Dick Jefferson, the CBS News producer who was gay bashed with a group of friends in St. Maarten in April 2006, has filed a $50 million lawsuit against CBS, according to Kenneth Walsh of Kenneth in the 212.
Jefferson says that after the incident he was warned by CBS News Senior Vice President Linda Mason not to speak out about the incident because it was too controversial. After Jefferson suggested to Mason that she was violating the network's anti-discrimination policies, by "controlling what he wrote in his e-mail messages from his personal account, requiring him to ask for permission to testify in open court against his attackers (they were eventually caught and convicted) and banning him from having contact with his friend and colleague, Ryan Smith, who was still hospitalized from the attack," he says she engaged in a systematic campaign of retaliation which eventually led to his being fired.
Reports Walsh: "When he first complained about the corporate interference in his personal life, Jefferson says Mason warned him that she could force him to take a leave of absence -- which would cause him to lose not only pay but critical health care insurance -- if he continued to pursue his "gay rights" cause. After his complaint of discrimination, Jefferson says Mason embarked on a retaliation campaign. Within weeks, she attempted to terminate his contract. Failing her first attempt, he says she began a fishing expedition, and built a fraudulent case against him, placed him on probation and then ultimately fired him. 'Surgeons repaired the damage the criminals did,' Jefferson said. 'Now, it is time to ease the pain and suffering CBS News executives inflicted. I felt like I was attacked again.'"
In response to Jefferson's plans, CBS released a statement to Fishbowl NY:
"The complaint that a press release from Dick Jefferson states he will file on Monday (25) is unequivocally baseless. Mr. Jefferson was terminated at the conclusion of his employment agreement due to legitimate issues with his performance that had been previously discussed with him. His allegations that Linda Mason discriminated against him could not be further from the truth. This complaint reveals a stunningly selective recall of the "facts," both real and imagined, including omission of the extraordinary lengths to which CBS News and, specifically, Ms. Mason, went to airlift him to safety and better medical treatment -- at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars paid for by the Company -- after the attack, which Mr. Jefferson suffered while on a personal vacation. Additionally, contrary to Mr. Jefferson's claims, CBS News also supported Mr. Jefferson's right to discuss the attack publicly and to seek justice, which he clearly did. CBS policy forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the company regularly educates its workforce about complying with that and other employment policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment. We will vigorously and aggressively defend ourselves against Mr. Jefferson's unwarranted complaint and his regrettably vicious and unconscionable attack on Ms. Mason's character."
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