UPDATE: A Manhattan judge dismissed a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by two former Tonight Show cameramen, who accused the Roots’ Questlove of ordering them to be fired over an incident because they are white, The Daily News reports. The judge ruled that the cameramen would have to settle their claims in arbitration due to the collective bargaining agreement between their union and NBC.
Steve Wittels, the attorney for the two cameramen, said they hadn’t decided whether they would appeal the judge’s ruling. “We believe NBC wronged these employees, regardless of color,” Wittels said.
NBC and the Roots‘ Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) have been named in a lawsuit filed by two ex-employees of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Blast reports. Camera operators Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino claim the musician targeted them for termination following an incident because they are white.
According to the lawsuit, Decker and Cimino were camera operators for the show and last June they received an allegedly “unsolicited racist and misogynist text message from a Tonight Show stagehand.” They also claim Roots bassist Mark Kelley, who is African-American, also received the text. The plaintiffs claim they did not respond to the text and reported it to a Roots manager and an NBC technical production manager.
Decker and Cimino claim they were both suspended, though Kelley was not. The lawsuit also claims Thompson “pressured NBC to fire all of the Caucasian employees involved in the incident,” and they claim that Thompson insisted Kelley not be disciplined.
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A rep for Thompson denied the allegations in a statement to Rolling Stone: “Questlove denies the ridiculous allegations made in this lawsuit. Racism is REAL and exists throughout the world and for these gentlemen to claim victim is not only disrespectful to Questlove and his band mates, but to all that truly endure racism on a daily basis. As NBC already stated, the decisions made regarding these employees were made by NBC, alone.”
An NBC spokesperson tells Rolling Stone, “NBC is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. We have strong policies in place that protect against discrimination in any form. The decision about these plaintiffs was the company’s alone.”
Decker and Cimino are each seeking $1 million in damages.