Two former employees of NBC are suing the network and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon drummer Questlove (Ahmir Thompson), claiming The Roots member convinced the company to fire them as camera operators, “because they are Caucasian.”
The Blast reports Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino filed a lawsuit against the musician and NBC, claiming that the Philly native “pressured NBC to fire all of the Caucasian employees involved in the incident.”
The former employees claim they, as well as Roots bassist Mark Kelley, received “an unsolicited racist and misogynist text message from a Tonight Show stagehand” last summer. After reporting the incident to the Roots’ manager and an NBC technical production manager, they claim they were both suspended while Kelley was not, according to documents obtained by The Daily News.
The lawsuit also claims that the part-time DJ wanted “all of the Caucasian employees involved” fired, including Decker and Cimino. Kelley was reportedly excused.
“The bottom line is that discrimination is discrimination, no matter your ethnicity, race or creed,” Richard Roth, who is representing Decer and Cimino, told The News.
NBC and the Roots’ Questlove are denying the accusations, with a rep for the music historian telling Rolling Stone, “Questlove denies the ridiculous allegations made in this lawsuit. Racism is REAL and exists throughout the world and for these gentlemen to claim victim is not only disrespectful to Questlove and his band mates, but to all that truly endure racism on a daily basis. As NBC already stated, the decisions made regarding these employees were made by NBC, alone.”
An NBC spokesperson told the same publication, “NBC is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. We have strong policies in place that protect against discrimination in any form. The decision about these plaintiffs was the company’s alone.”
Decker and Cimino are each seeking $1 million in damages.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.