US network NBC has reportedly asked for a racial discrimination lawsuit involving The Roots drummer Questlove to be dismissed and for the dispute to be sent to arbitration.
In January, Questlove was accused of pressuring TV bosses to fire two Tonight Show employees. Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino, two former Tonight Show camera operators, alleged that Questlove – whose group is the house band for the Jimmy Fallon-hosted show – “demanded” the network fire them after they received a racist text message from an NBC stagehand during a taping of the show.
Decker and Cimino, who are white, claimed that the text message, which was also allegedly sent to The Roots’ Mark Kelley, was unsolicited and that they reported the text to NBC executives. The pair were first suspended and subsequently fired.
Both Questlove and NBC were sued by Deck and Cimino for racial discrimination and defamation. A representative for Questlove denied the claims at the time, describing the allegations as “ridiculous”.
Billboard now reports that lawyers for NBC Universal and Questlove filed paperwork last week, arguing that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between NBC and the NABET-CWA union prevents workers from taking claims of race discrimination to court. They argue that the fact that the union has declined to file a grievance means the dispute should be sent to arbitration via NBC’s “alternative dispute resolution procedure”, called Solutions, instead.
Decker and Cimino have alleged that Questlove is a “third party” in the dispute, which validates their grounds for a lawsuit. NBC and Questlove’s lawyers have denied this.
An NBC spokesperson had previously said in a statement: “NBC is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. We have strong policies in place that protect against discrimination in any form. The decision about these plaintiffs was the company’s alone.”