Channel 41 (KSHB) sports reporter Demetrice "Dee" Jackson is suing the television station for race discrimination, saying he was twice passed over for sports director after management led him to believe he would get that job.
The lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday contends KSHB news director Carrie Hofmann recruited Jackson to come to Kansas City in 2013, when he was sports director of a television station in Montgomery, Alabama.
At the time, the lawsuit says, the Kansas City station's sports director, Jack Harry, was considering retirement and "Hofmann wanted to ensure everything was in place for when he did."
Jackson declined an offer of employment, saying he was happy with his current job of 12 years but asked to be considered when the sports director position at KSHB became available.
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The suit says Jackson soon received a second employment offer from KSHB, leading him to believe he would become sports director. Hofmann told him that reporter Frank Boal, the next in line, was not interested in the job.
Jackson took that offer and joined the KSHB team in September 2013.
But in 2015, Boal was named sports director.
"Hofmann explained she chose Boal to avoid 'PR concerns about passing over the old white guy,' " according to the lawsuit.
The suit contends Boal did not meet the job criteria of being able to edit and produce broadcast-ready material on his own, skills that Jackson did possess.
Jackson remained at the station with the "good faith understanding" that he would be made sports director when the position became available.
The suit says that when Boal told Hofmann in April 2017 he was retiring, Jackson was told he would have to apply for the position of sports director as if he were an external candidate and be interviewed by a panel of KSHB employees.
"To Plaintiff's shock, humiliation and distress, KSHB awarded Sports Director to Caucasian male, Joseph 'Mick' Shaffer, from outside KSHB," the lawsuit says.
Reached for comment, Hofmann provided this statement: "We cannot comment on pending litigation. We stand by our commitment to diversity and inclusion in our workplace."
Jackson, 42, is not the only KSHB reporter to accuse the station of race discrimination.
Lisa Benson Cooper filed a lawsuit in December 2016 alleging that her race was "constantly used" in deciding where or what topics she would be reporting. Her suit also alleged: “The positions are consistently rewarded to white employees with far less experience than plaintiff." The station denies the allegations. The case is pending in federal court.
Jackson says in his lawsuit that he saw an influx of African American employees at KSHB after Cooper sued. Previously, he contends, no African Americans had been hired or featured for premium on-air positions.
Both Cooper and Jackson are still employed at the station.
KSHB is a member of the Scripps TV Station Group.