(JTA) – A fired Al Jazeera America employee is suing the network alleging a hostile work environment that included “discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks.”
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, Matthew Luke was fired in February 10 days after he complained about the behaviour of his supervisor, Osman Mahmud, to human resources. Luke worked as Al Jazeera America’s supervisor of media and archive management beginning in May 2013, before the news channel had formally launched. It has been on the air for 20 months.
Luke’s attorneys are seeking $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages for the company’s alleged retaliation against Luke for complaining about Mahmud.
The lawsuit accuses Mahmud, who oversaw Broadcast Operations and Technology at the network, of making remarks deemed anti-Semitic such as “whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell,” and expressing a desire to replace an Israeli cameraman with a Palestinian one, as well as excluding women from emails and meetings, the TVNewser website reported. Mahmud, the suit says, also replaced female employees with male ones and filled positions with men of Middle Eastern descent.
Mahmud, who began as a news editor at the network, rose to his supervisory position because he was well connected with Al Jazeera America’s backers, the suit claims.
Al Jazeera in response to the suit said it does not comment on pending litigation.