CNN | Discrimination

Ex-CNN Employee Files $60 Million Discrimination Lawsuit Claiming He Was Fired For Being Gay

William Kane yellow mariachi suit

William Kane worked in tech for CNN from 2002 to 2013 and was known for his ostentatious sense of style: hot pink designer shirts, bright red track jacket, neon green soccer jersey, yellow track suit with matching shoes and hat, even custom-made mariachi suits. His attire never caused any problems, and in fact was well received by several guests on the station. Fareed Zakaria called his mariachi suit "incredible," Christiane Amanpour tweeted out a picture of herself standing with William in one of his outfits, and anchor Erin Burnett even called him the "best-dressed man" on her show.

When Kane's supervisor, John Silva, learned that Kane was gay the workplace allegedly turned hostile. In Kane's lawsuit, Silva is alleged to have said that Kane's outfits had to go “because [they were] too flamboyant for a male in our department,” and that Kane might be better suited in the “entertainment or makeup department,” which Kane interpreted as Silva stereotyping him as a gay man.

Kane was once offered $100 to go buy a different outfit from TJ Maxx and was told that his light blue tracksuit was distracting host Piers Morgan. Morgan denies having ever complained and instead said, "I love your track suits. ... I want Billy (Kane) to wear the brightest-colored clothing when working on my show."

Kane was fired last June and says he filed the lawsuit after receiving a "right to sue" letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Kane fears that he will never be able to work in TV again, blackballed and typecast as the "track suit guy" or the "gay guy."

Said Kane:

“I feel like the Rosa Parks of CNN. Maybe someone else won’t have to suffer the way I have,”

A CNN rep said they had not yet seen the lawsuit, but noted that Kane's original claim with the EEOC was dismissed with no violations found. 

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Comments

  1. It sounds like he is an eccentric character.

    Posted by: Hol | May 24, 2014 8:36:16 AM


  2. $60 million?? The "Rosa Parks of CNN"?? There might be just a slim outside chance this dude is a big drama queen looking for a little attention. Nothing to see here . . . move on.

    Posted by: jason MacBride | May 24, 2014 8:37:49 AM


  3. Probably got fired for failing to accessorize tastefully. Methinks girlfriend is an attention whore.

    Posted by: jamal49 | May 24, 2014 8:57:01 AM


  4. The problem about being openly gay at work is that you never know who is a closeted homophobe. I had a supervisor who, when he found out I was gay, level several trumped up charges of poor work performance against me. I spent months fighting off those charges and succeeded. But in the corporate world, by then I looked like nitro glycerin.

    Posted by: Dale | May 24, 2014 8:58:21 AM


  5. There is something else going on here, this guy is out for the money. It seems he was pushing the envelope to see how far he could go before he got the reaction he wanted.
    What ever happened to dressing appropriately and professionally,

    Posted by: I wont grow up | May 24, 2014 8:58:57 AM


  6. We just don't have enough to go on. It's certainly appropriate for a company - or a supervisor to set reasonable workplace dress codes, and a neon yellow mariachi outfit seems very much an outlier for normal workplace clothing.

    On the other hand, if it was unremarkable and unremarked on until he came out, it's entirely possible it was a convenient excuse to fire him for being gay.

    Posted by: Lymis | May 24, 2014 9:44:05 AM


  7. "The problem about being openly gay at work is that you never know who is a closeted homophobe."

    Or even not a closet homophobe. I was fired from a job when my boss was promoted and I got a new one who was pretty outspokenly anti-gay. I was out during the interviewing process and out from day one, and it was never an issue. Until the new guy came in, and he did the same thing - trumped up job performance lies about me and then fired me without notice.

    Posted by: Lymis | May 24, 2014 9:46:38 AM


  8. Having faced workplace discrimination myself, I am plenty sympathetic. But comparing oneself to Rosa Parks because candy-colored ensembles is a bit much.

    Posted by: Pervy McPerv | May 24, 2014 9:48:50 AM


  9. While I think it was ridiculous to compare himself to Rosa Parks, I've seen FAR too many occasions in which Piers Morgan exhibited very open loathing of gay men -- especially those who dressed or acted flamboyantly. I still think he was terribly wrong for buzzing Prince Poppycock in the AGT finals. Why the buzzer was even active is a mystery to me, since at that point of the season the voting was entirely up to viewers, not the show's judges.

