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October 09, 2018

Former 'Tonight Show' employees' lawsuit against Questlove, alleging racist firing from NBC, is dropped

Entertainment Lawsuits
questlove Jasper Colt/USA TODAY NETWORK

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson explained this week why The Roots won't reissue remastered editions of two of their earliest albums, 1995's 'Do You Want More?!!!??!' and 1996's 'Illadelph Halflife': A fire destroyed the original master recordings of the records. Questlove is shown above in a 2017 file photo.

A lawsuit filed by two former cameramen of the "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," alleging their termination was a result of racial discrimination by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, has been dropped and moved to arbitration.

After being fired from the show in 2017, Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino, who are both white, alleged their dismissal was racially charged. In June 2017, Decker and Cimino said that a stagehand, unidentified in the complaint, allegedly sent a text message containing "racist and misogynistic content" to the two cameramen, as well as to Roots bassist Mark Kelley.

According to the lawsuit, the cameramen told Roots manager Keith McPhee that they did not know why they received the text and that they both found it offensive. They were suspended and then fired. The cameramen alleged that Questlove advocated for their firing and said that all Caucasian employees who received the message should be fired.

Manhattan Judge Carol Edmead recently ruled that the claims will now be settled in arbitration with NBC and Questlove. The case was officially dismissed Friday. The arbitration order stated, "The text message directed racial animus against African Americans."

Questlove has repeatedly denied the allegations. A representative of the drummer told Pitchfork in January that the claims are "not only disrespectful to Questlove and his bandmates, but to all that truly endure racism on a daily basis. As NBC has already stated, the decisions made regarding these employees were made by NBC, alone.”

Decker and Cimino are seeking more than $1 million in damages.


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