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Bombshell Suit Against "White People" Magazine

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Returning September 1

Complaint Cites Story Choices, Pale Time Inc. Leadership

CNN.com's D.C. Restructuring Means Fewer Blacks

ACLU Says Ferguson Events Brought Setbacks to the Press

For Next Week, the New Yorker's Cover Is Personal

White House Said to Rely on Sharpton for Ferguson Info

Politico Hires Eva Rodriguez, a Latina, as Senior Editor

Washington Post Editorial Board Won't Use "Redskins"

"White-on-White Murder in America Is Out of Control"

Short Takes


Text of Tatsha Robertson complaint

Tatsha Robertson, at right, says in her lawsuit that she was "the only Black Sen

Complaint Cites Story Choices, Pale Time Inc. Leadership

A discrimination lawsuit filed by black journalist Tatsha Robertson against her former employer, People magazine, is notable because it cites People's editorial choices and the makeup of the leadership of the parent company, Time Inc., as evidence of discrimination, Robertson's lawyer told Journal-isms on Friday.

"Maybe they should call it White People magazine," Dareh Gregorian wrote in reporting on the suit Wednesday night for the Daily News in New York.

"The recently [laid off] lone black editor of People says she was discriminated against by her boss, and that the popular magazine is biased against African-Americans in general.

"People is 'a discriminatory organization run entirely by white people who intentionally focus the magazine on stories involving white people and white celebrities,' Tatsha Robertson's bombshell lawsuit says.

"The 48-year-old Robertson, 'the only Black Senior Editor the magazine has ever had,' was laid off in May, according to the suit.

"She says only five of the mag’s 110 employees were black, and that now-former executive editor Betsy Gleick treated her like a second class-citizen when she came to the magazine from another Time Inc. publication, Essence, in 2010.

" 'You need to talk like everyone else here. You're not at Essence anymore,' Gleick is quoted in the suit as saying. . . ."

David Gottleib, Robertson's lawyer, told Journal-isms by telephone that he was surprised that Time Inc. did not issue the customary denials of the assertions in the lawsuit. Instead, Time has had no comment.

Asked what other journalists of color might find noteworthy about the suit, the lawyer said it was significant that it includes coverage choices as evidence of discrimination.

"The discriminatory environment in which Ms. Robertson was forced to work also permeated the pages of People Magazine," according to the complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. "Indeed, Ms. Gleick has repeatedly insisted that the only types of stories she and People Magazine were interested in printing were those concerning: 'White middle-class suburbia.'

"Examples of this openly espoused discriminatory worldview at People Magazine are abundant.

"For instance, in February 2014, Ms. Robertson pitched a story regarding the death of Samira Frasch, an African-American model whose husband was a person of interest in her apparent murder.

"Despite the fact that this story was picked up by a number of media outlets, including CNN, Ms. Gleick responded to Ms. Robertson's pitch by stating that the victim looked like a 'slut' and refused to print the story because the victim was Black, telling Ms. Robertson:

" 'You know the rule — White suburban women in distress.'

"Tellingly, People Magazine ran an extremely similar story approximately one month later about a White model, Monica Olsen, whose husband reportedly attempted to have her murdered.

"The fact that Ms. Gleick would expressly decline to run a story because the victim was Black, yet run an extremely similar (though arguably even less compelling) story about a White victim, is illustrative of the racial biases condoned at People and which resulted in disparate treatment towards Ms. Robertson.

"By way of another example, People Magazine was at one point looking into a potential story concerning a woman who had been killed by her husband.

"Everyone at People Magazine was interested in the story, including Ms. Gleick, as well as another Top Editor and Executive at People Magazine.

"However, upon viewing a picture of the victim and realizing she was Black, the editor immediately changed his mind.

"The editor sent an email to Ms. Gleick (and copied Ms. Robertson) with a copy of the picture and the statement, in sum and substance, that:

"She'll never make it into People.' . . ."

The complaint also says, "All seven of People Magazine's Top Editors — the level above Ms. Robertson — are White, and People has never had a single Black Top Editor.

"Incredibly, this utter lack of leadership diversity is not limited to People Magazine, but, as shown on Time, Inc.'s own website, every single one of the 11 members of Time, Inc.'s 'Leadership' is White. . . . "

CNN.com's D.C. Restructuring Means Fewer Blacks

Three black journalists in CNN's Washington Bureau, including Bryan Monroe, a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, are leaving, have left or are at risk of leaving as a new executive reorganizes its CNN.com political unit.

Monroe is Washington editor for opinion at CNN and cnn.com, Halimah Abdullah is a political writer and web producer, and Shannon Travis is a television reporter on the political team.

Bryan Monroe They are among a larger group affected by a restructuring of the politics team as it gears up for the 2016 elections. Those who have not been laid off have been told they must reapply for new positions with new job descriptions.

Peter Sterne wrote Aug. 7 for capitalnewyork.com, "More than a dozen employees in CNN's Digital Politics division learned this week that their positions will be eliminated at the end of the month, Capital has learned."

