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LOUIS R. MILLER (State Bar No. 54141) smiller@millerbarondess.com ·

AMNON Z. SIEGEL (State Bar No. 234981) asiegel@millerbarondess.com

LAUREN R. WRIGHT (State Bar No. 280809) lwright@ millerbarondess.com

MILLER BARONDESS, LLP 1999 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 1000

Los Angeles, California 90067 Telephone: (310) 552-4400

Facsimile:

(31 0) 552-8400

Attorneys for Plaintiff Knoyme King

CONFORMED COPY

ORIGINALIIILJ:D

Supe>for Cdort Ot C:olll~•,nl•

County OCI.OSAftt<ln

APR 27Z015

Sherri A. Carter, Executive Officer/Clerk By: Kristina Vargas, Deputy

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, CENTRAL DISTRICT

KNOYME KING, anindividual,

v.

Plaintiff,

AT&T SERVICES, INC., a Delaware corporation; AT&T, INC., a Delaware

corporation; RANDALL L. S'J;EPHENSON, an individual; JOYCE ROCHE, an individual;

AARON SLATOR, an individual; JOHN STANKEY, an individual; RYAN SMITH, an

individual; JEFF WEBER, an individual; DANIEL YORK, an individual; and DOES 1-

10, inclusive,

Defendants.

254439.5

CASE NO.

COMPLAINT FOR:

(1) UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF RACE;

(2) UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT ON THE BASIS OF RACE;

(3) UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF AGE;

(4) UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT ON THE BASIS OF AGE;

(5) UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT ON THE BASIS OF SEX;

(6) UNLAWFUL RETALIATION;

(7) AIDING AND ABETTING FEHA VIOLATIONS;

(8) FAILURE TO PREVENT HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION, AND RETALIATION;

(9) INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS; AND

BC5797t:7

.

(10) NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

COMPLAINT

 

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Plaintiff Knoyme King ("King") alleges against Defendants AT&T Services, Inc., AT&T,

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Inc. (together, "AT&T"), Randall L. Stephenson ("Stephenson"), Joyce Roche ("Roche"), Aaron

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Slator ("Slator"), John Stankey ("Stankey"), Ryan Smith ("Smith"), Jeff Weber ("Weber"), Daniel

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York ("York"), and Does 1 through 10, inclusive (collectively, "Defendants"), as follows:

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INTRODUCTION

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1.

Plaintiff Knoyme King, a 50-year-old African American woman, has worked at

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AT&T for over 30 years.

King has witnessed-and experienced-

race and age discrimination and

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harassment by senior AT&T executives (all of whom are White males).

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2.

Defendant Aaron Slator is one of King ' s bosses . Slator is a racist and is particularly

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bigoted against African Americans. In furtherance of his racist acts, Slator exposed King and

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another African American subordinate to the racially derogatory and discriminatory images below

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(attached as Exhibits A & B hereto):

 

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Exhibit A

Slator text messaged this image to a friend, calling it an "oldie but goodie."

NoS

text messaged this image to a friend, calling it an "oldie but goodie." NoS k .2

k

text messaged this image to a friend, calling it an "oldie but goodie." NoS k .2

.2 of2,

text messaged this image to a friend, calling it an "oldie but goodie." NoS k .2

Ba

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Exhibit B

This image was also found on Slator's work phone by an African American colleague.

28 Exhibit B This image was also found on Slator's work phone by an African American

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3. These images, put out by Slator who is the President of AT&T, are beyond

offensive. When Slator sent the picture of the African child via text message, he referred to it as

an "oldie but goodie." Slator transmitted these images on his work phone, evidencing deep-rooted

racial bigotry in his place of employment.

4. These messages evoke the type of revolting racism that existed in this country

when slavery was abolished in 1865 . Whites objectified African Americans for ridicule, mockery

and sex; they called them the "N-word"; and viewed them as primitive and subhuman. This high-

ranking AT&T executive-Slator-condones the use of the "N-word." This attitude is consistent

with the demenor Slator portrays at the office and is reflected in his discriminatory employment

practices.

5. As AT&T's President of Content and Advertising Sales , Slator has a powetful

influence over the television and entertainment industry. He is the head of AT&T's Television

Division, U-Verse.

He reports to Defendant Stephenson, the Chairman and Chief Executive

Officer of the parent company, AT&T, Inc. He also has a close working relationship with

Defendant Stankey, AT&T Inc.'s Chief Strategy Officer. Slator manages AT&T's multi-billion

dollar budget for content acquisition, and he has final decision-making authority over what

programming AT&T distributes to its 6 million subscribers on its U-Verse television platform.

also has the power to hire and fire employees.

