Matthew Luke (right), a former Al Jazeera America employee who was fired in February, has filed suit against the network complaining of a hostile work environment and claiming a manager made “discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks.”
The suit claims that AJAM svp Osman Mahmud was promoted to his position overseeing Broadcast Operations & Technology because he was “well connected with the financiers and/or senior executives at the parent company of AJAM.”
Luke claims Mahmud made remarks including, “whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell.” The suit also alleges that Mahmud exhibited “overt misogynistic behavior,” including removing female employees from projects and excluding women from certain emails and meetings.
According to the suit, Luke complained to human resources about Mahmud and was terminated 10 days later. He was told he did not “fit in” at AJAM.
“When Mr. Luke, an exemplary and loyal employee at Al Jazeera, reported the biased and discriminatory conduct of a high-level newsroom executive, the response was to circle the wagons and fire the messenger,” Luke’s attorney Jeffrey Kimmel told TVNewser. “This is a clear violation of the law. One would expect more from an organization whose mission statement is to be recognized as the world’s leading and most trusted media network.”
Al Jazeera America had no comment on the suit: “No comment on personnel matters and no comment on pending litigation.”
Luke was hired at AJAM in May, 2013 as supervisor of Media and Archive Management, prior to the launch of the network. According to the suit, Mahmud joined the network 5 months later as a news editor, and quickly moved up the ranks.
Mahmud had filed a complaint against Luke not long before Luke was fired. The suit claims the disagreement “was business-related and minor and Mr. Luke believed that he and Mr. Mahmud had both long moved past said disagreement.”
Luke is seeking $5,000,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000,000 in punitive damages.