Tag: discrimination lawsuit

Byron Allen Wins Preliminary U.S. Court Victories Against Comcast and Charter Communications Over Racial Discrimination

Entertainment Studios CEO Byron Allen (photo via thewrap.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to PRNewswire, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios (ES) and the National Association of African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM) – plaintiffs in federal lawsuits filed against Comcast and Charter Communications – have announced two decisions issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that will allow them to go to trial against two of the largest cable television carriers in the country.

In the $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast and the $10 billion suit against Charter, the carriers are accused of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in contracting. For years, Entertainment Studios has been requesting that Comcast and Charter carry its networks, which are distributed by Comcast and Charter’s competitors, including Verizon, DirecTV, AT&T, DISH, and many other carriers, to millions of people around the country.

Both Comcast and Charter, however, refused all of Allen’s requests for network carriage. Subsequently, Allen filed lawsuits in federal district court in Los Angeles.

In two historically significant decisions, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Comcast and Charter’s attempts to dismiss the cases before trial. The Court upheld Entertainment Studios’ Section 1981 claims against both Comcast and Charter; and instead ruled that both cases could proceed in the trial courts to discovery and trial.

“These two decisions against Comcast and Charter are very significant, unprecedented, and historic,” said Byron Allen, Founder/Chairman/CEO of Entertainment Studios. “The lack of true economic inclusion for African Americans will end with me, and these rulings show that I am unwavering in my commitment to achieving this long overdue goal.”

“The Court’s rulings overwhelmingly reflect the Ninth Circuit’s rejection of the Defendants’ positions and arguments,” said Mark DeVitre, President of plaintiff, NAAAOM. “I look forward to quickly moving into discovery where we expect much more evidence to surface.”

“These decisions are hugely important in terms of opening the courts to African American-owned media. The Court paved the way to our eventual success at trial by ensuring that the proper ‘mixed motive’ standard for our claims – a lower standard of proof than the ‘but for’ standard argued by Comcast and Charter – applies,” said Entertainment Studios’ attorney, Skip Miller, partner in Miller Barondess. “Additionally, the Court dismissed Charter’s and Comcast’s attempts to use the First Amendment as a shield for their alleged discrimination. I very much look forward to trying these cases. And I give Mr. Allen tremendous credit for having the will and the constitution to invest the capital and resources to pursue them relentlessly.”

According to Deadline.com, Charter and Comcast issued separate statements, expressing disappointment with the ruling. “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision, and are reviewing the decision and considering our options,” Comcast said in a statement.

Charter was more pointed in its response. “This lawsuit is a desperate tactic that this programmer has used before with other distributors,” Charter said in a statement to Deadline. “We are disappointed with today’s decision and will vigorously defend ourselves against these claims.”

The Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios alleged Charter’s former senior vice president of programming, Allan Singer, refused to meet with its representatives. Singer rescheduled and postponed meetings and offered “disingenuous” explanations for refusing to carry it programming, according to court documents.

Singer said bandwidth limitations and operational demands precluded carriage of ENT’s cable networks, while reaching carriage agreements with “lesser-known, white-owned channels” such as the rural focused RFD-TV and the horror channel Chiller.

Court documents cite evidence of racial bias, including one instance in which Singer allegedly approached an African-American protest group outside Charter’s headquarters and told them “to get off welfare.” Additionally, in court documents Charter CEO Tom Rutledge is alleged to have referred to Allen as “Boy” at an industry event.

“Plaintiffs suggest that these incidents are illustrative of Charter’s institutional racism,” the Appeals Court writes, in summarizing the case’s history. “Noting also that the cable operator had historically refused to carry African American-owned channels and, prior to its merger with Time Warner Cable, had a board of directors composed only of white men.”

Entertainment Studios ascribed similar discriminatory motives on the part of Comcast, which offered carriage deals to such networks as Inspirational Network, Fit TV, Outdoor Channel and Baby First Americas while telling Allen it had no bandwidth or storage capacity for his networks.

Allen founded Entertainment Studios in 1993 and owns eight 24-hour HD television networks serving nearly 160 million subscribers: THE WEATHER CHANNEL, PETS.TV, COMEDY.TV, RECIPE.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, and JUSTICE CENTRAL.TV. The company also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 41 television programs, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations.

Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures is a full-service, theatrical motion picture distribution company specializing in wide release commercial content. ESMP released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN, which grossed over $44.3 million. In 2018, ESMP also released the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES and the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK.

Upcoming releases include the Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller REPLICAS, the John Krasinski/Emily Blunt-starring animated feature ANIMAL CRACKERS, and Joe Carnahan’s Mel Gibson/Naomi Watts starring action-thriller BOSS LEVEL.

JP Morgan Chase to Pay $24 Million to Settle Class Action Discrimination Lawsuit

(photo via black enterprise.com)

by Jeffrey McKinney via blackenterprise.com

JPMorgan Chase & Co. will pay $19.5 million to more than 200 current and former black financial advisers and their attorneys in a class action settlement with the bank.

The nation’s largest bank also will spend $4.5 million to launch in-house development programs over the next three years to recruit advisers and help them be successful in those positions.

The New York-based bank recently reached the $24 million settlement after six current or former black financial advisers at the bank filed a discrimination suit, basically alleging they were mistreated because of their color.

The settlement will help the banking powerhouse avoid a court battle. The advisers had been seeking class-action status, Bloomberg reported.

“This allows us to continue to focus on the diverse and inclusive environment that is critical to our success,” Tom Kelly, a JP Morgan spokesman, said. “We’ll keep work with our black advisers through recruiting, development, coaching and management training.”

