By Tim Graham ~
John Koblin at The New York Times reported that Anand Gupta, the former executive vice president for finance, field a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Manhattan alleging he was denied a promised promotion and salary increase due to racial discrimination. But the newsworthy part was his financial claims.
In the network’s first year on the air in 2013, the suit asserts, citing tax returns, it had a net operating loss of $250 million, and in 2014 it lost an additional $335 million.
Mr. Gupta, who is Indian, said Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, had reneged on a promise made by his predecessor, Ehab Al Shihabi, that would have elevated Mr. Gupta to the position of chief financial officer.
In the suit, Mr. Gupta asserts that, among other freewheeling spending habits, the network continued to pay more than $11,000 a month for an apartment intended for Mr. Shihabi, which went empty after he was ousted last year. It also asserts that Al Jazeera America is responsible for more than $800 million in the process of winding down, if it pays out its contracts to cable operators in full.
“We strongly disagree with the allegations made in Mr. Gupta’s complaint, which contains many factual inaccuracies, and we intend to vigorously defend the company’s position,” Molly Morse, a spokeswoman for Al Jazeera America, said in a statement on Friday.
Prior to joining the failed Qatar-owned network, Gupta worked for eight years within the Time Warner group, where he served for 6 years as Vice-President, Financial Planning at Warner Bros. and a further 2 years as the Vice-President, Business Planning & Operations at HBO.
A year ago, another former employee named Matthew Luke sued the network claiming a “hostile work environment, that a manager made “discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks.” The suit claims that senior vice president Osman Mahmud made remarks including, “whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in Hell.” The suit also alleges that Mahmud exhibited “overt misogynistic behavior,” including removing female employees from projects and excluding women from certain emails and meetings.