denied pay raises or promotions and that “Defendants have engaged in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination in performance evaluations, compensations, promotions and terminations.”
U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey Jr. did not agree and addressed each claim separately in his ruling today. Part of the plaintiffs’ suit was based on statistics in an internal HR report from the early 2010s, but the judge laid out why he believes the data were not consistent with discrimination.
Plaintiffs Celeslie Henley and spent seven years at CNN and two decades at TBS, respectively. They filed a class action in December that built on previous racial-bias suits facing the companies. “As a result of the current discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of DeWayne Walker v. CNN, Time Warner & Turner, we have uncovered stories involving abuse of power, nepotism, revenge, retaliation and discrimination,” their attorney Daniel Meachum said in a statement when the suit was filed.
Duffey tackled each allegation separately in his ruling, for example writing: “The HR report shows that … employees ‘of color’ received lower performance evaluations, were paid less, or were promoted at a lower rate that the average employee in some, but not all, TBS divisions,” he wrote in response to the claim by Ernest Colbert Jr., who spent two decades working for that network. “This data does not plausibly show that Defendants engaged in intentional racial discrimination against the named Plaintiffs or the Class, and does not show discrimination in divisions within TBS.”
He also slammed the door on any future action by the plaintiffs by denying their motion to file an amended claim based on “new facts.” “Because the Proposed Amended Complaint would require dismissal for the same reasons as the initial, Complaint, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend is futile.”
The suit sought wide-ranging damages and pay plus a court order ending the alleged discriminatory practices.