CNN was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit by Celeslie Henly and Ernest Colbert, Jr., in Georgia federal court alleging racial discrimination in December. Since then more than 100 current and past employees have come forward to join the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges African-Americans receive lower performance ratings in evaluations, lower compensation than whites in comparable positions, and that the promotion of African-American employees is blocked by a “glass ceiling.”
Henly, an administrative assistant, claims she worked 12-13 hour shifts compared to white counterparts who worked 8 hours shifts. She was fired when she complained to the HR department for the excessive workload.
Colbert, who still works at TBS (CNN sister company), alleges he was only promoted twice in 19 years and made thousands of dollars less than white counterparts even though he worked twice as hard. He contends the internal policies ensure black employees aren’t promoted as often or to positions as high as are white employees.
Attorney Daniel Meachum wrote in the complaint, “As a result, jobs are filled without being posted, candidates are handpicked in advance, and supervisors who make hiring decisions have implemented ‘preferred qualifications’ to mask the prejudicial preference in their candidate selection.”
He further contends that although African-Americans make up 30 to 35 percent of the employees in the mid-level managerial and staffing positions, they are extremely under-represented at higher pay grades and senior positions.
The complaint also alleges African-American employees have endured slurs from superiors, including, “It’s hard to manage black people,” and “Who would be worth more, black slaves from times past or new slaves?”
The plaintiffs’ motion to amend which was filed March 23, reads: “Since the filing of this action, counsels for the plaintiffs have been contacted by more than 175 people, both former and current employees of the Defendant, requesting to be members of the putative class action, all having similar complaints of intentional racial discrimination, discrimination impact and discriminatory practices employed by the Defendants.”