In May, CNN hired Ed O'Keefe as vice president of CNNMoney and Politics. "The CNN.com political team now numbers approximately 20 people, according to a network spokesman; the plan is to double that staff in preparation for the 2016 presidential election," Erik Wemple wrote in June for the Washington Post.

In the meantime, some are being left behind, including journalists of color. Monroe came to CNN in 2011 and was editor of cnnpolitics.com before assuming the opinion editorship. He supervised one of the most diverse units in the network.

Abdullah, the only writer of color on the political team, arrived at the site in 2012 after having worked briefly at NBC's Today.com and as Washington correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers from 2007 to 2012. At CNN, she wrote about such topics as the school-to-prison pipeline and its impact on black and brown children, the Republican Party and race, and immigration policy.

Halimah Abdullah

Travis has been at CNN since 2005. He says on his LinkedIn profile, "Among the stories Travis has covered: the death of Nelson Mandela; the Boston bombings, exclusively interviewing the uncle of the bombing suspects; the government shutdown and debt ceiling battle; the George Zimmerman trial; the Washington Navy Yard shootings; the historic same-sex marriage cases at the Supreme Court; President Obama's second inauguration; and the death of Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards."

CNN journalists have said privately that despite the increased visibility of such black journalists as anchor Don Lemon, CNN has a diversity problem in its management. And in the digital unit, most of those brought back are said to be young, white workers.

Last week, Journal-isms asked Edie Emery, a spokeswoman for CNN, how the latest changes would affect diversity. "We don't comment on personnel matters," she replied by email. [Added Aug. 23]

In the latest installment of "BrotherSpeak," a video series that the Washington Post is producing in cooperation with the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, black men in Ferguson, Mo., express their hurt, anger and hope. (video)

ACLU Says Ferguson Events Brought Setbacks to the Press

"It is not a great time to be a journalist in America," Noa Yachot, a communications strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote Thursday for the Huffington Post.

"The assault on the First Amendment by militarized police in Ferguson, Mo., continues unabated, and the press is not spared. Since the start of protests against the August 9 killing of Michael Brown, journalists in Ferguson have been arrested, fired on, threatened, and assaulted.

"After more than a week of heavy-handed police violence — through the use of tactics and weapons better suited for a [war zone] than an American suburb — freedoms of speech and the press were dealt a major legal blow on Tuesday.

"A federal court denied a motion from the ACLU of Missouri for an emergency order to prevent police from enforcing a ban on standing in place for more than five seconds. The 'keep-moving mandate' (also known as the five-second rule) remains in place, criminalizing constitutionally protected activity and placing a dangerous barrier on the ability of the media to bring us stories from this city under siege. As Tony Rothert, the legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, told MSNBC, 'In many ways, the First Amendment has been suspended in Ferguson.'

"This defeat came on the heels of an earlier victory, in which the ACLU of Missouri reached an agreement with the police, stating that members of the public and the press can record on-duty police officers. That was good news — except it should never have been up for debate, because you always have the right to photograph what's plainly visible in public. Including the police.' . . ."

For Next Week, the New Yorker's Cover Is Personal

The New Yorker

" 'The police shooting of Michael Brown resonates on a personal level with me,' Eric Drooker says about next week's cover, which was inspired by images from the scene," Mina Kaneko and Francoise Mouly wrote Friday about the Sept. 1 issue of the New Yorker.

They also wrote, " 'An artist friend of mine was killed by a cop in lower Manhattan, back in 1991. He happened to be black, and the police officer was never indicted.'

Drooker continues, 'As a resident of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, I witnessed the blurring distinctions between the police and military during the Tompkins Square riots of the eighties. I'll never forget the day the N.Y.P.D. showed up in a military tank to evict nonviolent squatter friends from buildings on Avenue B and Thirteenth Street, where I grew up. This incident triggered a vivid childhood memory of the police driving a similar armored tank on East Fourteenth street, in 1968, to quell possible 'disturbances' after Martin Luther King was assassinated.

" 'Of course, rubber bullets, tear gas, and Tasers have been used for a while — on nonviolent anti-war protests at the dawn of the Iraq invasion, not to mention Occupy — but the U.S. media has often chosen to ignore these images. Now that billions have been spent and the equipment is in place throughout the country, the intensive militarization of America's police forces is finally being acknowledged after the horrors of Ferguson.' "

White House Said to Rely on Sharpton for Ferguson Info

"Politico Magazine writes the Obama administration leaned on MSNBC's Al Sharpton for information after the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri," Jordan Chariton reported Friday for TVNewser.

Glenn Thrush began his 2,700-word piece for Politico Magazine:

"A few days after 18-year-old Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, White House officials enlisted an unusual source for on-the-ground intelligence amid the chaos and tear gas: the Rev. Al Sharpton, a fiery activist who became a household name by provoking rather than pacifying.

