CNN Beats Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

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CNN is clear of a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by an employee who says he was repeatedly passed up for promotions, after a Georgia federal judge granted summary judgment in the network's favor. 

Dewayne Walker in 2015 sued CNN, Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting, claiming he was denied nine promotions in 2014 and 2015 because of his race and that he was retaliated against for complaining about discrimination in the workplace. Nine of those positions were related to a restructuring of one segment of CNN's marketing department, of which Walker wasn't a part.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Catherine M. Salinas in December issued a recommendation that the court grant summary judgment in favor of CNN. She found the company didn't seek applications from people outside of the marketing department subgroup that was restructuring for the seven of those jobs, that the eighth went to a qualified applicant, and Walker never applied for the ninth. She also found the adverse employment actions he alleges happened long after his internal complaints to human resources, and he failed to show a causal link. (Read the report in full below.)

Walker objected to her findings related to his racially discriminatory failure-to-promote claims, but did not object to her findings regarding his retaliation claim. 

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story on Monday overruled Walker's objections, adopted Salinas' recommendation as the opinion of the court, and granted CNN's motion for summary judgment.

To succeed on his claims related to being rejected for seven positions that were not open for applications, Walker would have to prove he belongs to a racial minority, he was qualified for and applied for a position the employer needed to fill, he was denied the position, and someone who was not a member of his protected class was hired. 

Story found Walker didn't demonstrate CNN was seeking applicants to fill positions for which he was qualified and granted summary judgment in favor of the network on the failure-to-promote claims. CNN conceded that he met that bar for the position of New York Account Director, but the court found the network sufficiently showed it hired someone else for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason. 

The company in July beat a similar lawsuit from two former Time Warner employees who alleged systematic discrimination within CNN and TBS.