CBS, Paramount Respond to Discrimination Suit Filed by Writer Over Alleged Bias Against Straight, White Men

By Madz Dizon

May 24, 2024 05:15 AM EDT

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CBS and parent company Paramount Global have filed a motion to dismiss the discrimination suit brought forward by a writer from "SEAL Team." The writer alleges that the network discriminated against him based on his identity as a straight, white man.

CBS Claims First Amendment Against Anti-White Discrimination Suit

According to Deadline, the request to dismiss the complaint comes more than two months after Brian Beneker, a script coordinator and freelance scriptwriter for "SEAL Team," alleged that he was passed over for a staff writer position. He claimed that the network showed preference towards writers who are nonwhite, LGBTQ, or female, even if they lacked experience and screenwriting credits.

Molly Lens, a partner from O'Melveny & Myers, filed a request on Thursday, arguing that the suit should be dismissed. She claimed that CBS has a constitutional right under the First Amendment to choose the writers who contribute to CBS's creative endeavors.

In the filing, Lens clarified that the First Amendment takes precedence over statutes, such as anti-discrimination laws, that could potentially require an expressive enterprise like CBS to compromise its own message.

She contended that providing Beneker with relief in this case would go against the principles of the First Amendment and therefore should be dismissed solely on that ground.

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'Seal Team' Writer Seeks $500,000 in Damages

The filing asserts that CBS TV series are considered "protected speech" under the First Amendment, indicating that the scripts for each episode are also protected.

The filing stated that CBS has the right to choose employees whose work impacts the expression of their works, due to their expressive nature.

According to the First Amendment principle of speaker's autonomy, CBS has the right to receive deference in developing its artistic message and choosing who conveys that message, including the writers' room assembly.

"SEAL Team" will conclude after its seventh season on Paramount+, following its previous run on CBS. The impact of Beneker's aspiration to become a full-time producer on the show remains uncertain. Beneker is also requesting $500,000 in damages for his claimed lost wages, The Wrap reported.

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