Ex-CNN Employee Claims He Was Fired For Being Gay, Wearing “Flamboyant” Outfits

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 11.12.19 AMA 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.

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  • Qjersey

    It’s always one *sshole supervisor that the company fails to keep in line. He’s gonna win.

  • Ben Dover

    The article says he’s married to a Mexican, but judging from the picture, he may have been fired for making fun of Mexicans. (And/or making fun of gay people too?) Not everyone in the workplace has a sense of humor about such things.

    Is this why CNN is so screwed up – they’re the Dunder-Mifflin of cable TV, they party all the time and don’t get any work done?

  • Matthew Tharrett

    @Ben Dover: I’m not sure he was “making fun of Mexicans,” gay people, or anyone for that matter.

    Every source seems to indicate that the mariachi outfits in question were worn as a cultural homage, and no source suggests that they were racially motivated in any way. Keep in mind that he wore these to work on occasion for more than ten years, and they were embraced by virtually everyone on staff.

    It sounds to me like Kane is someone who’s always been interested in Mexican culture (and there’s no reason to believe he isn’t Mexican himself — I wasn’t able to determine his ethnicity based on reports.) I’d have to imagine that if he wound up being fired for wearing “racist” outfits, it wouldn’t have taken 11 years to do.

    Plus, his neon-colored track suits seem to be the outfit named most frequently in the suit. I think the bright “flamboyant” colors are the main issue here, not the origin of the outfit.

    It’s also worth noting that CNN’s only comment on the suit is that they haven’t even seen it yet, which I stated at the end of the article. This could just be the case of a bitter ex-employee grasping at straws, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions this early.

  • sportyguy1983

    I smell horse sh1t on this lawsuit.

  • Alan down in Florida

    I would fire supervisor John Silva immediately. He worked with Mr. Kane and his extravagant wardrobe for an unmentioned period of time and only just recently learned that Mr. Kane was gay. Clearly not the sharpest tool in the microphone department of CNN’s tool case.

  • cflekken

    @sportyguy1983: do a better job of wiping?

  • cflekken

    As much as I feel today’s society is sue-happy one, this one, at least as it’s written here, sounds legit. HOWEVER, in another article it states that when Kane reported his issues to HR, they cited him for “nitpicky violations”. So, maybe there are legitimate reasons for his firing that haven’t been disclosed yet.

  • Ben Dover

    @cflekken: Perhaps his new employers at CHIPOTLE have an even more relaxed dress code? :)

  • unclemike

    Just because I’m married to a Chinese man doesn’t mean I’d show up to work in a rice paddy hat and long ponytail.

  • BJ McFrisky

    It’s called a dress code. If you cannot abide, they’ll fire your hide.

    Also: Why isn’t the Left furious at this guy for his blatant appropriation of Mexican culture?

Comments are closed.