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African-Americans claim discrimination in class-action lawsuit against CNN, Turner

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Two African-American employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against CNN, Turner Broadcasting and its parent company, Time Warner, alleging racial discrimination.

{mosads}The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit are identified as Celeslie Henley and Ernest Colbert Jr. Henley is a former executive administrative assistant at CNN, while Colbert is still employed by Turner as a senior manager at TBS.

“The current workplace culture utilizes practices that discourages or prohibit minorities from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes,” they allege in the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday. 

They are represented by Daniel Meachum, whose Atlanta-based firm has a clientele that includes actor Denzel Washington and BET founder Bob Johnson. He also has represented actor Wesley Snipes and former NFL star Michael Vick.

Meachum said a discrimination lawsuit filed last year against CNN, Turner and Time Warner uncovered stories involving  “abuse of power, nepotism, revenge, retaliation and discrimination.”  

He noted that 20 to 30 other current and former Turner employees shared what they’ve observed and experienced over the years.

Turner, whose networks include CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, said it does not want to comment on pending litigation.

The new 40-page class-action lawsuit includes data provided by Turner. That data, according to the suit, shows that “salaries paid by Turner and/or CNN to African-American compared with salaries paid to Caucasian employees reveals dramatic differences in pay in similarly situated employees of different race. Upon information and belief, the pattern exists throughout the company.”

The data also shows that promotions for African-Americans to high levels within the organization are nonexistent, according to the lawsuit.

“In the 46-year history of Turner’s network, no African-American has ever been promoted or selected to be President of Turner Broadcasting, Inc, or oversee any of Turner’s networks,” it reads. 

The new lawsuit is the latest allegation of discrimination against the broadcasting giant.

DeWayne Walker alleged racial discrimination in a $50 million lawsuit filed late last year against CNN, Turner Broadcasting System, Time Warner Inc. and Turner Services Inc.  

Walker, who is an integrated marketing manager at CNN, according to his LinkedIn page, also claims he was retaliated against for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.

He claims he has been passed over for promotion nine times because of race between 2002 and 2015.

Two other CNN African-American employees, Omar Butcher and Ricky Blalock, have also filed discrimination lawsuits against the company this year.

Butcher, a former associate producer at CNN, was fired in 2015.

He is suing the network for wrongful termination after, he claims, co-workers discriminated against him.

Blalock was a producer for Ashleigh Banfield’s CNN legal show, which has since moved to sister network HLN.

According to court documents, Blalock’s lawyer alleges that CNN “intentionally and willfully violated Mr. Blalock’s right to be free from race-based discrimination in his employment.”  


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