Many might remember talk show host Bill Maher referring to himself as a “house n*gger” back in June 2017, which caused a major media backlash.
Over a year later, the dust has somewhat settled, however the ripple effects of the incident are still being felt thanks to one lawsuit.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Shonitria Anthony was an editor at the Los Angeles-based news site ATTN: around the same time Maher made his controversial statements. The site is all about raising social consciousness for millennials. However, Anthony wasn’t feeling too comfortable at the publication after Bill’s words, considering he is one of ATTN:’s investors.
She organized her Black co-workers and asked for a company meeting regarding Maher’s use of the N-word. She also pointed out that there weren’t any people of color in upper management and suggested there be more represented, especially in the human resources department. Soon after Anthony brought these things up, she says she was subjected to adverse employment actions that eventually led to her termination in August.
In March 2018, Anthony filed a lawsuit against ATTN: and its top executives, claiming they fired her out of retaliation for her outspokenness on race. ATTN: says Anthony’s firing had nothing to do with this, but she was let go as part of a business strategy to shift to video.
After a Los Angeles Superior Court heard Anthony’s case, they ruled that she has probability of prevailing on her retaliation and discrimination claims. The judge argued that she submitted enough evidence on how she experienced setbacks at the office almost immediately after she protested conditions. This led the judge to believe that Anthony’s firing was done with “a discriminatory intent.”
Now ATTN: is heading to a California appeals court where they’ll have to establish the legitimacy of their actions. Meanwhile, Anthony continues to seek damages for mental and emotional distress, lost wages, and punitive damages.