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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has granted summary judgment in favor of CBS Inc. in a suit by a news camera operator alleging that he was discriminated against based on his homosexuality. ( Patterson v. CBS Inc., 94-2562, May 22, 2000.) Kevin Patterson worked as a camera operator at CBS from 1978 until he walked off the set during a live broadcast of the “CBS Evening News” and was fired in 1993. Patterson subsequently sued CBS for discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and harassment. The suit claimed, among other things, that news director Richard Mutcheler harassed Patterson on a daily basis for several years and that Patterson was actually fired because he had AIDS. The district court first ruled that, under either Title VII or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Patterson couldn’t pursue any discriminatory actions that CBS allegedly committed before Oct. 28, 1992, which was 300 days prior to the date that Patterson filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Similarly, any discriminatory claims were barred under the New York City Human Rights Law for any acts that occurred before the statute took effect on Sept. 16, 1991. The district court also made the following findings: � Accepting all the allegations about Mutcheler as true didn’t support Patterson’s wrongful termination claim under the ADA because the complained-of comments “amount to no more than several stray remarks and opinions.” � CBS had a non-discriminatory reason for firing Patterson after he had walked away from his camera during the “CBS Evening News” broadcast. According to the court, “Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, it is clear that the act of leaving the camera during a live broadcast is a valid reason for firing a camera operator. It is not necessary that the Defendant’s reason for termination be correct or even fair; it simply must not be based on discrimination.” � Patterson failed to offer sufficient evidence of denial of promotion in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law. For example, there was no evidence or claim that Patterson applied for the position of technical director, that CBS was seeking applicants for the position or that CBS continued to seek comparably skilled individuals for the same position after denying the promotion. � Patterson claimed in his Title VII harassment and hostile work environment cause of action that Mutcheler had repeatedly made sexual jokes and comments, and touched him in a sexual and humiliating manner on a daily basis. But throughout Patterson’s employment, CBS had a sexual harassment policy that instructed employees with complaints to contact the vice president of personnel. Patterson never complained to management or the vice president of personnel about the alleged harassment by Mutcheler. Though Patterson contended he was afraid to complain about the alleged harassment because Mutcheler had a high-ranking position, a general fear of retaliation, without specific statement or representation from Mutcheler, didn’t constitute a reasonable ground for Patterson’s failure to complain. Patterson represented himself. Bettina B. Plevan of the New York office of Proskauer Rose LLP represented CBS.

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