"Sharpton — once such a pariah that Clinton administration officials rushed through their ribbon-cuttings in Harlem for fear he'd show up and force them to, gasp, shake his hand — arrived on the scene 72 hours after the shooting at the request of Brown's grandfather, who had admired his advocacy on behalf of the family of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

"But if the old Al Sharpton would have parachuted into Ferguson to rile up the masses, the Obama-era Al Sharpton trod a more gingerly path to justice. Over the years, the 59-year-old former Brooklyn protest leader turned MSNBC talk-show host has embraced a new identity, one that reflects his evolution from agitator to insider with all that implies.

"In Ferguson, Sharpton established himself as a de facto contact and conduit for a jittery White House seeking to negotiate a middle ground between meddling and disengagement. 'There's a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down,' a White House official familiar with their dealings told me. 'He gets it, and he's got credibility in the community that nobody else has got. There's really no one else out there who does what he does.'

"And the White House, as the crisis following Brown's death seemed to flare out of control, worked extensively behind the scenes to maximize The Rev's doing what he does, using him as both a source of information and a go-between. After huddling with Brown's family and local community leaders, Sharpton connected directly with White House adviser and First Friend Valerie Jarrett, vacationing in her condo in the exclusive Oak Bluffs section of Martha's Vineyard, not far from where President Obama and his family were staying.

"Obama was 'horrified' by the images he was seeing on TV, Jarrett told Sharpton, and proceeded to pepper him with questions as she collected information for the president: How bad was the violence? Was it being fueled by outside groups — and could Sharpton do anything to talk them down? What did the Brown family want the White House to do? . . ."

Politico Hires Eva Rodriguez, a Latina, as Senior Editor

"Editorial writer Eva Rodríguez has left the Washington Post to become Senior Editor at Politico magazine," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site. "She had been at the Post for the last 7 years in several roles.

"Her first day on the new job was this past Monday, August 18. . . ."

News of Rodriguez's hire comes as Politico is under increasing scrutiny for its scant diversity. "Considering that Politico has produced over 2,7000 stories about Latinos and that the U.S. Latino vote continues to be a newsworthy topic during election cycles . . . the site's Latino staffing record is dismal," Julio Ricardo Varela wrote Monday for his Latino Rebels site. "No executives. No Latino political journalists who fall under the 'star system' category . . . ."

Valera was following up on a piece by Tracie Powell of alldigitocracy.com Sunday reporting that diversity at the print-and-digital site was "worse than it was two years ago in that the number of black journalists working at Politico has dropped by half."

Editor-in-chief John F. Harris signaled Tuesday that he would respond to Journal-isms on the criticism but did not.

Meanwhile, Politico has posted student work from the Politico Journalism Institute Class of 2014, a joint project of Politico, the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and American University.

Mike Carey, retired NFL referee, asked not to be assigned to Washington Redskins

Washington Post Editorial Board Won't Use "Redskins"

"The Washington Post editorial board said Friday it will stop using the word 'Redskins' when referring to Washington's football team, joining a growing list of other commentators who have renounced the term because they believe it disparages Native Americans," Annys Shin and Liz Clarke reported Friday for the Post.

"In a statement, the board said, 'While we wait for the NFL to catch up with thoughtful opinion and common decency we have decided not to use the slur ourselves except when it is essential for clarity or effect.'

"The editorial board is separate from the news-gathering side of the organization, which executive editor Marty Baron said will continue to use the team's moniker.

" 'The Post's newsroom and the editorial page operate independently of each other,' Baron said. 'Standard operating policy in the newsroom has been to use the names that established institutions choose for themselves. That remains our policy, as we continue to vigorously cover controversy over the team’s name and avoid any advocacy role on this subject.' . . ."

The Post editorial said, "We were impressed this week by the quiet integrity of Mike Carey, who recently retired after 19 seasons as one of the NFL's most respected referees. As recounted by Post columnist Mike Wise, Mr. Carey asked the league not to assign him to officiate any Washington games and, since 2006, the league granted his request. He never made any announcement about it. 'It just became clear to me that to be in the middle of the field, where something disrespectful is happening, was probably not the best thing for me,' Mr. Carey said."

On Washington's public radio station WAMU-FM this month, sports writer Dave McKenna challenged the argument that the Post always honors the names an institution takes for itself. McKenna contended on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" that the Post and other organizations "won't use racially-charged words or gender slurs in their articles. They'll use asterisks or something. And like a band that I liked as a younger man, The Dead Kennedys. When The Dead Kennedys came out they would not call them in reviews. They would call them The DKs. And so there is precedent for them. . . ."

McKenna told Journal-isms Friday by email, "i never talked to anybody at the paper about it and have no idea what the background is, but if you go through the archives and search for 'jello biafra' -'kennedys' you'll find the review where this up and coming punk band was called the DKs. 'dead kennedys' doesnt show up anywhere. (i did this a few weeks ago just to make sure i wasn't senile! and it's still there!)"

