Gannett has stumbled upon a roadblock in its effort to diversify the company.
Five individuals have filed a federal class action lawsuit, alleging that they were discriminated against because they were “non-minorities.”
The five plaintiffs are Steven Bradley, Stephen Crane, Noah Hiles, Barbara Augsdorfer and Logan Barry.
The suit asks for class-action status and seeks to bring in other plaintiffs.
Bradley is a former sportswriter and editor who worked at the upstate New York Democrat & Chronicle for 21 years.
In April, Bradley filed a suit with the Supreme Court of the State of New York for Monroe County, claiming he was terminated based on race.
In the federal case, Bradley alleges that “the Democrat and Chronicle’s executive editor commented that he decided to terminate Mr. Bradley’s employment rather than another worker, Mark Liu, because Mr. Liu was Asian and Mr. Bradley was White.”
In addition, the complaint charges that “Gannett chose not to hire Bradley on the basis of his race and instead went outside the applicant pool and hand selected a candidate that, irrespective of her qualifications, satisfied the quotas Gannett was seeking to achieve,” the complaint continues.
None of the other plaintiffs had the lengthy tenure of Bradley.
The plaintiffs challenge Gannett’s diversity policy, claiming that “Gannett’s commitment is simple, to hire and promote a certain percentage of individuals on the basis of their skin color and without regard to the relevant applicant pool.”
The plaintiffs are seeking an award for the value of lost wages and fringe benefit, and punitive and compensatory damages.
Gannett denies that there was any such
"Gannett always seeks to recruit and retain the most qualified individuals for all roles within the company. We will vigorously defend our practice of ensuring equal opportunities for all our valued employees against this meritless lawsuit," Polly Grunfeld Sack, chief legal counsel for Gannett, tells Publisher's Daily.
This story was updated.