He

6. Slator' s discriminatory animus is part of a course of conduct at AT&T that has

been condoned, encouraged and ratified throughout the years by the highest levels at AT&T.

Indeed, AT&T Inc.'s board members and high-level executives-including Defendants

Stephenson, Roche, and Stankey-have known about Slator's racism and these appalling

messages on his work phone for some time, but have done nothing about them.

Instead of

terminating Slator or otherwise properly dealing with his racist conduct, AT&T engaged in an

illegal coverup. By covering for Slator, AT&T has facilitated and enabled his racism. AT&T

Inc.'s knowledge , ratification and illegal scheme to cover up Slator' s racist practices ties the

parent company-and Defendants Stephenson, Roche and Stankey-into the racial discrimination

in this case.

254439.5

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7. Recently, in October 2014, King applied for a job opening to act as Slator's

executive assistant.

King had performed the tasks of that role in the past.

She was recommended

for the position by Slator's previous executive assistant. Nevertheless, Slator hired someone with

no experience to fill the role:

He hired Susie Bercerra, a younger, non-African American

candidate who was having a romantic affair with Slator. The message was clear. Despite her

experience and recommendation, King was deemed unqualified for the job because of her race,

because of her age and because she was not engaging in a romantic relationship with her boss.

8. King has been discriminated against in her compensation at AT&T. During her 30

years at AT&T, King received minimal pay raises. A lesser-experienced, white colleague in a

lower-level position than King received higher pay raises each year.

9. No matter how hard she works or how well she performs her job , King was given

short shrift due to the color of her skin.

10. During her 30 years of employment with AT&T-more than ten of which were

served under the individual Defendants named herein (AT&T President Slator and his

predecessors, Defendants Weber and York)- King has repeatedly been passed over for

promotions that went to lesser-qualified, younger, non-African American employees; given

smaller raises as compared with non-African American colleagues; and is now being pushed out

of the company under the guise of taking "early retirement."

11. The hostile workplace under Slator is a continuation of hi s predecessors ' -

Defendants Weber's and York's- abusive conduct as Presidents of AT&T. York, Weber and

Slator created a work environment in which King could never get ahead. For example,

Defendants York and Slator both made discriminatory comments that King could not go any

further at AT&T because she was "too old" and that it was "too late" for her.

Under Weber,

advancement was based on who was engaging in sexual activities with him. Any career

advancement opportunities were reserved for King's non-African American, younger co-workers,

who were often engaging in romantic affairs with the boss.

12. King has complained about the discriminatory treatment she and other similarly-

situated employees faced at AT&T.

254439.5

But rather than address and remedy it, AT&T focused its

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efforts on an illegal cover-up. For example, when AT&T and its board members were made aware

of the racist images on Slator's company cell phone, AT&T's supposedly third party Equal

Employment Opportunity Consultant interviewed AT&T employees to determine whether anyone

other than Slator' s executive assistant had seen the images. AT&T wanted to ensure that it could

keep Slator' s racism under wraps. AT&T has allowed Slator to continue-unabated and

unchecked-in his position as President.

13. King has endured years of discrimination at the hands of Defendants Slator, Weber

and York-conduct that was condoned and ratified by AT&T and its board members and high-

level executives, Defendants Stephenson, Roche, and Stankey.

14. King seeks to put an end to Slator' s and AT&T ' s ongoing discrimination , and to

recover damages for the harm and suffering she has incurred.

PARTIES

15. Plaintiff King is, and at all times relevant to this Complaint was, a resident of the

County of Los Angeles in the State of California.

King is, and at all times mentioned herein was,

an employee of Defendant AT&T Services, Inc., located in Los Angeles, California.

16 .

AT&T Services, Inc . and AT&T, Inc . are

Delaware corporations with their

principal places of business in Dallas, Texas.

AT&T Services, Inc. also has an office and operates

in Los Angeles, California, where King is employed. AT&T, Inc. is the parent company of,

among others, AT&T Services, Inc., which reports directly to AT&T, Inc.

AT&T , Inc. is headed

up by a Board of Directors, which is responsible for establishing and enforcing company-wide

policies and practices , including with regard to anti-discrimination and other employment policies.

17. King is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that at all relevant times

herein Defendant Stephenson is and was a resident of the State of Texas and the County of Dallas.