    If there's truth to Kane's claim, I'd bet Morgan was somewhere behind the push to get the guy released.

    Posted by: sparks | May 24, 2014 9:50:55 AM


  10. This little fruitcake (the Rosa Parks of CNN) reminds me of the opportunism of Johnny Weir. CNN allows Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper to do dozens of gay-related stories. CNN hires Anderson and Kathy Griffin to host the gayest New Years Eve's Live program ever -- then rehires them. Both CNN and MSNBC are gay-friendly: we SEE it.

    There's a big difference between gay discrimination and firing someone for being a queeny ostentatious showboat.

    Posted by: will | May 24, 2014 10:03:41 AM


  11. White gays are the ABSOLUTE WORST. They love piggy-backing on the black civil rights movement and acting as if their oppression is far worse. THIS IS NOT THE OPPRESSION OLYMPICS. Stop it. It just hurts your cause in the long run.

    Posted by: Derrick | May 24, 2014 10:10:53 AM


  12. Dress appropriately for work, or go and join the Circus!

    Posted by: BRAINS | May 24, 2014 11:06:44 AM


  13. I'm jumping on the bandwagon here, that Rosa Parks comparison he made just rubbed me the wrong way.

    Posted by: Isaac | May 24, 2014 11:26:57 AM


  14. No sympathy for this attention seeker. But, aside from that, Derrick, he is no Rosa Parks, but neither are you.

    Posted by: SoFla | May 24, 2014 11:38:30 AM


  15. That's not flamboyant? I would agree with his boss. His outfits are distracting.

    Posted by: Charles | May 24, 2014 11:51:55 AM


  16. I came to work in a tropical dress and a banana-and-grape fruit hat patterned on Carmen Miranda and they fired me! This is obviously gay-related.

    Posted by: will | May 24, 2014 12:02:14 PM


  17. Kane fears that he will never be able to work in TV again, blackballed and typecast as the "track suit guy" or the "gay guy."

    Maybe someone should remind him that he actually wore track suits and was out on the job. Therefore, whether he was fired, quit, resigned, transfered, etc. those labels could always follow him. I just find it sad that he willingly and consistently dressed in a certain manner and found it to be a positive thing, but know he wants to sue, his personal choices are bad and could blackball him.

    Posted by: EJ | May 24, 2014 12:37:53 PM


  18. Something tells me he is a lying sack of crap

    Posted by: Perry | May 24, 2014 12:45:12 PM


  19. How could anyone not know this guy is gay???

    His clown costumes were completely inappropriate for his job.

    If he didn't want to be known as "the track suit guy" (the least awful thing that could easily be said about him) then why did he dedicate his entire adult life to becoming being known as that?

    Posted by: oncemorewithreeling | May 24, 2014 1:26:04 PM


  20. BS

    Posted by: MOZ's | May 24, 2014 1:57:52 PM


  21. How embarrassing. Will nailed it. CNN has not one, but two openly gay anchors who carry themselves in a professional manner.

    He's worried about being blackballed??

    Suing your former employer on false claims is one way to get blackballed. Deservedly so.

    Posted by: Brian W. | May 24, 2014 4:22:24 PM


  22. Wildly inappropriate Rosa Parks comment aside, if he did get a "Notice of Right to Sue" from the EEOC then something questionable happened. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) conducts an investigation before they provide those letters.

    Posted by: alex | May 24, 2014 6:28:16 PM


  23. "Right to Sue" means nothing for the merits of a claim, nothing. It just means you jumped through the lowest level administrative hoop. Federal law requires employment discrimination claims to go first to an administrative agency, the EEOC. The EEOC tries to resolve it. If they can't, they issue a "Right to Sue" letter that allows the claimant to go to court. It never means the claimant has a leg to stand on.

    Posted by: SoFla | May 24, 2014 6:53:13 PM


  24. Every job has a dress code including the circus-if he wants to wear outrageous outfits he should do it on his days off.

    Posted by: jarago | May 24, 2014 6:58:54 PM


  25. Great way to sully Rosa Parks name.

    Posted by: greenfuzz | May 24, 2014 9:19:00 PM


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