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[COMMUNITY] Racial Discrimination Suit at Billboard Magazine

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  • madchinaman
    Suit claims Billboard s bias was off the charts http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/296463p-253608c.html - . . according to the filing in New York State
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2005
      Suit claims Billboard's bias was off the charts
      http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/296463p-253608c.html


      -

      . . according to the filing in New York State Supreme Court, a
      Billboard official prepared a chart titled "Editorial Staff
      Demographics" and listed each employee by name, title and race -
      "caucasian," "african-american" or "asian or pacific islander."

      The chart was accompanied by an E-mail raising concerns about the
      friendship of two minority employees and whether it could lead to a
      lawsuit against the company.

      . . "Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I saw Carla and
      Samantha going to lunch together today. ... Samantha and Carla's
      budding friendship might not turn into anything that would result in
      a lawsuit, but I feel it's good to be aware of it and to just keep
      an eye on it. Better safe than sorry."

      -


      Is Billboard magazine, the so-called "Bible of the Music Industry,"
      guilty of racially profiling its employees?

      There's some eye-popping evidence in just-filed court papers from
      fired editors Keith Girard and Samantha Chang's $29 million lawsuit
      against the mag's upper management and Dutch-owned parent company,
      VNU Business Media Inc.

      In one instance, according to the filing in New York State Supreme
      Court, a Billboard official prepared a chart titled "Editorial Staff
      Demographics" and listed each employee by name, title and race -
      "caucasian," "african-american" or "asian or pacific islander."

      The chart was accompanied by an E-mail raising concerns about the
      friendship of two minority employees and whether it could lead to a
      lawsuit against the company.

      "This is truly reprehensible," said prominent labor lawyer Murray
      Schwartz, who is not connected to the case. "It's outrageous to
      think that people are going to be classified specifically because
      they're a member of a minority group. In 50 years of practicing law,
      I have never seen a company find it necessary to resort to such
      paranoia."

      Legendary labor lawyer Theodore Kheel, who is also unconnected to
      the lawsuit, told me that if the case goes to a jury, "I think that
      Billboard's going to lose. I think it sounds discriminatory and
      counts against them."

      Sending such E-mails "is silly," Kheel said, "especially in these
      days of discovery."

      There was no response to the detailed messages about the allegations
      I left with VNU officials and their lawyers.

      "The VNU spokesperson to whom I would normally convey such a request
      is out of the office today on vacation," a PR type E-mailed me. "I
      will therefore not be able to obtain a quote in time for your
      deadline."

      Last June, Lowdown broke the story of Girard and Chang's sensational
      suit alleging "gender and race-based discrimination, sexual
      harassment, retaliatory firings, intra-office sabotage and other
      wrongdoing ... in the offices of the music industry's leading trade
      publication."

      In the latest salvo, according to E-mails obtained by the
      plaintiffs, a VNU human resources official was worried in October
      2003, when senior editor Chang, an Asian-American, struck up a
      friendship with Billboard senior writer Carla Hay, an African-
      American.

      "Over the weekend I thought more about this possible Carla
      Hay/Samantha Chang alliance and I'm a little bit concerned," New
      York human resources manager Lisa Garris E-mailed her Los Angeles-
      based superior, Judy Bellamy, on Oct. 27. "The demographics of the
      editorial department in New York are that of mostly Caucasian males.
      There are only 4 minorities in the department here in NY ... 3 of
      which are women. ... This is just something we should be mindful of."

      The new court papers allege: "Three hours later, Garris expanded
      upon her concern in a subsequent E-mail to Bellamy ... "

      Garris' second E-mail said: "Maybe I am reading too much into this,
      but I saw Carla and Samantha going to lunch together today. ...
      Samantha and Carla's budding friendship might not turn into anything
      that would result in a lawsuit, but I feel it's good to be aware of
      it and to just keep an eye on it. Better safe than sorry."

      Plaintiffs' attorney Kyle Bisceglie - who has already taken E-mail
      author Garris' deposition and is petitioning the court to help him
      take Bellamy's deposition in California - told me:

      "This evidence is part of our case that shows the degree of systemic
      racial discrimination that exists at VNU. How far it goes is what
      we're trying to find out."
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