However, McKenna conceded, "the Post started using 'dead kennedys' as the band grew for sure."

"White-on-White Murder in America Is Out of Control"

" 'Blacks represent 13% of the population but commit 50% of the murders; 90% of black victims are murdered by other blacks,' writes Time's Joe Klein, calling for 'provocative' thinking on race in America. 'The facts suggest that history is not enough to explain this social disaster,' " Matthew Yglesias wrote Thursday for vox.com under the headline, "White-on-white murder in America is out of control."

"Yet the disturbing truth, according to the FBI's most recent homicide statistics, is that the United States is in the wake of an epidemic of white-on-white crime. Back in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, a staggering 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians.

"This is not to say that white people are inherently prone to violence. Most whites, obviously, manage to get through life without murdering anyone. And there are many countries full of white people — Norway, Iceland, France, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — where white people murder each other at a much lower rate than you see here in the United States.

"On the other hand, although people often see criminal behavior as a symptom of poverty, the quantity of murder committed by white people specifically in the United States casts some doubt on this. Per capita GDP is considerably higher here than in France — and the white population in America is considerably richer than the national average — and yet we have more white murderers.

"To understand the level of cultural pathology at work here, it's important to understand that 36 percent of those killed by whites are women — a far higher share than you see with black murderers. . . ."

Yglesias wrote after Steven Chapman took on the subject this week in his Chicago Tribune column. "There's another, bigger problem with the preoccupation with 'black-on-black crime,' " Chapman wrote. "The term suggests race is the only important factor. Most crimes are committed by males, but we don't refer to 'male-on-male crime.' Whites in the South are substantially more prone to homicide than those in New England, but no one laments 'Southerner-on-Southerner crime.' Why does crime involving people of African descent deserve its own special category?

"The phrase stems from a desire to excuse whites from any role in changing the conditions that breed delinquency in poor black areas. It carries the message that blacks are to blame for the crime that afflicts them — and that only they can eliminate it. Whites are spared any responsibility in the cause or the cure. . . ."

Short Takes

  • Marcus MabryMarcus Mabry, a digital editor of the New York Times and an author, was elected president of the Overseas Press Club of America, "a 75-year-old organization that awards the most prestigious prizes devoted exclusively to international news coverage," the press club announced on Thursday.

  • "Nogales, Ariz., municipal officials are engaged in a dispute about free speech and journalism ethics with commentators at the city's top radio station, claiming the on-air personalities have a financial motive for a perceived smear campaign against them," Paul Giblin reported Thursday for the Arizona Republic. Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino and the majority of City Council members "claim that news coverage and commentary about city matters on KOFH-FM 99.1 turned negative after the city stopped paying the radio station for news interviews when Garino took office in 2011. . . ."

  • "Imagine our dismay Tuesday morning when we opened the paper to read a most offensive subhead atop a Loop item about Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and his staff," Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz wrote Tuesday in their "In the Loop" column for the Washington Post. "The copy editor who wrote it — a brilliant and supremely reliable colleague who had a bad day — was attempting to evoke the Texas origins of the secretary and his aides. He has apologized." The National Association of Hispanic Journalists Friday condemned the subhead, "We'll need more fajitas." NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina said that the Post should not have waited a day to apologize and that the incident shows the need for more Latinos on staff. The Post reported a newsroom 2.7 percent Latino in the latest census [PDF] of the American Society of News Editors.

  • Gerrick Kennedy, music writer for the Los Angeles Times and the National Association of Black Journalists' "Emerging Journalist of the Year" for 2012, is profiled in the gay pubication the Advocate as one of the 40 emerging voices under 40.

  • Three journalists of color have been hired at WEYI-TV/WBSF-TV/EEYI-TV in the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Mich., market, acquired last year by conservative commentator Armstrong Williams: Jesse Gonzales, photographer; Jiquanda Johnson, digital producer, and Nicky Zizaza, reporter.

  • A. Peter Bailey, an aide to Malcolm X and recent author of a book about their time together, wrote a column for TriceEdneyWire.com this week, "The Numerous Ways That Black Folks Sustain White Supremacy," that is reminiscent of the philosophy Bailey and Malcolm shared.

  • Essence Communications Friday announced an extended agreement with the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans to host the annual Essence Festival, held on the July 4 weekend, through 2019.

  • Keith Harriston, one of the Washington Post's top local editors for six years, including 18 months as metropolitan editor, on Monday joined George Washington University as senior managing editor of GW Today, the official online news source for the university.

  • "Liberian journalists are said to be of no exception to the night time nationwide curfew imposed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf but the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has written the Information Ministry to grant reprieve to journalists during the curfew hours," the News in Monrovia reported. Liberia is struggling with efforts to contain the Ebola virus. A Wednesday announcement said only health workers, utility workers and airline passengers and crew are exempt from the curfew.

