EMMY-HONORED SENIOR BROADCAST PRODUCER FILES $50 MILLION DOLLAR GAY-BASHING LAWSUIT AGAINST CBS NEWS
"I FELT LIKE I WAS ATTACKED AGAIN"
(New York) Fired CBS News Senior Broadcast Producer Dick Jefferson - almost murdered in a "barbaric" gay bashing by tire wrench while on vacation last spring - today (Monday June 24, 2007) filed a $50 million dollar lawsuit against CBS News alleging executives bashed him even more viciously than he had been in the St. Maarten attack before firing him.
"I thought I was in the twilight zone. I was back at work, simply seeking justice in St. Maarten, demanding that island authorities not ignore violent crimes against tourist- gay or straight. But some of my bosses made me feel like I was doing something wrong. I felt like I was attacked again," Jefferson said.
In St. Maarten, an ex-con named Duracell smashed Jefferson's skull with a tire wrench because he was gay. In New York, a senior vice president named Mason smashed Jefferson's distinguished 18-year CBS career with discrimination and fraud because he wanted his attackers pursued, according to the 30-page complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court.
Even before Jefferson returned from his vacation-from-hell permanently disfigured with a titanium plate in his head instead of a tan, "senior-level" CBS News executives had concluded the unprovoked assault on Jefferson and another employee was somehow "controversial" because of "sensitive issues" involved.
"For CBS to think there were some sort of 'sensitive issues' involved in this ambush only revealed their deeply-rooted bias against homosexuals," Jefferson charged, "No matter how hard you work, how much glory you bring, you are still gay -- and something else must have gone on."
CBS News Senior Vice President Linda Mason, who is also named individually in the lawsuit, maliciously thought Jefferson was not a crime victim seeking justice, but a "gay rights" advocate. That biased conclusion prompted Mason to threaten Jefferson with a forced leave of absence if he continued his "advocacy," and to prohibit public comments about his personal vacation nightmare without prior approval.
On June 13, 2006, Mason went so far as to censor a personal email to the media that Jefferson wanted to send when he got word his assailant had surrendered. Mason thought Jefferson's calling his attackers, "animals," was not proper, and that the sentence, "I certainly did not choose to be beaten within a millimeter of my life just to be gay," was controversial. Mason insisted both be deleted before he could send the rest of the message.
He complied, but during a meeting the next day, Jefferson asked Mason if she would do the same thing if an African American employee had been attacked, or a woman raped?
"Are you accusing me of discrimination," Mason exploded. Then, she glared at Jefferson and sternly reminded him that she "makes the rules."
New York State and New York City prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and retaliation for complaints alleging discrimination. New York Labor Law §201(d) also protects individuals from work place discrimination based on non-work related leisure activities and relationships.
Ironically, Mason is the CBS News Division executive in charge of enforcing the corporate policy that CBS will not tolerate any form of harassment on the account of sexual orientation. Yet, Mason not only ignored Jefferson's complaint of discrimination, she retaliated against him for making it.
Within weeks, she attempted to have the award-winning Senior Broadcast Producer terminated. Failing her first attempt, she began a fishing expedition for complaints, built a fraudulent case against Jefferson, and placed him on probation.
"I loved CBS News and believed in it. I couldn't believe that new executives who are supposed to be protecting the truth were making up lies," Jefferson said.
Warned that a single complaint--legitimate or not -- would end his distinguished career, Jefferson asked bluntly if he would be fired for reprimanding some of his staff on August 27, 2006, for their lack of effort during a breaking news event. He was told absolutely, "No," by his executive producer Patricia Shevlin, who was also named individually in the lawsuit.
That was only because Mason's retaliation had to be put on hold. Jefferson was too critical to CBS News to fire in early September. He was the sole person who knew all the preparation details of the highly technical systems that would be used on election night, Katie Couric's first as anchor of CBS News.
Induced to believe his job was still secure, Jefferson worked non-stop until the election, including 200 hours in the last 10 days alone, was praised "for holding things together," and personally thanked by Couric for the success of her inaugural election night.
Two days later, still suffering from extreme exhaustion, Jefferson's physician ordered him to the emergency room for treatment. CBS News executives encouraged him to take a full week to recover before returning to work. The day he did, November 20, 2007, Mason fired him based upon the "incident" nearly three months before that he was assured he would not be fired.
"The judge in St. Maarten went out of his way to say my attackers - strangers I didn't even know-- were driven by discrimination and contempt for other people, found them guilty and sentenced them to prison. Turns out my bosses - friends I had known for years -- had more contempt and did more damage. I'm sure a New York jury will be just as wise as that St. Maarten judge," Jefferson added.
Apparently corporate America in New York City is just as homophobic as in the hinterlands. Perhaps they are just more sophisticated about discriminating! What difference would it have made had he been a "gay activist," which he clearly was not, but a gay person seeking justice after being clobbered with a tire wrench for being perceived as gay. Oh, I keep forgetting in Senior Vice President Linda Mason's view, seeking justice by a gay person must equal gay activism! That bitch has a set of balls, I mean, ovaries! I hope Dick gets the $50 million and the vindication that even CBS's vice presidents and other high ranking corporate officers are not above the law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. At least NYC has that law.
posted by richard schillen, at
6/25/2007 1:03 PM
Time to start calling CBS---maybe some 'actup' activity in from of the CBS building with lots o noise and signs will change that bigoted bitch's mind. I hope he gets every penny in that law suit! Red V
posted by Anonymous, at
6/25/2007 2:10 PM
I hope Dick Jefferson makes a whole lot of noise about this one. Just goes to show, living in NYC doesn't guarantee that you'll find less homophobia than you would in a red state. Its clear that homophobia is alive and well in our state.
Homophobia is everywhere, in the hearts and minds of men and women in all places. It always produces this type of idiocy, like the fact that certain people don't want the word "gay" mentioned. I think our job is to give them a good smackdown when their homophobia breaks the law, as it may have done here (if all of the accusations are true). Both sides will have the opportunity to present their case to the jury, and if the facts do indeed show that CBS broke the law, they should pay.
posted by Chris L., at
6/26/2007 12:29 PM
It's sad how muhc our world has progressed. But yet, still lives so much in the past. I've long feared that homophobia will never disappear. Still in the business industry its alive and pulsing, as if a disease and sickness of the mind.
I always love it how speaking up against cruelty and unfairness to gays makes one an "gay activist"--even if the person concerned is you! Mus'nt get too emotionally involved with your own life, now! Sheesh; the Religious Right couldn't have done better.
I suppose there are still 'liberals' for whom a "faggot" is that gay man who has just left the room.
posted by Anonymous, at
6/27/2007 3:06 PM
In my opinion, this is one reason why pending hate crimes legislation is so important - despite the con-servative con-job whining that it makes one victim more "special" than another. . .
If someone attacks a member of their group, there isn't a thought about whether it is "controversial" - as if they smugly believe that it is much too rare for a heterosupremacist to be attacked for being a straight white dude.
On the other hand, they automatically consider the same crime against a gay person as "controversial," and then try to tell the public everyone should be treated exactly the same. It's the same shell game they've played for decades - the same game played when they lower a sentence for a gay basher for invoking the infamous "gay panic" defense - then whine the core issue cannot be addressed because we can't examine the hate speech of heterosupremacists.