Originally posted Wednesday, December 11, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
CNN terminated Atlanta-based employee Dewayne Walker after deciding his story that his boss threatened him with his life was a fabrication.
Walker, who had worked at the news operation for 16 years, had filed multiple lawsuits over the years against his employer claiming racial discrimination. All except the most recent lawsuits have been dismissed.
Last month, Walker - in his latest racial discrimination lawsuit against CNN - accused a superior Whit Friese of threatening him in a restroom, saying: “If you f*** with my money, I’ll kill you.”
Friese is CNN vice president of creative marketing. Walker was senior manager for integrated promotions within the creative marketing department.
The incident allegedly occurred in August and Walker was placed on administrative leave with pay while CNN investigated the veracity of his claims.
In a December 6 defense filing in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (case no: 1:19-cv-05194), CNN said it made this move for Walker’s safety. The company also noted that Friese was not actually Walker’s direct supervisor although their offices “were in close proximity to each other.”
In November’s lawsuit, Walker requested that he return to his job, saying being on administrative leave was damaging to his career and stature.
CNN said that Walker himself “did not try to minimize harm. Instead he spotlighted – forever on the internet - his unfounded accusation against Friese” by allowing his attorney to speak to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which wrote a story about his allegations last week.
In a statement attached to the ruling by CNN human resources employee Nicole Etheridge, “Mr. Friese denied making any threatening comments to Mr. Walker or even speaking to him in well over a year because of false allegations Mr. Walker made against Mr. Friese in his first, subsequently dismissed, lawsuit.”
CNN concluded that there was no evidence to support Walker’s allegations, calling them “not credible and had been fabricated.” The news network terminated him for making the false accusation, according to Etheridge’s statement.
According to his November 15 lawsuit, Walker filed for 31 jobs over the years that he did not get.
“As part of his barrage of complaints and legal claims,” CNN wrote, “Walker has applied for an astonishing number of jobs both at CNN and at various affiliated corporate entities in an effort to manufacture race discrimination and retaliation claims.”
CNN added: “It is patently obvious from the types of jobs for which he applied, the minimum qualifications required for the positions, and the fact that he binge-applied for multiple positions on the same day that Walker did not seriously believe he qualified for all or most of those jobs.”
Then CNN concluded: “None of his antics has influenced how CNN treated him. Throughout all the grievances and multiple legal actions, Walker remained employed and in fact received promotions, raises, bonuses and other valuable benefits.”
A hearing originally scheduled for December 11 before federal judge Richard Story to weigh whether to reinstate Walker back to work was cancelled.
As Walker’s attorney Mario Williams noted in a filing, “this hearing is moot due to recent events.”
(I was not aware that was the case and showed up to an empty courtroom Wednesday.)
Williams did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment but on Thursday provided this statement:
“As a basis for his termination, CNN stated that they had conducted an “investigation” and that CNN had determined his accusations to be “unfounded.” The inherent injustice of this “conclusion” is evident: two men walk into a room, one black, one white, an act of violence occurs, and only the white man’s version of events is credited. This tale is as old as our nation and as American as our nation’s racism. It is also a rancid act of retaliation and a transparent attempt to deprive Mr. Walker of his day in Court and delay CNN’s obligation to explain itself to an impartial arbiter. CNN’s termination of Mr. Walker mooted the TRO hearing for now. However Mr Walker’s lawsuit is ongoing and he will continue to hold CNN accountable for its pattern of race based discrimination and retaliation “
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