Mediator Says William Morris Guilty of Racial Discrimination Against African American Employee

How do you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? By winning on the battlefield and losing at the peace table. That was my critique of the gigantic struggle against apartheid when compared to the economic and political situation that prevails in the Republic of South Africa today.

In the U.S., a young man is on the verge of a huge victory on the legal battlefield and he must not become a loser at the peace table. That young man, a veritable “David,” is about to topple a “Goliath!” I’m writing about Marcus Washington, a young African American male who is going up against William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (formerly known as William Morris Agency, the oldest talent agency in Hollywood) and its bevvy of politically connected lawyers: 6 attorneys and 3 paralegals at the elite law firm, Loeb & Loeb LLP. Also, for the second year in a row, one of those opposing attorneys, Michael P. Zweig, has been named “Best Lawyer” in Labor & Employment Litigation by The Best Lawyers in America (2013-2014) and last year, he was named “New York Super Lawyer” for Employment & Labor by Thomson Reuters. Laughingly, this same celebrated attorney was the Chairperson of the Loeb & Loeb Diversity Initiative Committee between 2002 and 2010 and is the Co-Chair of the Employment and Labor Practice Group, while for three years, he has adamantly denied that William Morris has engaged in any unlawful conduct.


William Morris Endeavor Entertainment is headed by Ari Emanuel, the very same outfit that, I was told, stepped in to dampen enthusiasm and support for an excellent documentary by Ian Inaba about my life in politics, American Blackout. Well, Marcus alleged in his complaint filed with the Southern District of New York on December 21, 2010 that this little racist outfit has discriminated against Blacks for more than a century by denying qualified people of color equal employment opportunities, particularly by excluding them from higher-status, higher paying positions such as Agent, thus giving this Hollywood talent agency a race-based monopoly in representing Black talent in all areas of entertainment – from the concert stage to the box office! No wonder so many Black “superstars” are going broke and worse, going to jail! Let’s see if the ones so afflicted also just happen to be the Black celebrities that have a heart for Black people.

Marcus Washington, representing himself as a pro se litigant in a case alleging employment discrimination and institutionalized racism against William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, is on the verge of winning! Look at their client list and see just how big a case this is! According to this 2009 Variety story, William Morris clients include Eddie Murphy, Tyler Perry, Queen Latifah, Forest Whitaker, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Roker, 50 Cent, the late Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Kanye West, and many others to name a few. I’ll bet anything that the rest of Black celebritydom is represented by another powerhouse talent agency – Creative Artists Agency (CAA). There are two or three other major talent agencies that were not sued, but according to Leonard Rowe, former President of the Black Concert Promoters Association, these two giants have used demeaning language to refer to their Black clients and the Black community and have put Black concert promoters out of business. Evidence of the demeaning language surfaced in Rowe’s case in 2002 and has been introduced in a total of three Hollywood cases thus far: one brought by Leonard Rowe and a class of black concert promoters who paid $200,000.00 to search the backup tapes of William Morris and CAA but were told by their own attorneys at the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP (now known as Dentons LLP) that no derogatory terms were ever found, although Rowe discovered this smoking gun evidence on the desk of one of his former attorneys a month later; another suit was a copyright infringement action against Byron Allen and his distributors 20th Century Fox and Starz/ Anchor Bay brought by recording artist and television producer Mark Skeete; and Washington’s suit is the third lawsuit utilizing the e-mail evidence of Hollywood’s demeaning attitude toward Blacks.

The evidence of Hollywood’s unvarnished racial animus introduced in all three of these cases points to the regular use of the words “nigger,” “monkey,” “Uncle Tom,” “coon,” “spooks,” and more in internal e-mail traffic of these agencies’ top Agents and employees. So it should not be a surprise that, according to Marcus Washington’s evidence, William Morris had an explicit policy of not hiring Black agents from 1898 to 1961 and that in 1963, there were more Black Agents employed in the New York office at William Morris (one) than there were when Washington worked there between 2008-2010 (zero).

Recently, the arbitrator in Washington’s case found that William Morris did unlawfully discriminate against Marcus because of his race and that Marcus has suffered monetary damages as a result of that discrimination and that Marcus is due legal fees and costs as a prevailing pro se non-attorney in this three-year legal battle that is still on-going. This is huge!!!!

ARI EMANUEL, is the co-CEO of an organization that is GUILTY of RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.

All the world needs to know this, especially “Hollywood” and the entertainment world. Sealing this decision will prevent all interested parties from knowing that the employment practices of one of the most important cultural organizations in the world.

Now, it is up to Marcus, the Arbitrator and “Lady Justice” to make sure this important victory for civil and human rights is not lost at the peace table. Let’s hope that 2014 will be the year for justice for all who have been discriminated against, oppressed, repressed, stigmatized, ridiculed, silenced, or marginalized by those who wield imperial power with absolute hubris over the individuals and groups that they dominate.

More information and updates on Marcus’s case can be found here.

Cynthia McKinney was a presidential candidate for the Green Party in the 2008 election. Read other articles by Cynthia, or visit Cynthia's website.