  • "The Venezuelan Association of Foreign Journalists (Apevex) put out a statement on Wednesday denouncing the government of Nicolás Maduro over their attempts to 'silence journalists and independent media,' ” PanAm Post reported on Friday. "In the last week, the Venezuelan government shut down the Radio Caracas Radio (RCR) program Aquí entre tú y yo (Between You and Me) and suspended the 22-year-old independent radio station Sensacional 94.7 FM. . . ."

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Text of Tatsha Robertson complaint against People magazine

-----------------------------------------------------------------

TATSHA ROBERTSON, Plaintiff,

V.

PEOPLE MAGAZINE; TIME, INC. d/b/a PEOPLE MAGAZINE, and BETSY GLEICK, in her professional and personal capacities, Defendants

Demand for Jury Trial

Defendants.

Plaintiff Tatsha Robertson ("Plaintiff '), by and through undersigned counsel, Wigdor LLP, as and for the Complaint in this action against Defendants People Magazine, Time, Inc. ("Time Inc." or the "Company") and Betsy Gleick (altogether "Defendants"), hereby states and alleges as follows:

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

1. Every day, millions of readers pick up a People Magazine, open its glossy cover filled with celebrity photographs, and flip through its pages containing sensational human interest stories. Little do these readers know, behind the cover and pages of People Magazine, is a discriminatory organization run entirely by White people who intentionally focus the magazine on stories involving White people and White celebrities.

2. Plaintiff Tatsha Robertson — who is African-American — worked as a Senior Editor for People Magazine for approximately five years and for the parent company, Time, Inc. for approximately eight years. During her tenure at People Magazine she was the sole African- American editor, and she is the only Black Senior Editor the magazine has ever had: When it came time to lay off an editor in connection with a purported reduction in force, Ms. Robertson was selected despite her unparalleled and award-winning performance. At the time of her termination, she was only one of only approximately five African-American employees in People Magazine's print staff, totaling approximately 110 employees.

3. This action seeks declaratory, injunctive and equitable relief, as well as monetary damages, to redress Defendants' unlawful conduct including unlawful discrimination against Plaintiff in violation of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. §1981 et seq. ("Section 1981"), the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y. City Administrative Code §§ 8- 101 et seq. ("NYCHRL").

4. Defendants' conduct is also in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). For these violations, Plaintiff will be filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and will file an Amended Complaint following receipt of a Notice of Right to Sue.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

5. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff s claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343, because Plaintiff s Section 1981 claims arise under the laws of the United States. This Court has supplemental subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' related state and local law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

6. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to this action, including the unlawful employment practices alleged herein, occurred in this district.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES

7. Ms. Robertson will be filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and will file an Amended Complaint following receipt of a Notice of Right to Sue.

8. Following the commencement of this action, a copy of this Complaint will be served both on the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, thereby satisfying the notice requirements of the NYCHRL.

9. Any and all other prerequisites to the filing of this suit have been met.

PARTIES

10. Plaintiff Tatsha Robertson is a former Senior Editor at People Magazine who currently resides in Weehawken, New Jersey. At all relevant times herein, Ms. Robertson has met the definition of "employee" under all applicable statutes.

11. Defendants People Magazine and Time Inc. d/b/a People Magazine is a foreign business corporation with a principal place of business located at Delaware. At all relevant times herein, Defendants met the definition of "employer" under all relevant statutes.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Background

12. In or around April 2006, Ms. Robertson began her employment with Time, Inc. as a News Editor at Essence Magazine ("Essence").

13. While at Essence, Ms. Robertson excelled from the start and was quickly promoted to Deputy Editor in 2008.

14. During her time with Essence, Ms. Robertson received positive performance reviews across-the-board and never received any documented disciplinary action of any kind.

15. Furthermore, Ms. Robertson won approximately 16 different awards, including, but not limited to, the Henry Luce Public Service Award (one of Time, Inc.' s most prestigious awards) in 2008, and approximately 12 awards from the National Association of Black Journalists.

16. Ms. Robertson's work at Essence was also instrumental in Essence being awarded the Henry Luce Magazine of the Year Award for 2008.

17. Ms. Robertson was also responsible for running Essence.com and oversaw a 30 million "pageview" increase during her supervision of the website.

18. In addition, Ms. Robertson also excelled at covering the White House and President Barack Obama.

19. Ms. Robertson created Essence's White House bureau and was able to obtain an exclusive interview for Essence with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (conducted by Gwen Ifill) and his family during the 2008 campaign.

20. While at Essence, Ms. Robertson also was able to obtain key interviews with other Presidential candidates, including Senator John McCain, as well as various cabinet members, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

21. In fact, Essence's coverage of the 2008 election and White House was so outstanding that it was reported by the New York Times, MSNBC and CNN.

22. Prior to Ms.- Robertson's efforts, it was always People Magazine that was recognized for its top coverage of the White House amongst Time Inc. publications.

23. However, due in no small part to Ms. Robertson's contributions, Essence began rivaling People Magazine with regard to its coverage of the President and the White House.

