UPDATED with Questlove tweet: NBC is trying to take the spotlight off The Roots’ Questlove in a discrimination lawsuit filed today by two fired crew members of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon against the drummer and the network.
“NBC is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity,” said the Comcast-owned net Wednesday after the suit had been filed in New York Supreme Court. “We have strong policies in place that protect against discrimination in any form,” spokesperson added to Deadline. “The decision about these plaintiffs was the company’s alone.”
Brandishing the stained name of Matt Lauer in their million dollars apiece damages seeking complaint against NBC and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino are claiming that they were canned not because of anything that was said or written but “because they are Caucasian.” The duo say they both were recipients of “an unsolicited racist and misogynist text message from a Tonight Show stagehand” last summer.“ Unlike other members of the crew and at least one member of The Roots, Decker and Cimino lost their jobs after a nearly two month investigation.
A reaction that the two claim is indicative of NBC’s cherry picking approach when it comes to dealing with “circumstances of wrongful conduct,” as their complaint terms it. “It has been widely reported that many employees of NBC (including, of course, female victims themselves) had actual knowledge of Matt Lauer’s alleged serial sexual harassment, and yet NBC ignored and took no adverse action against any such individuals for their purported failure to report Mr. Lauer’s conduct,” Decker and Cimino’s filing declares.
Lauer was of course shown the door by the network in November of last year very soon after allegations of rampant sexual harassment by the two-decade long Today Show co-host became public.
As well, the long time camera operators lay their respective pink slippings at the bass drum pounding feet of Questlove in their action, in which the Roots leader is named as defendant. Thompson is alleged to have demanded both Decker and Cimino be terminated. The lawsuit also claims that African-American Roots bassist Mark Kelly was not even disciplined though he too is said to have received the texts in question. “NBC acquiesced to Questlove’s overtly discriminatory demand,” the suit tersely says.
While this is now in the courts, sources close to the situation tell Deadline that the duo was actually let go because they violated NBC policy requiring that such texts and other material be formally reported ASAP. In their suit, Decker and Cimino say that they did not reply to the text and reported it to management at the Tonight Show and band’s manager Keith McPhee,
Like house band The Roots, Decker and Cimino have been at the Fallon fronted Tonight Show since the former Saturday Night Live cast member took over the late night franchise in early 2014. Before that the duo were at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon two years respectively as well as stints on SNL.
Questlove tweeted his reaction below:
Reps for Thompson have not replied to request for comment from Deadline about the matter.