Sports Anchor Mark Edwards Alleges Racial Bias in Suit Against KTHV

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Apr. 28, 2014 12:00 am  

Mark Edwards

Sports broadcaster Mark Edwards has sued his former employer, KTHV-TV, Channel 11, alleging it didn’t promote him to sports director because he’s black.

Edwards presented his case in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock on Feb. 24, when he was still working at the Little Rock station. It is unclear exactly when he left the station or under what circumstances.

He couldn’t be reached for comment and one of his attorneys, Richard Quintus of Little Rock, didn’t return a call for comment.

Michael Caplan, the president and general manager at KTHV, referred questions to its owner, Gannett Co. of McLean, Va., but Gannett spokesman Jeremy Gaines didn’t comment specifically on the lawsuit.

“We are very proud of our history of diversity and fair treatment for all employees,” Gaines said in an email statement to Arkansas Business.

Edwards alleged he was doing the work of a sports director but was denied the title as well as the pay.

Winning a racial discrimination case in federal court can be difficult, said Theresa Beiner, a professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law.

Beiner, who wasn’t familiar with the facts in Edwards’ case, said employees have to show that they were qualified for the promotion and didn’t receive it “under circumstances that suggest discrimination.”

The employer then would have to give a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for making the promotion, she said. After that, it’s up to the plaintiff to show that the employer’s reason is false and “it’s more likely than not that discrimination” caused the difference in treatment.

Very few employers are “unsophisticated enough to say something that links the discrimination to the particular employment decision,” she said.

Often, the complaints don’t survive a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, meaning the cases are tossed out before the plaintiff even sees a jury.

“What has been studied in employment discrimination cases is that there is an anti-plaintiff bias in the federal court system,” she said. “And the courts are sort of reluctant to step in when it’s a subjective decision that is being made.”



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