24. Therefore, not surprisingly, Ms. Robertson was recruited for a position at People by Time, Inc.'s Human Resources ("HR") department. 25. In 2009, Ali DeBiasi (a Time, Inc. HR employee) reached out to Ms. Robertson to inquire as to whether she was interested in joining People Magazine as a Senior Editor.

26. Ultimately, Ms. Robertson was offered and accepted the position.

27. However, the decision to accept was not without reservation. Indeed, before Ms. Robertson accepted the position, a former top Executive at Time, Inc. gave Ms. Robertson an ominous warning; specifically, that,

"Several African Americans have had problems with Betsy, and I would not recommend that every African American work for People [Magazine] because some have struggled under the culture [of People Magazine]."

28. Nevertheless, Ms. Robertson accepted the offer to join People.

Discriminatory Work Environment

29. Immediately upon starting with People Magazine, Ms. Robertson was warned by yet another employee — this time a Black staff writer — of Ms. Gleick' s discriminatory attitudes in the workplace.

30. As Ms. Robertson would soon learn firsthand, this staff writer - who had attempted to build a diversity program at People Magazine and was forced out of People Magazine shortly after Ms. Robertson began there -explained that Ms. Gleick treated Black people poorly in comparison with her treatment of White colleagues.

31. Shortly after she began working for People Magazine, Ms. Robertson was the target of one of these discriminatory comments. During one of her first evaluations, Ms. Gleick critiqued Ms. Robertson, explaining:

"You need to talk like everyone else here. You're not at Essence anymore."

32. As virtually "everyone else" at People Magazine was and is White, and given that Essence is geared towards African-Americans, this was a not-so-thinly-veiled way of saying that Ms. Robertson was somehow not "White enough."

33. Ms. Robertson holds a degree in English, a Masters in Journalism and is an Adjunct Professor at New York University. She has also thrived and succeeded while working under five Pulitzer Prize winning Editors. No one has ever had any issue whatsoever with the way Ms. Robertson spoke or communicated.

34. Ms. Gleick's discriminatory attitudes were also reflected in the way she treated Ms. Robertson in comparison to similarly situated White employees.

35. Ms. Gleick often placed Ms. Robertson on the "back burner" while prioritizing the needs of her "buddies," all of whom just happened to be White.

36. For instance, Ms. Gleick intentionally cancelled or simply missed numerous meetings with Ms. Robertson that were vital to Ms. Robertson's ability to do her job.

37. These meetings were designed to permit Ms. Robertson to pitch story ideas to Ms. Gleick in advance of the Magazine's weekly "three week" meetings.

38. Ultimately, not having the opportunity to pitch her stories to Ms. Gleick in advance of these meetings led directly to the pitches being rejected at the meetings (wherein Ms. Gleick would state that she knew nothing about the proposed story).

39. Ms. Gleick also intentionally left Ms. Robertson off of highly important emails concerning stories that Ms. Robertson was working on, and failed to invite her to lunches during working hours despite inviting all of her White direct reports.

40. Perhaps most egregiously, Ms. Gleick undermined Ms. Robertson's role by allowing other Senior Editors to do stories within Ms. Robertson's area of the Magazine (which included crime).

41. This made it very difficult for Ms. Robertson to perform her job.

42. In contrast, when Ms. Robertson pitched an idea even remotely related to the subject area of a White Senior Editor, Ms. Gleick chided her and would not permit her to run with the story.

43. The discriminatory environment in which Ms. Robertson was forced to work also permeated the pages of People Magazine. Indeed, Ms. Gleick has repeatedly insisted that the only types of stories she and People Magazine were interested in printing were those concerning: "

"White middle-class suburbia."

44. Examples of this openly espoused discriminatory worldview at People Magazine are abundant.

45. For instance, in February 2014, Ms. Robertson pitched a story regarding the death of Samira Frasch, an African-American model whose husband was a person of interest in her apparent murder.

46. Despite the fact that this story was picked up by a number of media outlets, including CNN, Ms. Gleick responded to Ms. Robertson's pitch by stating that the victim looked like a "slut" and refused to print the story because the victim was Black, telling Ms. Robertson:

"You know the rule — White suburban women in distress."

47. Tellingly, People Magazine ran an extremely similar story approximately one month later about a White model, Monica Olsen, whose husband reportedly attempted to have her murdered.

48. The fact that Ms. Gleick would expressly decline to run a story because the victim was Black, yet run an extremely similar (though arguably even less compelling) story about a White victim, is illustrative of the racial biases condoned at People and which resulted in disparate treatment towards Ms. Robertson.

49. By way of another example, People Magazine was at one point looking into a potential story concerning a woman who had been killed by her husband.

50. Everyone at People Magazine was interested in the story, including Ms. Gleick, as well as another Top Editor and Executive at People Magazine.

