January 25, 2018
A day after news broke of a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Amir "Questlove" Thompson, representatives for The Roots drummer and D.J. responded with forceful disapproval of the two plaintiffs and former colleagues.
On Wednesday, TMZ reported that two former NBC camera operators, Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino, both white, filed suit against Thompson and the network for dismissing them on the basis of their race.
Both of the plaintiffs worked for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," where The Roots have long been the house band for the late-night host. Decker and Cimino reportedly claimed they were fired due to misplaced blame and racial retaliation for an offensive text message that they and a member of The Roots, Mark Kelley, received from a stagehand during a taping of "The Tonight Show" last year.
The two men said they never asked to receive or responded to the text and claimed they immediately took the matter to NBC executives to assert their innocence. They were ultimately dismissed, they said, after Questlove "demanded" that they be let go, according to the court documents obtained by TMZ.
Kelley, who is black, did not face any discipline for receiving the message, the content of which was not revealed. Decker and Cimino claim Kelley's retention was also racially motivated.
Questlove and The Roots have been socially active and outspoken against racial injustice for the entirety of their public lives. The lawsuit, by implication, is alleging reverse racism and selective punishment.
In a statement to HipHopDX, the bandleader's reps rejected the merits of the lawsuit.
“Questlove denies the ridiculous allegations made in this lawsuit," the statement reads. "Racism is REAL and exists throughout the world, and for these gentlemen to claim victim is not only disrespectful to Questlove and his bandmates, but to all that truly endure racism on a daily basis.”
NBC, in a statement of its own, denied that lawsuit's allegation that Questlove was responsible for the firing of Decker and Cimino, who are reportedly seeking $1 million in damages.
"NBC is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. We have strong policies in place that protect against discrimination in any form. The decision about these plaintiffs was the company's alone."