Legal Battle Unveils Alleged Bias at CBS: 'SEAL Team' Writer Challenges Diversity Policies in Lawsuit

Legal Battle Unveils Alleged Bias at CBS: 'SEAL Team' Writer Challenges Diversity Policies in Lawsuit

  • Saturday, 02 March 2024 06:20

Legal Battle Unveils Alleged Discrimination: White Writer Challenges CBS Diversity Policies in Lawsuit

CBS and its parent company Paramount Global are facing accusations of "blatant" discrimination in a federal lawsuit filed by a white, heterosexual male freelance writer. Brian Beneker, who served as a script coordinator and freelance writer for CBS' "SEAL Team," alleges that he was unfairly denied a staff writer position due to his race, sex, and sexual orientation.

According to the complaint filed in the US District Court of Central California, Beneker, who began as the script coordinator for the pilot episode of "SEAL Team" in 2017, was offered the opportunity to write an episode script for the show's second season as a freelancer. However, he was informed that he would have to resign from his position as a coordinator to continue as a scriptwriter.

The lawsuit contends that Beneker was replaced by a woman lacking experience as a script coordinator, who ultimately struggled with the job and resigned after approximately two weeks of training.

Beneker's legal team, representing him from the America First Legal Foundation and JW Howard Attorneys, referenced a reported directive from CBS CEO George Cheeks to staff writers' rooms with 40% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in the 2021-2022 season, with the requirement increasing to 50% in the following season. Similar diversity hiring policies were purportedly applied across Paramount Global's platforms.

The lawsuit emerges amid ongoing debates surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies in the entertainment industry. Beneker's complaint alleges that he was passed over in favor of less qualified candidates who fulfilled diversity quotas.

America First Legal Foundation, founded by former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller, announced the lawsuit on Thursday, condemning CBS for alleged anti-white discrimination and pledging to hold the entertainment giant accountable for its actions.

The legal battle underscores the complexities and controversies surrounding diversity initiatives in the entertainment sector, raising questions about fairness, meritocracy, and the pursuit of inclusive workplaces.

Discrimination Allegations Rock CBS: Writer Accuses Network of Bias in Hiring Practices

Brian Beneker, a script coordinator and freelance writer for CBS' "SEAL Team," has filed a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination against him based on his race, sex, and sexual orientation. Beneker claims that despite his qualifications, he was repeatedly passed over for staff writer positions in favor of less experienced candidates who met diversity quotas.

According to court documents, Beneker returned to his coordinator position for Season 2 of "SEAL Team" after his freelance writing stint. During this time, he alleges being contacted by CBS executives to confirm the ethnicity of a potential writer for the show, indicating a focus on diversity in hiring decisions.

When Beneker expressed interest in a staff writer position to showrunner John Glenn, he was reportedly told that the team already had enough writers. However, court papers claim that Glenn later hired a black male writer with minimal experience, allegedly citing his race as a factor in the decision.

After Glenn was replaced by Spencer Hudnut, Beneker inquired about the hiring of the aforementioned writer and was allegedly informed by Hudnut that the decision was based on the writer's race.

Despite Beneker's contributions as a freelancer, including writing the Season 3 finale, he claims he was repeatedly denied a staff writer position for Season 4 and beyond. Instead, less experienced candidates, including a female writer's assistant with no prior writing credits, were offered full-time positions.

The lawsuit asserts that CBS has implemented an illegal policy of race and sex "balancing" in its writer's room, requiring white heterosexual men to possess additional qualifications compared to non-white, LGBTQ, or female peers.

Beneker is seeking over $500,000 in lost wages and benefits, as well as damages, and a permanent injunction against CBS' discriminatory hiring practices. He also seeks a judgment declaring the company's policies in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

CBS and Paramount have yet to respond to requests for comment on the allegations.

In conclusion, Brian Beneker's lawsuit against CBS sheds light on the complex and contentious issue of diversity in the entertainment industry. The allegations of discrimination in hiring practices highlight the challenges faced by individuals who believe they have been unfairly treated based on their race, sex, or sexual orientation.

Beneker's case underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in the recruitment and hiring processes within media organizations. It raises broader questions about the implementation of diversity initiatives and the potential unintended consequences of such policies.

As the legal battle unfolds, it serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and fairness in workplaces across various sectors. Regardless of the outcome, Beneker's lawsuit prompts a necessary conversation about inclusivity and meritocracy in the entertainment industry and beyond.