In a federal class action, an Arkansas sports broadcaster accuses KTHV the Gannett station in Little Rock of running a racist workplace that makes it impossible for black workers to be promoted to lead anchor and management positions.
Mark Nelson aka Mark Edwards sued Gannett's KTHV Channel 11 in a 26-page lawsuit with 23 pages of attachments.
Edwards claims that Gannett ran a sophisticated scheme and cover "in the form of focus groups and other means and methods that are subjectively manipulated by Gannett to achieve its discriminatory goals and objectives."
According to the lawsuit, Gannett "has a corporate custom, policy, pattern, practice and procedure of not promoting African-Americans to director and leadership positions and utilizing a 'one-and-done policy' that disparately impacts African-American employed within the company."
Edwards says he began working for Gannett at THV Channel 11 in 2003 "in what is referred to as a 'number three' position" - editing and production, rather than sports anchor or broadcaster.
In 2007, he says, he was offered a prime sports broadcasting spot in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the nation's top 15 news markets. Apparently, the offer was from a competitor, which is not named in the complaint. "This broadcasting position provided a substantial increase in pay, promotion, terms, conditions, privileges and employment benefits. The position offered plaintiff the opportunity to cover and broadcast professional sports teams, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns, (and) Cleveland Indians on television and also provided further advancement opportunities in major sports broadcasting venues. At the time of this offer, Larry Audas, the General Manager at KTHV Channel 11, approached plaintiff and advised plaintiff that defendant was opposed to him leaving. Mr. Audas, on behalf of Channel 11, advised plaintiff that defendant would promote plaintiff to a higher sports broadcasting position on weekends with the company, a number two position, and ultimately plaintiff would be on a 'fast track' for the number one position as sports director at KTHV Channel 11, if plaintiff stayed in Little Rock, Arkansas," according to the complaint.
Edwards says he stayed, and the Cleveland job went to someone else. He says he worked on the station's morning show for a week and was offered a weekend morning show co-anchor position.
The complaint continues: "After remaining in employment for several years with the defendant, in approximately May 2012, Wes Moore, a white sports anchor and director, left Channel 11. Plaintiff was in an optimum position to take over as the anchor and sports director with the attendant advertising, marketing, promotion and raise-in-pay that accompanies such advancement within the company. However, rather than offer this opportunity to plaintiff, instead, Channel 11 hired a white male with less sports broadcasting experience from another station in July-August of 2012. For reasons never explained to plaintiff, defendant did not provide plaintiff with an offer to be promoted, marketed or further advanced with the defendant as sports director, or anchor as was promised and represented by him."
The moral of the story is this is why you get and agent and you get everything in writing.