The largest newspaper publisher in the U.S., Gannett, was hit with a class action lawsuit Friday that alleges its diversity efforts discriminated against non-minority employees.
Current, former and prospective Gannett employees filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging the company’s “Reverse Race Discrimination Policy” discriminated against “non-minorities” on the basis of race. The policy, announced in 2020, sought to ensure its newsrooms’ demographics reflected the communities they covered by 2025.
“Gannett executed their Reverse Race Discrimination Policy with a callous indifference towards civil rights laws or the welfare of the workers, and prospective workers, whose lives would be upended by it,” the complaint states.
Leadership was incentivized to comply with the new policy through bonuses, awards and promotions, according to the complaint.
Gannett publishes hundreds of local media outlets across the U.S., along with publishing USA Today.
In 2020, Gannett also promised to “expand the number of journalists focused on covering issues related to race and identity, social justice and equality,” USA Today reported.
Steven Bradley, former sports editor for the Rochester, New York-based Democrat and Chronicle and one of the plaintiffs on the lawsuit, previously sued the company in April in state court for allegedly firing him because he is white.
“Gannett always seeks to recruit and retain the most qualified individuals for all roles within the company,” Gannett Chief Legal Counsel Polly Grunfeld Sack said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We will vigorously defend our practice of ensuring equal opportunities for all our valued employees against this meritless lawsuit.”
Gannett is not the first to be sued over its diversity practices. The conservative legal group American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER) sued two major law firms over diversity fellowships it alleges violate the law on Tuesday.
A nonprofit founded by Edward Blum, who organized the lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s racial preferences in admissions that led to the Supreme Court striking down affirmative action, also sued an Atlanta-based investment manager over a grant program for black women on August 2.
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