A former CNN employee has brought a $60 million lawsuit against the news corporation, claiming that he was wrongfully fired from his job because he is gay, and that his “flamboyant” outfits only became an issue with management after he announced his engagement to his husband.
The suit alleges that William Kane, a 33-year-old microphone technician who began working at CNN in 2002, had a history of wearing cultural and flamboyant outfits to work. According to Kane, nobody at the network ever complained about the hot pink designer shirt he wore in his employee ID photo or the bright, neon-colored track suits he would routinely wear with matching shoes and hats.
The suit also claims that the cultural mariachi outfits he wore to CNN were widely celebrated among staff — journalists Christiane Amanpour and Fareed Zakaria are quoted in court documents as hailing Kane’s wardrobe as “incredible,” interesting, and beautifully worn by the “best-dressed man” on set.
As the husband of a Mexican man, Kane tells the NY Daily News that he has several mariachi outfits and wore them to work when themes in the news cycle deemed it appropriate.
But the attitude toward Kane’s wardrobe choices became hostile, he says, when his supervisor John Silva learned that he was gay. According to court papers, Silva told Kane to retire the mariachi suits “because it was too flamboyant for a male in our department.” He also suggested that Kane was better suited for the “entrainment or makeup department.”
The claims are backed up by Anderson Cooper himself, who is named in the suit as being an eyewitness to a discussion between Kane and Silva, during which Silva said things that both Kane and Cooper interpreted to be anti-gay.
Piers Morgan is another famous name involved in the suit — Kane’s claim includes details of a time his supervisor offered him a $100 “bribe” to buy an outfit to replace his colorful track suit because it was bothering Morgan, who later denied making the initial complaint.
A representative for CNN tells the Daily News that “we haven’t seen the lawsuit” yet, though Kane claims he has a “right to sue” letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.