Last month, I directed you to a Title VII (and Arkansas Human Rights Act) claim against Little Rock television station KTHV and Gannett, its parent company. As I pointed out, it was unclear at the time what the Plaintiff’s status was, as he had been removed from the station web site and the trades were silent about any separation between the sports reporter and the station.
You can read further background here. In his Complaint, the sports reporter alleged racism in hiring and promotion.
We now know that the reporter was terminated by the station (and the company) on April 15, 2014.
Evidently, upon being terminated, the Plaintiff rushed a charge of retaliation to the Little Rock EEOC office, which not twenty (20) days later, issued a “right to sue” letter on that charge. Accordingly, on May 8, 2014, the Plaintiff amended his charge to include a cause of action for retaliation under these statutes.
Retaliation is one of the most common claims facing employers under the anti-discrimination statutes. There is a rebuttable presumption of retaliation in some jurisdictions if the firing happens in close proximity to the alleged underlying discrimination. In this case, the Plaintiff argues he was fired within two months of filing suit, and that the “temporal proximity” suggests retaliation.
You can read the Second Amended Complaint here.
34. On April 15, 2014, a short period after filing his EEOC claim and this federal lawsuit, Gannett abruptly and unilaterally terminated Plaintiff. Gannett, as part of its retaliatory scheme, retaliated against the Plaintiff and unilaterally terminated the Plaintiff from employment before Plaintiff’s brief contract extension had even run through the end of April.
35. Gannett terminated Plaintiff. However, Plaintiff, at all relevant times, had sought to be promoted to the position of prime-time anchor and director with Gannett and remain in employment with Gannett. Gannett’s acts were direct and affirmative employment retaliatory acts to terminate Plaintiff for filing a charge of race discrimination with EEOC and for seeking remedy in the law and equity by filing this federal lawsuit for being denied a promotion on the basis of Plaintiff’s race. As a false cover or “pretext” to mask and conceal Gannett’s retaliation against Plaintiff for Plaintiff exercising his lawful rights to file a federal lawsuit and seek remedy for employment discrimination, Gannett brought up false, misleading, bogus and untrue allegations against the Plaintiff at the time of its unlawful, retaliatory termination.