AT&T has been hit with a $100 million racial discrimination lawsuit accusing the company of having a culture of racism, TMZ.com reports.
The suit focuses on Aaron Slator, President of Content and Ad Sales for AT&T, who is also the head of U-verse and is reportedly a major player in the pending merger of AT&T and DirecTV. Slator “is being sued by a former 30-year employee of his company … claiming he has it out for African Americans and … using an alleged text message to prove it,” TMZ reports.
The suit was filed by Knoyme King, who reportedly worked under Slator as content coordinator.
“She claims Slator’s former assistant was transferring data from his old cellphone to a new one when she came across a text to one of Slator’s friends that allegedly had a picture of an African child with the caption, ‘It’s Friday N****s.’ Slator allegedly sent it to a friend with the message, ‘Oldie but goodie,'” TMZ reports.
The National Association of African American Owned Media and Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, who already have a $10 billion lawsuit in the works against AT&T and DirecTV, say they are seeking to amend that lawsuit using new evidence from the King suit.
In a press release, NAAAOM said: “Ms. King has included Slator’s racist texts and photos in her lawsuit as irrefutable evidence of institutionalized racism within the top management of AT&T. This confirms and corroborates the December 3, 2014 $10 billion racial discrimination lawsuit filed against AT&T and DirecTV, by the National Association of African American-Owned Media (‘NAAAOM’) and Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios. That suit also named Slator as the executive who refused to meet with Mr. Allen, an African-American, or take or return his phone calls for close to two years while Mr. Slator took Mr. Allen’s white counterparts out to breakfast, lunch, dinner and golf outings at Mr. Slator’s country club.”
Allen, the founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, says in the press release: “This is one of the worst moments in American corporate history. It’s deplorable that AT&T would treat anyone with such disrespect and racism, let alone, try and cover it up. All of this occurred at the highest levels of AT&T, and all of these executives must immediately resign. Further, President Obama and FCC Chairman Wheeler should not let AT&T acquire DirecTV. All Americans need to stand-up to AT&T and stop this racism.”
The NAAAOM statement notes that King’s lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court “against AT&T, Randall Stephenson (Chairman/CEO), Aaron Slator (President), Joyce Roche (Board Member), and current and former executives, John Stankey, Daniel York, Jeff Weber, and Ryan Smith.”
TMZ quotes an AT&T spokesperson commenting on the images involved in King’s lawsuit, saying the images “are offensive to everyone at AT&T” and adding that the company doesn’t “tolerate discrimination of any type by any employee.” The spokesperson indicated that the accusations would be investigated.