51. However, upon viewing a picture of the victim and realizing she was Black, the editor immediately changed his mind.

52. The editor sent an email to Ms. Gleick (and copied Ms. Robertson) with a copy of the picture and the statement, in sum and substance, that:

"She'll never make it into People."

53. Similarly, Ms. Robertson was recently working on a story concerning gun violence in schools across the country.

54. The story had the full backing of Ms. Gleick, who was motivated to publish a story about the effect of gun violence on the country's children, given the tragic school shootings in recent years.

55. However, Ms. Gleick changed course and cancelled the story after she determined that the majority of the examples of gun violence that could be found involved minorities in urban settings rather than "White middle class suburbia."

56. Yet again, Ms. Gleick was uninterested in publishing a once newsworthy story for the sole basis that she determined that its focus would be on minorities.

57. However, it is not only the inside pages of People Magazine, but also the covers, that are reserved largely for White individuals.

58. In 2013, People put out 60 issues (including special and supplemental issues) of its magazine, and a Black individual was the main feature exactly twice.

59. That trend has continued in 2014, with only three African-American feature covers out of 27 covers so far this year.

60. Moreover, the past two years are not a mere anomaly as African-American representation on People Magazine's covers has been at abysmally small rates for many years.

61. In 2012, only four African-Americans were featured on the Magazine's cover (out of 60 issues).

62. In 2011, only two African-Americans were featured on the Magazine's cover (out of 58 issues).

63. In 2010, only three African-Americans were featured on the Magazine's cover (out of 59 issues).

64. In total, since 2010, only 14 out of 265 covers have been focused on African- American individuals.

65. In fact, shortly before Ms. Robertson was terminated, Queen Latifah was being discussed around the office as the potential feature on the May 12, 2014 cover.

66. Ms. Gleick, however, stated to Ms. Robertson that she did not think it was a good idea to have Queen Latifah as the feature on the cover because African-Americans Lupita Nyong'o and Robin Roberts were on the covers the prior two weeks.

67. Thus, while People Magazine is content with White persons on their cover for dozens of issues in a row, it balked at the idea of featuring three Black individuals in a row.

68. What is more, even in the rare instances where Black individuals are permitted on the cover of the Magazine, many have accused People of airbrushing images to "lighten" skin tone and make the people look "more white."

69. Moreover, Ms. Gleick treats the inclusion of Black individuals on the cover of People Magazine very differently than Whites, even where prominent news stories virtually require the coverage.

70. For instance, though People Magazine put Trayvon Martin on its cover, Ms. Gleick was completely obsessed with attempting to unearth any potential negative fact about him before doing so.

71. Ms. Gleick repeatedly questioned whether he was a "good kid," yet never made similar efforts to vet White victims of crime.

72. Ms. Gleick's concern that Mr. Martin might have a sordid past was seemingly based solely on the color of his skin.

73. Like their covers, People's "Sexiest" man and "Most Beautiful People" selections have been equally if not more biased towards White individuals and discriminatory towards African-Americans.

74. Since 1985 (the time period tracked on People's website), only one of the individuals selected as the "Sexiest Man Alive" has been Black out of 29 selections.

75. Since 1990, only three individuals selected as the "Most Beautiful Person" have been Black, out of 25 selections.

76. The clear implication is the offensive proposition that White individuals are somehow inherently "sexier" and more "beautiful" than African-Americans.

77. Despite the blatant discrimination to which Ms. Robertson was subjected, she was able to perform her job at an extremely high level.

78. During her time with People, as with Essence, Ms. Robertson's work won or contributed to People Magazine winning numerous awards, including two more Hemy Luce Awards (again, for Public Service and Magazine of the Year).

79. In 2013, Ms. Robertson had more cover stories and second cover stories than anyone else on her team.

80. Moreover, People Magazine's monthly engagement studies establish that Ms. Robertson's crime stories are some of the Magazine's most well read stories.

81. Simply put, Ms. Robertson's performance at People Magazine remained outstanding despite Ms. Gleick's efforts to undermine her work and the discriminatory decision making that pervaded the environment. Infact, Ms. Robertson was never written up or disciplined for any performance issues during her tenure with the Company.

Ms. Robertson's Discriminatory Termination

82. The discrimination Ms. Robertson was subjected to and witnessed are not isolated occurrences or the exception in its day-to-day operations, but rather are the regular and predictable result of its institutional patterns, practices and policies, as well as the complete lack of diversity in People's and Time, Inc.'s leadership.

83. These practices and lack of diversity have reinforced an atmosphere in which it seems appropriate and without any consequence to openly make racist and highly offensive remarks, treat Black employees like second class citizens and, ultimately, derail the careers of hard-working African-Americans like Ms. Robertson, who was terminated because of her race.

84. Indeed, of the approximately 110 full time People Magazine employees at the time of the recent layoffs, only approximately eight were Black. Following the reduction in force, only four Black employees remain.

85. When Ms. Robertson was employed, she was the only one of eight Senior Editors who was Black.

86. Ms. Robertson was also the only Black Editor in People's Human Interest team, and the only Black Editor on that team in People Magazine's history.

