This month would have marked Omar Butcher’s seventh year at CNN, but instead of celebrating, he hopes he’ll soon be vindicated for speaking out against what he considers the network’s discriminatory practices, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
In July, anchor Ashley Banfield asked in an on-air segment about violence in the African-American community: “Have we lost a generation?” She questioned whether “there is an entire generation out there that cannot be changed, that cannot be reached, they just have to age and die.”
Butcher was troubled by Banfield’s remarks and sent her a private email explaining his concern and noting that she did not make similar queries in a previous segment addressing young white males who murder.
He said Banfield responded, questioning whether Butcher was suggesting she was “a racist” and that she would “take [it] up with our bosses.”
A day later, Butcher was terminated.
A separate class action suit on behalf of African-American employees has also been filed against the Atlanta-based network, Turner Broadcasting System and New York-based parent company Time Warner Inc. complaining of racial discrimination.
That suit, filed in December in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia, asserts that blacks and black males in particular are discriminated against in evaluations, compensation and promotions.
The class-action identifies two plaintiffs by name but attorneys for the plaintiffs have said that at least 30 mid-level black CNN and Turner Broadcasting employees are impacted going back 20 years.