Technician who wore mariachi outfit to work claims CNN fired him ‘for being gay’
A former CNN technician is suing the news channel for $60 million, claiming he was fired due to his sexual orientation.
William Kane said bosses at CNN’s New York City studios became unhappy at his colourful clothing after hearing about his engagement to his male partner.
The New York Daily News reports Mr Kane worked at CNN for over 10 years and claims for the majority of that time no one ever complained about his wardrobe.
He would sometimes wear clothes that included mariachi outfits, yellow track suits and cowboy hats.
Mr Kane’s lawyer, Rocco Avallone, said his client – who is married to a Mexican man – wore the mariachi suit to work in October 2012 because it was in keeping with the theme of a news report.
“I felt so insulted by what happened because we were a family at CNN,” Mr Kane said. “I was fired with a phone call for being gay.”
The lawsuit states that after Mr Kane’s supervisor John Silva learned that he was gay, his workplace environment became hostile.
He alleges that Mr Silva told him he didn’t want him to wear either his black or yellow mariachi suits “because it was too flamboyant for a male in our department.”
Mr Silva suggested to Mr Kane that he might be better suited in the “entertainment or make-up department.”
Mr Kane claims he had the support of several CNN presenters when it came to his work attire.
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In his lawsuit he claims that a supervisor offered him $100 (£59) to buy something from TJ Maxx after former presenter Piers Morgan had complained that Mr Kane’s blue track suit was too distracting.
When he later confronted Morgan about the issue, the British journalist denied that it had been a problem and it’s claimed by Mr Kane that Morgan said he loved the suit.
Another time Mr Kane claims he was ordered to change out of a white suit and red tie because CNN anchor Erin Burnett considered it “too flashy”. She denied to his face making any such comment.
In 2012, CNN presenter Christiane Amanpour tweeted a photo of Mr Kane standing next to her in his mariachi suit, saying: “¡ARRIBA! The lovely Billy with our studio crew arrived on set in style today.”
Mr Kane claims he was singled out, despite the fact that the department had had a tradition of wearing colourful shirts on Thursdays between 2002 and 2008.
A CNN spokesperson said: “We have not seen the lawsuit. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) dismissed the claims finding no violations.”