18. King is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that at all relevant times

herein Defendant Roche is and was a resident of the State of Georgia and the County of Chatham .

19. King is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges , that at all relevant times

herein , Defendant Slator is and was a resident of the State of California and the County of Los

Angeles.

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20. King is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that at all relevant times

herein Defendant Stephenson is and was a resident of the State of Texas and the County of Dallas.

21. King is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that at all relevant times

herein, Defendant Smith is and was a resident of the State of California and the County of Los

Angeles.

22. King is informed and believes, and ori that basis alleges, that at all relevant times

herein, Defendant Weber is and was a resident of the State of California and the County of Los

Angeles.

23. King is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that at all relevant times

herein, Defendant York is and was a resident of the State of California and the County of Los

Angeles.

24. King is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendants Does 1

through 10, inclusive, are individually and/or jointly liable to King for the

wrongs alleged herein .

The true names and capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate or otherwise, of

Defendants Does 1 through 10, inclusive, are unknown to King at this time.

Accordingly, King

sues Defendants Does 1 through 10, inclusive, by fictitious names and will amend this Complaint

to allege their true names and capacities after they are ascertained.

25. King alleges that each of the Defendants is, and at all times relevant to this

Complaint was, the employee, agent, employer, partner, joint venturer, alter ego, affiliate,

principal, and/or co-conspirator of the other Defendants and, in doing the acts alleged herein, was

acting within the course and scope of such positions at the direction of, and/or with the

permission, knowledge, consent and/or ratification of, the other Defendants.

As such, each

Defendant, through its acts and omissions, is responsible for the wrongdoing alleged herein and

for the damages suffered by King.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

26. Pursuant to Article VI, section 10 of the California Constitution, subject matter

jurisdiction is proper in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles , State of

California.

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27. Pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure, venue is proper in this county

because this is where Defendants are located, do business and/or where the unlawful acts giving

rise to this action occurred.

King worked and was paid.

Venue is further proper in this county because it was the county where

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

A. King Has Been a Loyal And Dedicated AT&T Employee For Over 30 Years

28.

King was hired by AT&T in 1985, when she was twenty years old.

She began as

an operator, and worked her way up to her current position as Content Coordinator in AT&T ' s U-

Verse group.

King has been a part of the U-Verse team almost since its inception, joining the

team in February 2005.

29. In her role as Content Coordinator, King is responsible for handling vendor

payments, organizing executive schedules, and managing executives' desks.

King currently

reports to Defendants Slator and Smith.

Smith is Slator's right-hand man and Vice President of

Content at AT&T.

Before Slator took over the President of Content and Advertising Sales

position in June 2013, King reported to Defendant Weber; before that, she reported to Defendant

York.

30. In her 30 years at AT&T, King has received consistently positive reviews-

meeting or exceeding expectations each year.

Only recently, when King complained to AT&T

Human Resources, did King begin to receive negative feedback.

31. King is good at her job and has worked hard.

Despite this, AT&T and its board

members have sat by idly while King's superiors have discriminated against and harassed King.

B. AT &T's Top Executives Have a Practice of Discriminating on the Basis of Race

32. During Defendant York's tenure as AT&T's President of Content and Advertising

Sales (2005-2012), King was one of just two African American employees in the office. The other

African American, Denita Willoughby, was already there when York arrived.

York did everything

in his power to oust Willougby; eventually, forcing her out by hiring a White male to take over her

job duties and paying him more money than Willougby.

254439.5

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33. When York was preparing to depart AT&T, he finally agreed to hire "diverse"

employees . At the time, King was the only African American . York wanted to avoid word

getting out that the Los Angeles branch of AT&T, which was responsible for choosing the

television content distributed to millions of Americans, consisted of a nearly all-white group.

34. AT&T hired an African American woman as Executive Assistant to the President

of Content and Advertising Sales (she is referred to herein as "EA''). EA started after York left,

while Defendant Weber was heading the office; she left not long after Slator took over.

35 .

King witnessed and was aware of the mistreatment and abuse suffered by EA as a

result of her skin color.

As soon as Slator assumed the role of President of Content and

Advertising Sales , he sought to push EA out and hire Susie Becerra-

a younger, non-African

American female with whom Slator was romantically involved.

36. Slator looked for ways to get rid of EA. He encouraged EA to resign . EA told

Slator that she did not want to give up her position at AT&T.

