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Gannett Sued For Discriminating Against White Employees

Five plaintiffs seeking class-action status have filed a lawsuit against Gannett. The company owns USA Today and several hundred daily and weekly newspapers across the country. They claim Gannett discriminates against “non-minorities” to meet its diversity goals. To meet those goals, Gannett allegedly fired white employees, denied them job opportunities, and replaced these employees with less-qualified nonwhite candidates. The Washington Post says this case is one of the first seeking to test corporate legal diversity efforts following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision shutting down the consideration of race in university admissions.

Historically, U.S. companies have favored men of European descent when making employment decisions. Corporate America remains predominantly white and male at its higher levels. Women and people of color make up less than 14 percent of corporate executive roles, with women continuing to earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by a white man.

The lawsuit claims Gannett set a diversity target to increase the number of individuals of color in leadership by 30 percent. Gannett's 2022 numbers show its staff is almost 70% white and 57% male. Black employees equal about 11.5 percent of its staff members, with other minority groups coming in lower. The company's progress in increasing diversity led to discrimination, per the lawsuit. The plaintiffs allege the company fired well-qualified employees only because they were non-minority. One of the suit's plaintiffs says the company told him to consider only minority candidates for open positions, and he had to rescind an offer to a qualified white male candidate. Another plaintiff said Gannett directed him to fill a job with a minority. This new hire ended up receiving a higher wage than the plaintiff. When this plaintiff questioned the salary differential, he was told it was to "satisfy their racial quota."

In response to the lawsuit, Gannet states it will "vigorously defend [its] practice of ensuring equal opportunities" for all its employees.