Jeff Vaughn Sues Over Racial Quotas

By Chanak Maduranga

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Jeff Vaughn Sues Over Racial Quotas
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CBS Broadcasting and its parent Paramount Global are facing a discrimination lawsuit from former anchor Jeff Vaughn, who accuses his ex-employers of implementing policies that favor the hiring of individuals from certain groups and firing older, white, heterosexual men.

Vaughn, in a lawsuit filed on Monday in California federal court, says he was replaced in 2022 by a younger, minority news anchor. He points to a CBS goal to ensure that half of all writers be nonwhite by 2023 and an initiative requiring half of all castmembers on their reality shows be minorities.

The complaint seeks a court order blocking CBS’s allegedly discriminatory hiring policies and for the company to offer Vaughn, who seeks at least $5 million, his job back.

“CBS decided that there were too many white males at CBS, and it acted accordingly,” the complaint states. “It needed to solve its ‘white problem’ by firing successful white males.”

The filing of the lawsuit follows a similar complaint from Brian Beneker, a script coordinator for SEAL Team who alleges that he was repeatedly denied a staff writer job after the implementation of an “illegal policy of race and sex balancing” that promoted the hiring of “less qualified applicants who were members of more preferred groups,” namely those who identify as minorities, LGBTQ or women.

Like Beneker, Vaughn is represented by America First Legal Foundation, a conservative group founded by Stephen Miller, a White House policy adviser under the Trump administration. The organization has been filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against major companies, including Morgan Stanley, Starbucks and McDonald’s, over corporate diversity and hiring practices that allegedly run afoul of civil rights laws.

CBS and Paramount didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to the complaint, Vaughn, who worked at CBS for seven years, learned in 2022 that his contract wouldn’t be renewed for the following year. He says he wasn’t provided a direct reason for the decision but was told “it’s not about the ratings.”

The reason, Vaughn alleges, is that CBS implemented a policy to increase diversity among its ranks. He says the effort “went into high gear” when Wendy McMahon, who’s named in the complaint, was promoted in 2021 to president of CBS News and Stations. Under her leadership, the lawsuit says the company “prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, hired and promoted several women and/or people of color to serve in key roles.”

Vaughn, then 57, says he was replaced because he didn’t “meet those criteria.” He takes issue with the network not moving forward with his story ideas for a 20th anniversary 9/11 special.

“His African American colleague hosted the show, and reporters from minority groups hosted all the featured stories,” states the complaint, which notes that Vaughn was excluded from other events he typically covered in favor of colleagues who are women or racial minorities. “Not one of them had personally been present at ground zero reporting during the events of 9/11.”

When CBS held auditions for Vaughn’s replacement, the lawsuit claims that all the candidates were all “younger, racial minorities.” In 2023, Vaughn was terminated, with a Black male assuming his position, according to the lawsuit.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision knocking down affirmative action, the lawsuit further calls into question the legality of diversity, equity and inclusion programs that explicitly account for race, which have been on legally tenuous ground. Last year, 13 Republican attorneys general wrote letters to Fortune 100 companies warning them that several of their efforts to boost diversity are discriminatory. In response, a group of Democrat attorneys general urged them to “double-down on diversity-focused programs.”

In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the group that sued claimed a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which protects against discrimination by the government. Although the ruling is not directly applicable to companies, which are governed by a separate set of federal and state antidiscrimination laws that do not allow employers to consider race in hiring decisions, America First Legal Foundation, the firm representing Vaughn and Beneker, has leveraged the decision in lawsuits that could signal opening legal salvos against efforts to boost diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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