37. Unable to convince EA to resign, Slator began complaining about EA ' s work and

treating her poorly-all with the aim of forcing EA to quit her job so he could hire his younger,

non-African American mistress, Susie Becerra, in her place.

1. EA Sees the Racist Images on Slator's Phone

38. As

part of her job duties , Slator

asked EA to transfer data from his old company

cellular telephone to his new one. While completing this task, EA came across the images

depicted at Paragraph 2 above (also attached hereto as Exhibits A & B). The text messages found

on Slator's company cell phone are attached hereto as Exhibit C. Slator text messaged the image

of the African child with

the words "It's Friday Niggas" written across the top (Ex. A) to a friend ,

referring to it as an "oldie but goodie." Ex. C.

39. Slator knew that this material was on his company phone, but nevertheless asked

EA , an African American woman, to perform the data transfer. Slator knew that EA would be

subjected to these racist words and images.

40. The fact that Slator-

a high-level AT&T executive with authority over hiring,

firing and promotional decisions-condones the use of racist language (sending an image of a

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Black child with the "N-word" on it) speaks to Slator's state of mind.

Slator harbors obviou s and

deep-seated racial animus toward African Americans.

promotions and raises are infected by his racism.

Slator's decisions regarding hiring, firing,

41. EA disclosed the offensive images and messages to AT&T, including to an AT&T

board member, Joyce Roche, and to AT&T's Equal Employment Opportunity Consultant ("EEO

Consultant"), Stephanie Davis.

On information and belief, Ms. Roche shared these images with

AT&T's Chief Executive Officer, Defendant Randall Stephenson. On information and belief,

Defendant Stankey, with whom Slator worked closely, also was made aware of the offensive

images and messages on Slator's company phone. Nevertheless, AT&T took no action to

reprimand Slator, to train or educate him, or to curb his racism. To the contrary , AT&T engaged

in a deliberate cover-up of Slator' s racism.

42. EA voluntari ly disclosed the racist images to King . King had witnessed the

discriminatory manner in which Slator treated African American employees, and now her worst

fears were confirmed:

Slator's discrimination and abuse was based on race.

2. Slator Forces Out EA and Refuses to Promote King, Instead Hi rin g His

43 .

Lesser-Qualified, Younger, Non-African American Mistress

EA no longer could endure Slator's discrimination and harassment, and, in January

2014, EA left AT&T.

44. Unbeknownst to EA, Slator had already planned to get rid of her. In fact, he

offered EA 's job to Susie Becerra in June 2013, before EA notified him of her intent to resign.

45 .

When EA informed Slator about her intent to resign, EA recommended King as her

replacement. EA informed Slator that King was experienced, qualified and hard working.

Indeed,

EA informed Slator that King had filled in for EA when EA was out, so King was familiar with

and had performed EA' s duties in the past.

46. Slator had no intention of considering King's candidacy.

He had already promised

the job to Susie Becerra, even though EA had informed Slator that Becerra lacked the necessary

expenence.

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47. Astonishingly, despite AT&T and its board members' awareness of Slator's racial

discrimination and role in pushing EA out the door, AT&T allowed Slator to hire her replacement.

AT&T knew about the racially offensive messages on Slator's phone; yet it took no steps to

ensure the position would be filled on objective, non-discriminatory terms.

3. After EA Left, Slator Mistreated King

48. Following EA's departure, Slator turned on King.

Slator knew that King and EA

had been friendly, and they were both African Americans.

Slator was rude and dismissive to

King.

He ignored her when they were in close proximity and was generally dismissive and short

with her. In addition, instead of using King who was in the same office to fulfill EA' s duties,

Slator had someone in Dallas, Texas remotely perform these tasks until Susie Becerra arrived.

49. On October 20, 2014, Slator brought King into his office to let her know that he

had given the executive assistant job to Susie Becerra. Slator was rude to King.

When King

asked why Slator had been mistreating her, Slator started yelling at King.

King was so frightened

that she thought Slator might strike her.

50. King was denied the promotion because of her race, because of her age, and

because she was not in a romantic relationship with Slator.

Instead, the job went to Susie Becerra,

a younger, non-African American female, who was romantically involved with the decision-

maker: Slator.

51. Had King known about the racist culture at AT&T, she would have left years ago

and obtained a position at another company without the racial bias and discrimination that

permeates AT&T.

52. AT&T has a pattern and practice of deciding who will fill job openings before the

positions are posted; well-qualified candidates like King do not stand a chance.

