A former employee of Al Jazeera America filed a lawsuit against the network on Tuesday, alleging he was wrongfully terminated after he had complained about anti-Semitic and sexist behavior portrayed by a senior executive of the media organization.
Matthew Luke, who started working for Al Jazeera America in 2013 in the New York City as the network’s supervisor of media and archive management, said in the complaint that senior executive Osman Mahmud, who supervised him, used to take discriminatory actions against the company’s female employees. Mahmud was also said to have exhibited anti-Semitic behavior when he desired to replace an Israeli cameraman with a Palestinian, the Washington Post reported.
“As an employee at AJAM, Mr. Mahmud’s discriminatory conduct included, but was not limited to, removing female employees from projects to which they had been previously assigned by other management level employees, excluding women from emails and meetings relevant to their assignments, and making discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks such as ‘whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell,’” the Post reported, citing the lawsuit.
Luke also said that after he complained about Mahmud’s behavior to the company’s human resources department in February, he was fired 10 days later, Variety reported.
“At the termination meeting, the EVP of Human Resources told Mr. Luke that he ‘did not fit into the company culture,’” according to the lawsuit, which seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and another $10 million in punitive damages, the Post reported.
After Luke complained about Mahmud’s behavior, “the response was to circle the wagons and fire the messenger. This is a clear violation of the law,” Jeffrey A. Kimmel, Luke’s lawyer, said in a statement, obtained by the New York Times. “One would expect more from an organization whose mission statement is ‘to be recognized as the world’s leading and most trusted media network.’”