Steven Bradley, ex-sports editor for the Democrat and Chronicle, a newspaper in Rochester, New York, has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was terminated because he is white. The former editor also alleges in the lawsuit that he was not hired later for a top management position at the Gannett-owned Utica Observer-Dispatch because of his race.
The case centers on a companywide effort begun in 2020 by Gannett to racially balance staffs at the roughly 500 U.S. publications it owns. In that effort, Gannett has pledged to racially balance newsroom staffs so that percentages of minority and female employees mirror the demographics of the population each of its publications serves. On its website, Gannett trumpets the program’s success with pie charts and graphs showing changes by racial/ethnic and gender categories since the diversity program’s kickoff.
Gannett’s drive to diversify staff has resulted in a de facto program of discrimination against non-minorities in which Gannett as a matter of policy preferentially retains or hires minority employees or job candidates to the detriment of equally or better qualified non-minority candidates, the court complaint maintains. The suit also alleges that “the Gannett employee tasked with overseeing talent recruitment and retention, Hollis Towns, informed Gannett managers that no more straight White males should be hired going forward.”
The suit comes against a backdrop of expected U.S. Supreme Court in rulings in June in cases separately challenging affirmative action programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. While such cases do not directly speak to the role of race in corporate hiring and retention policies, their outcome could affect how corporations like Gannett manage diversity programs.
Filed in the New York Supreme Court, the lawsuit seeks action status on behalf of others who think they were the victims of “reverse discrimination” within Gannett’s operations. The Bradley complaint does not precisely estimate how many downsized Gannett workers might be eligible to join the class action, stating the number to be too numerous to practically sue as individuals and at minimum to consist of “more than 40” persons.
If you have been the victim of discrimination or have questions about your rights as a worker, contact the attorneys of Pechman Law Group at 212-583-9500.