4. King Receives Smaller Raises Than Her Non-African American Colleagues

53. In addition to being denied promotional opportunities, King has been discriminated

against in terms of her compensation.

Given her consistently good job performance, King

received a pay raise each year she worked at AT&T. But these pay raises were minimal and less

than her white counterparts.

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54. In 2013, King complained to AT&T's EEO Consultant, Stephanie Davis, telling

her that she believed her pay raises were inadequate given her performance, and that they were not

commensurate with the raises her non-African American colleagues received.

55. After complaining to Ms. Davis and HR, King received a higher than average raise

(approximately 3.5%) in March 2014. But the following year, King's annual pay raise was

dropped back down to 1.9%-lower than her non-African American colleagues.

5. AT&T Retaliates Against King And Tries To Force Her Out

56. When King complained to AT&T ' s EEO Consultant, Ms. Davis, she was led to

believe her complaints would be kept confidential unless and until she elected to make a formal

complaint and request an investigation.

complaints to others at AT&T.

King learned, however, that Ms. Davis had relayed King's

57. In approximately March 2014, King was approached by Bob Reed, an AT&T

human resources representative.

did not lead anywhere.

King reiterated her concerns, but her conversation with Mr. Reed

58. Instead, King began receiving negative feedback and evaluations from her

superiors in retaliation for King's complaints regarding unequal raises and Slator's rude behavior

following EA' s departure.

59. At King's annual review in March 2015, she was given a poor performance review

by Defendant Smith, her direct supervisor.

Smith lied to King about the reasons for her negative

review.

He claimed that King would be receiving only a small pay raise because one of King's

superiors, Richard Levine (then-Vice President of Programming at AT&T), supposedly

complained about King.

King was surprised, given that she felt she went above and beyond to

support Mr. Levine.

King told Smith that she planned to approach Mr. Levine to better understand

what the issues were, but Smith dissuaded her.

Smith told King she should not bother speaking to

Mr. Levine about the negative review because he was leaving the company soon anyway.

60. Mr. Levine later learned that Smith had given this false, negative feedback to King.

He called King into his office and told her that Ryan was a "mother fucker." Mr. Levine was

upset because Smith had lied to King and made Mr. Levine the fall-guy; Mr. Levine never

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complained about King.

Smith invented reasons to justify King 's poor review and minimal pay

raise and then attempted to discourage King from discovering the truth.

61. The negative review by Smith was part and parcel of the retaliation, harassment and

illegal cover-up of discrimination at AT&T. Concerned that King was the closest and potentially

last link toEA, Smith and Slator wanted to force King out of AT&T , ju st like Slator forced out EA

(and York pushed out Willoughby).

On information and belief, Smith knew about the offensive

images on Slator's phone and actively engaged in the illegal cover-up at AT&T.

62.

In

called the AT&T

February 2015 , King made another discrimination complaint. This time, King

Hotline , which AT&T advises its employees to use to report workplace issues .

King submitted a complaint regarding Susie Becerra, reporting that she had been hired with

"special privileges," that she rarely comes to work, that work was not being completed, and that

she was not knowledgeable of the executive assistant job she had been hired to do . King also

reported that Becerra brought her son to the office several times per month , and that she kept

limited hours-typically, Susie Becerra worked from 9:30a.m . to just 2:00p.m., while the rest of

the employees in the department work full , 8-hour days.

63. In March 2015, Slator approached King about the subject. He brought King into

his office, shut the door, and spoke in a harsh tone about King's complaints.

64. Recently, AT&T has been attempting to push King out the door. For example,

after AT&T and DirecTV announced their plans to merge, AT&T's Vice President of Human

Resources, Gary Fraundorfer, reached out to King to discuss "career goals and opportunities,"

including the possibility that King would consider accepting an "early retirement" package.

65. King was surprised by the call. She told him that it was not economically feasible

for her to retire.

66 .

AT&T is trying to push

King out the door-much like Slator pushed another

African American woman, EA, out the door. This is being done in retaliation for King 's

complaints and because of her race.

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c. AT&T's Nefarious Scheme To Cover Up Clear-Cut Racism

67 .

AT&T has a

racism problem. Its top executives push out African American

employees; strip African American employees of job duties based on race; reject African

American applicants in favor of lesser-qualified, non- African American candidates; and

discriminate against African Americans in terms of compensation.

