Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) January 25, 2017 – On December 13, 2016, the California Appeals Court ruled that a producer and writer for CNN who was allegedly fired for a plagiarism incident may pursue racial discrimination and retaliation claims against the media giant.
Stanley Wilson, a longtime writer and producer for CNN, was fired after he allegedly failed to attribute credit to parts of a news piece that CNN did not run. Wilson’s lawsuit claims that, as an African-American, Wilson was only promoted once in his 13 years of work.
Wilson sued under California law for race, age, ancestry, disability discrimination and retaliation. CNN attempted to use the “anti-SLAPP law” (strategic lawsuit against public participation) to dismiss Wilson’s claims. The California anti-SLAPP law mandates that, if a lawsuit is infringing upon a party’s right to freedom of speech or participation in the legal process, then the party can ask the court to drop the case.
The Court ruled that the anti-SLAPP law did not apply to Wilson’s case, despite CNN’s arguments that allowing Wilson to sue over his termination would restrict CNN’s free speech rights for public interest. This ruling is a victory for workers with discrimination claims, especially in the media and entertainment industry. It indicates that these workers, who may sometimes be subject to their employer’s abuse of the anti-SLAPP law, can be protected when they file suits for cases of discrimination. As the Court indicated, discrimination is not the same as free speech.
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