The suit asserts JP Morgan sent white advisers to wealthier sites while assigning black peers to branches that were not as successful. The advisers added black employees received lower pay and had fewer licensed bankers to support them. Further, the suit claims black personnel was blocked from a program that catered to wealthier clients.

“These racial disparities result from Chase’s systemic, intentional race discrimination and from policies and practices that have an unlawful disparate impact on African Americans,” the six plaintiffs said in court papers, Bloomberg reported.

The plaintiffs included Jerome Senegal in Texas, Erika Williams in Illinois, Brent Griffin in Wisconsin, Irvin Nash in New York, Amanda Jason in Kentucky, and Kellie Farrish in California. “Our clients are proud of this outcome and acknowledge that JPMorgan had a choice to fight,” their lawyer Linda Friedman said in an email via Bloomberg. “Each case builds on the last. This is how progress is made.”

Other major banking and financial services firms have faced parallel accusations. Last year, Wells Fargo reached a $35.5 million settlement with a group of black financial advisers who claimed the firm discriminated because of their race. Five years ago, Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch resolved a race discrimination suit for $160 million.

Source: https://www.blackenterprise.com/jpmorgan-chase-discrimination-lawsuituit/

Toyota Must Pay $22 Million for Charging Minorities Higher Interest Rates

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.06.00 AMarticle via clutchmagonline.com

The Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday announced a settlement resolving allegations that Torrance-based Toyota Motor Credit Corp. discriminated against black and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers in auto lending.

Toyota has agreed that it will not increase rates it quotes to car dealers as well as limiting the discretion of its dealers to charge interest rate markups.

The $20 million settlement will provide compensation to those who took out loans from Jan. 2011 up until last month. In addition, the company will also pay $2 million to black and asian borrowers with markup disparities.

“TMCC does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, even perceived or unintentional, from its employees or business partners — this principle extends to fair lending practices,” according to the company.

“While TMCC respectfully disagrees with the agencies’ methodologies to determine whether industry lending practices have been discriminatory, the company shares the agencies’ commitment to ensuring that consumers can count on competitive and fair auto financing options,” the statement continued. “The actions TMCC will take under this agreement are intended to further that commitment.”

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits such discrimination in all forms of lending, including auto lending.

AT&T Fires President Aaron Slator for Sending Racist Texts and Images, Faces $100M Employee Discrimination Suit

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.51.01 PM

Telecom giant AT&T has fired an executive who was sued this week for allegedly using his work cell phone to keep and send racially offensive images.  Aaron Slator was fired as AT&T’s President of Content and Advertising Sales after employee Knoyme King, 50, accused him and other executives at AT&T of subjecting her to discriminatory behavior.

“There is no place for demeaning behavior within AT&T, and we regret the action was not taken earlier,” the company said in a statement confirming Slator’s dismissal.

The images at issue were found in Slator’s possession when he asked an assistant to transfer data from an old phone to a new one, the lawsuit said.

One of the images depicted an African child dancing with the racist caption “It’s Friday N—-s,” the lawsuit said.  According to the lawsuit, Slator once sent the image in a text describing it as “an oldie but a goodie.”

“Slator harbors obvious and deep-seated racial animus toward African Americans,” the lawsuit obtained by the Daily News said. “Slator’s decisions regarding hiring, firing, promotions and raises are infected by his racism.”

The suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, names multiple defendants including Slator, company CEO Randall Stephenson, other executives at the company’s Los Angeles office and board member Joyce Roche.

King’s lawyer Louis (Skip) Miller said Tuesday that Slator’s termination will not affect the lawsuit moving forward.  “If anything, it’s an admission of liability. It proves we’re right, that it all happened,” Miller told The News.

He said the lawsuit is bigger than one image or one executive.

“The issues in this case are age, race and gender discrimination, and they don’t stop with Aaron Slator. These images and issues were reported a year and a half ago, and the company swept them under the rug,” Miller said.

He called King a “very nice lady” who spent 30 years building a career at AT&T and deserved better. According to the lawsuit, King, who is African American, was passed over for promotions and given unfair pay because of her race and age.  “She’s a very down to earth, earnest, hard-working and loyal woman,” Miller said of King. “And she thought she’d have a career where she could move up. She never had a chance.”

article by Nancy Dillon via nydailynews.com

Former Employee Diane Harris Wins Big Discrimination Lawsuit Against Detroit Greektown Casino

 

Diane Harris

Diane Harris (pictured), a former beverage supervisor at the Detroit Greektown casino, just hit the jackpot in a HUGE way, but she didn’t gamble and win. Rather, she filed a discrimination suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against her employer and was awarded $600,000 on Monday, according to My Fox Detroit.  Harris was employed by the casino for ten years and when the manager’s spot came up she decided to interview for it. For six months, the coveted position remained vacant and during this time Harris assumed the duties of the job. She was confident that the spot would be hers as she toiled away at it for half a year without the title or compensation.

After the six month period, much to Harris’ surprise, the casino hired a Caucasian woman as manager, who was younger than her and less experienced at the job.  According to Harris’ lawyer Ray Guzall, “They promoted this younger, female Caucasian employee above my client, and then they made my client train her.”  According to Harris, the young woman could not fit the bill and the casino fire her. The casino reportedly hired another Caucasian female and, again, asked Harris to train her as well. The second hire was also let go. Harris contends that both women, who were younger than her, also had considerably less experience and could not perform the job that she was adept at doing.  

After Harris filed her discrimination complaint with the EEOC in January, she was terminated from her job one month later. “I got terminated and that’s not fair either, that’s illegal, and that’s why I went to court,” Harris told My Fox Detroit.

To see video of this story, click here.

article via newsone.com