Ex-Producer Complains of Bias at CBS News; Network Calls Allegation ‘Patently False’

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Over at the Eye, they may have more than Katie Couric‘s pending arrival to deal with. Late last month, a CBS News producer whose contract had been terminated says her firing was the result of discrimination, according to a complaint she says she filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In her complaint, Raylena Fields, a 13-year-veteran of the network, asserts that CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer has “a reputation for bigotry.”

“My termination … came almost one month to the day, after I filed a complaint that CBS Evening News anchorman Bob Schieffer asked me to answer his phones, something a veteran similarly situated Staff Producer, would have never been asked to do. When I responded that I would find someone to help him, Mr. Schieffer raised his voice at me in front of his guests and said, ‘Well, if you can’t be bothered!’ … Mr. Schieffer frequently and publicly refers to a newsroom assistant as ‘Brownie’ due to the complexion of his skin. … I personally witnessed Bob Schieffer address a veteran African American correspondent as ‘Hey, Boy.'”

“I wrote an official complaint about Bob Schieffer’s actions toward me to Linda Mason, Vice President, CBS News, and Rome Hartman, Executive Producer, CBS Evening News. Neither responded. Less than a month after the Schieffer incident, Mason and Hartman called me into a meeting and terminated me.”

A spokesperson for CBS News says the network has yet to see the complaint filed with EEOC. In a statement to FishbowlNY, CBS News says that “lawful performance and organizational issues” resulted in Ms. Fields’ termination, and her race “was absolutely not a factor.”

Ms. Fields obviously appears to be interested in litigating this case in the press. CBS does not share that interest and will reserve its response for the EEOC forum.

According to excerpts of the complaint posted on Journal-isms, Fields says “there is not one single African American person holding a rank above producer on any of CBS’ eight separate broadcasts.”

Messages left with Fields’ lawyer, Gregory Preston, requesting a copy of the complaint have yet to be returned. We will update the FishbowlNY when if and when they become available.

CBS News’ statement in its entirety:


April 11, 2006

STATEMENT FROM CBS NEWS

Although CBS has yet to be even served with any charges, we understand from press accounts that Raylena Fields has filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that she was terminated on account of her race. This allegation is patently false. There were lawful performance and organizational issues that resulted in Ms. Fields’ termination, and her race was absolutely not a factor. CBS maintains a strict no-tolerance policy against racial discrimination in our workplace, and we are proud of our record in this area.

Once CBS is served with the charge, the company will present its response to the EEOC and will vigorously defend itself in that forum. Ms. Fields obviously appears to be interested in litigating this case in the press. CBS does not share that interest and will reserve its response for the EEOC forum provided for under the law.

RELATED: Bias Complaint at CBS News [Journal-isms]
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