Two cameramen who are suing NBC over claims the network racially discriminated against them feel the Peacock Network has a habit of covering up the misconduct of its more powerful employees.
The two white cameramen, who previously worked on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” claim NBC racially discriminated against them when they were fired over an inappropriate text message. Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino filed a suit against the network earlier this year claiming Questlove, the leader of Fallon’s “Tonight Show” band The Roots, had them fired because they were white.
New legal documents obtained by Fox News reveal that Decker and Cimino pointed additionally to the situation surrounding NBC News legend Tom Brokaw as evidence that the network has a history of protecting itself and overlooking misconduct when committed by stars.
NBC's news division recently came under fire when Brokaw, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by three different women, was defended in a letter signed by over 100 current and former female NBC staffers. NBC reportedly does not plan to investigate the accusations, and the campaign to sign the letter in support of Brokaw included some of NBC’s most powerful women. The New York Post reported last week that many women at NBC News had felt intimidated into signing the letter – and it seems the exiled cameramen agree.
The document points to recent claims that many of the women were pressured to sign the petition supporting Brokaw.
Decker and Cimino also point to the situation involving Matt Lauer because “many employees” knew he was a serial sexual harasser and never reported it.
While most major corporations hire white-shoe law firms to review harassment allegations, NBC is relying on in-house general counsel Kim Harris to oversee an investigation into who knew about Lauer’s sexual misconduct and whether NBC executives looked the other way. The network has been criticized as observers feel the investigation will lack the apolitical nature of those done by outside law firms. The internal review began more than five months ago, but the company has not announced any findings.
The former cameramen reportedly feel Lauer’s alleged defenders and Brokaw are getting a pass while they were shown the door for much milder allegations. The Blast, which first reported the news, claimed Decker and Cimino were working as camera operators on June 19, 2017 when they received an “unsolicited racist and misogynist text message from a ‘Tonight Show’ stagehand.”
In court documents, they reportedly said a third person, The Roots bassist Mark Kelley, who is African-American, also received the message. Decker and Cimino claimed they did not respond to the message and later reported it to both The Roots' manager and a technical production manager at NBC. However, Decker and Cimino said they immediately got suspended.
The suit claims that Questlove, the most famous member of The Roots, protected a black NBC employee but told NBC management to fire Decker and Cimino.
“NBC acquiesced to Questlove’s overtly discriminatory demand,” the suit says.
Representatives for Questlove did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.
The cameramen allege the decision to fire them was discriminatory based on race and that they had a combined 40 years of “spotless performance.” Decker and Cimino also claim Questlove has demonstrated racist and misogynist behavior himself that is ignored by NBC management.
NBC did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“NBC is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity,” an NBC spokesperson told Fox News in a statement back in January when the lawsuit was first reported. “We have strong policies in place that protect against discrimination in any form. The decision about these plaintiffs was the company’s alone.”
The plaintiffs are seeking at least $1 million each.