87. In fact, Ms. Robertson was the only Black Senior Editor on the magazine side in the history of People Magazine.

88. Moreover, People Magazine has literally no African-American representation in its leadership.

89. All seven of People Magazine's Top Editors -the level above Ms. Robertson — are White, and People has never had a single Black Top Editor.

90. Incredibly, this utter lack of leadership diversity is not limited to People Magazine, but, as shown on Time, Inc.' s own website, every single one of the 11 members of Time, Inc.'s "Leadership" is White

91. It is then not surprising that when People Magazine underwent a purported restructuring in May 2014, Ms. Robertson -the highest-ranking African-American at the Magazine -was terminated.

92. Prior to the purported restructuring that resulted in Ms. Robertson's termination, People Magazine employed approximately 26 Editors on the print side of the Magazine.

93. Ms. Robertson was the only Black Editor.

94. Yet, she was only one of two Editors terminated, the sole Senior Editor terminated and the only one of Ms. Gleick's direct reports terminated.

95. This is despite the fact that one of Ms. Gleick's direct reports, Kim Hubbard, had her position completely eliminated, yet was still somehow retained by People Magazine.

96. In contrast, Ms. Robertson's position was not eliminated, and White former colleagues who are clearly less qualified will be performing the work she once did.

97. Following the restructuring, the African-American voice at People Magazine will be even more non-existent than ever before.

98. One can only imagine that it will be "business as usual" at People Magazine going forward - more White people on covers, more stories about White people, and a completely dismissive attitude towards African-American employees.

AS AND FOR A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION

(Discrimination in Violation of Section 1981)

99. Plaintiff hereby repeats, reiterates, and realleges each and every allegation as contained in each of the preceding paragraphs as if fully set forth herein.

100. Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of her race in violation of Section 1981 by denying her the same terms and conditions of employment as described above, including, but not limited to, denying her equal treatment and by terminating her employment.

101. As a direct and proximate result of these Defendants' unlawful discriminatory conduct in violation of Section 1981, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer monetary and/or economic damages, including, but not limited to, loss of past and future income, compensation and benefits for which she is entitled to an award of monetary damages. 102. As a direct and proximate result of these Defendants' unlawful discriminatory conduct in violation of Section 1981, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer severe mental anguish and emotional distress, including, but not limited to, embarrassment, stress and anxiety and emotional pain and suffering for which she is entitled to an award of monetary damages.

103. Defendants' unlawful discriminatory conduct constitutes a willful and wanton violation of Section 1981, was outrageous and malicious, was intended to injure Plaintiff, and was done with conscious disregard of Plaintiff s civil rights, entitling Plaintiff to an award of punitive damages.

AS AND FOR A SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

(Race Discrimination in Violation of the NYCHRL)

104. Plaintiff hereby repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation as contained in each of the preceding paragraphs as if fully set forth herein.

105. Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of her race in violation of the NYCHRL by denying her the same terms and conditions of employment as described above, including, but not limited to, denying her equal treatment and by terminating her employment.

106. As a direct and proximate result of these Defendants' unlawful discriminatory conduct in violation of the NYCHRL, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer monetary and/or economic damages, including, but not limited to, loss of past and future income, compensation and benefits ,for which she is entitled to an award of monetary damages.

107. As a direct and proximate result of these Defendants' unlawful discriminatory conduct in violation of the NYCHRL, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer severe mental anguish and emotional distress, including, but not limited to, embarrassment, stress and anxiety and emotional pain and suffering for which she is entitled to an award of monetary damages.

108. Defendants' unlawful discriminatory conduct constitutes a willful and wanton violation of the NYCHRL, was outrageous and malicious, was intended to injure Plaintiff, and was done with conscious disregard of Plaintiff's civil rights, entitling Plaintiff to an award of punitive damages.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays that the Court enter judgment in her favor and against Defendants, containing the following relief:

A. A declaratory judgment that the actions, conduct and practices of Defendants complained of herein violate the laws of the United States and the State of New York;

B. An injunction and order permanently restraining Defendants from engaging in such unlawful conduct;

C. An order directing Defendants to take such affirmative action as is necessary to ensure that the effects of these unlawful employment practices are eliminated and do not continue to affect Plaintiff s employment and personal life;

D. An award of damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest, to compensate Plaintiff for all monetary and/or economic damages, including, but not limited to, the loss of past and future income, wages, compensation, seniority and other benefits of employment;

E. An award of damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest, to compensate Plaintiff for all non-monetary and/or compensatory damages;

F. An award of punitive damages;

G. An award of costs that Plaintiff has incurred in this action, as well as Plaintiff s reasonable attorneys' fees to the fullest extent permitted by law; and

H. Such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

JURY DEMAND

Plaintiff hereby demands a trial by jury on all issues of fact and damages stated herein.

Dated: August 20, 2014

New York, New York

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