Two white cameramen are suing NBC and Questlove for racial discrimination, claiming that the prominent drummer for the Roots convinced NBC to fire them because they were white.
Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino, two camera operators who used to work on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court in New York City on Wednesday claiming that they were racially discriminated against by Questlove and NBC.
The pair are seeking $1 million in damages, according to the Washington Post.
Their firing was racially motivated, they say, and stems from an “unsolicited racist and misogynist text message” the two cameramen received from a stagehand working on the Tonight Show.
The complaint doesn’t identify the stagehand; nor does it include the contents of the text message—just that Decker and Cimino were “shocked” and “repulsed” by the message.
Uh ... huh.
The Post details Decker and Cimino’s versions of events:
They said that they didn’t send the message to anyone. Instead, they complained to other NBC staffers about the message, including the Roots’ manager Keith McPhee.
The next day they were called into separate meetings in the human resources department. There, according to the complaint, they “both reiterated the same truthful story: that they did not know why they had received the Text Message, they both found it offensive, and neither had forwarded it to anyone else.”
Interesting decision not to include the texts that this entire incident hinges on—especially if you were an innocent party that did all the right things, as these men claim they were.
Still, the men were fired after a two-month investigation—a decision that NBC has taken sole ownership of, but which the former cameramen are blaming on Questlove.
In their complaint they claim that Questlove insisted that “all Caucasian employees who received the unsolicited message” should be fired. And NBC, terribly beholden to Questlove for some reason that isn’t really articulated, listened and followed his orders.
As evidence, they pointed their fingers at Roots bassist Mark Kelley, who also received the text message but wasn’t fired or disciplined. Decker and Cimino suggest that Kelley managed to stay on because he, unlike them, is black.
To quote April Ryan, “Hmmm!”
According to Deadline, which cites “sources close to the situation,” the pair were actually fired because they didn’t immediately report the offensive texts. NBC policy, they say, requires that this kind of material be “formally reported ASAP.”
Meanwhile, Questlove called the allegations “ridiculous.” In a statement submitted to Pitchfork by his reps, the world-renowned musician said:
Racism is REAL and exists throughout the world and for these gentlemen to claim victim is not only disrespectful to Questlove and his bandmates, but to all that truly endure racism on a daily basis.