68. AT&T' s current top programming official, Slator, harbors racial animus toward

African Americans. AT&T' s EEO Consultant, HR Department, and its Board member, Roche,

were given the racist images and messages on Slater's phone. On information and belief, Roche

shared this information with AT&T CEO and Chairman of the Board, Stephenson. On

information and belief, Defendant Stankey also saw, or was made aware of, the offensive images

and messages on Slater's company phone.

69. The appropriate reaction-the morally responsible and legally required one-

would have been for AT&T to take steps to remedy this past, and to prevent future, racism by its

top television content executive. AT&T did not do this . Instead, AT&T's engaged in an illegal

cover-up, to ensure that its racism remained hidden-even at the expense of long-term, loyal

African American employees such as King and EA.

70. After EA had initiated a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity

Commission, AT&T implemented the cover-up . To avoid publicity, on information and belief,

AT&T paid EA a substantial sum of money on the condition she keep quiet and not disclose

AT&T' s racist practices.

71. Soon thereafter, AT&T's EEO Consultant, Stephanie Davis , began reaching out to

AT&T employees , including King, to carry out AT&T's cover-up.

AT&T wanted to determine

whether other employees had been exposed to the racist images and messages on Slater 's cell

phone and/or EA 's complaints about Slator.

72. AT&T was deliberately attempting to conceal Slater's racism.

AT&T wanted to

ensure that the images on Slater's phone never saw the light of day.

73. In discussing EA 's departure, AT&T's EEO Consultant asked King whether she

had seen any photographs, referring to the images on Slater's work phone. Concerned about

254439.5

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possible retaliation, King said nothing about the images.

AT&T thought it had succeeded in its

illegal cover-up.

King complained to Ms. Davis about EA's mistreatment and abuse by Slator, as

she was aware of and had witnessed much of it.

74. AT&T led King to believe that her conversations with the EEO Consultant would

be confidential; in fact, AT&T's EEO Consultant website, to which AT&T employees are directed

to submit complaints , indicates that it is intended to be "a confidential and anonymous online

process to report suspected or actual violations of AT&T' s Code of Business Conduct, EEO

policies and other Company policies."

75. During King' s conversations with the EEO Consultant, King disclosed that since

EA left AT&T, King felt Slator had been retaliating against King because she was the same race

as EA.

King also mentioned her concerns regarding unequal compensation and pay raises.

76. Despite the assurances of confidentiality, King later discovered that Ms. Davis had

disclosed the substance of their conversation to others at AT&T, including Bob Reed .

77. Shortly after the racist images on Slator' s phone were brought to the attention of

AT&T's upper echelon, including Roche, AT&T held human resources training for the U-Verse

team. The training was part of AT&T' s concealment and cover-up; Slator did not even attend.

78. After King witnessed how board member Joyce Roche ignored EA ' s cry for help

but instead helped to covered up the racism and harassment, King felt she could not trust the board

members as well as Jessie Jackson, AI Sharpton, the NAACP, The Urban League and other so-

called civil rights organizations. King was very disappointed these so-called civil rights

organizations had taken donations from AT&T and had given AT&T sham diversity awards in

exchange for those donations. None of those so-called civil rights organizations ever asked any of

the African American employees at AT&T if they were happy or felt they were being mistreated.

King was completely disgusted by these organizations because they honored AT&T for small

donations even though AT&T does not respect or honor Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday as a

national holiday.

African American AT&T employees have to forfeit one of their own personal

vacation days to honor the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. Mrs . King reserves the right to

name these organizations as defendants.

254439.5

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D. AT&T's Top Executives Have a Practice of Discriminating on the Basis of Age

79. Not only has King been subjected to rampant racial discrimination in her time at

AT&T, but she has also been discriminated against on the basis of her age.

80. King has always set high goals for herself.

has aimed to excel at and advance in her career.

Rather than simply "getting by," King

81.

For example, when King was reporting to Defendant York, a higher-level position

opened up.

King approached York to discuss her qualifications for the position.

York informed

her that he thought the role would be best suited for someone with a law degree.

King told York

that she would be willing to go to law school so that she could apply for the position the next time

it was available.

82. Rather than commending King's self-initiative, York discouraged it.

He told her:

"It's too late for you." According to York, King was too old to advance at AT&T.

83. York even went so far as to refuse King's request for mentorship for the same

reason.

King had approached York seeking his advice on steps she could take to improve her

skills and knowledge so she would be a stronger candidate for future, higher-level positions within

the company.

York reiterated that it was "too late" for King.

84. In other words, York was willing to provide guidance and mentorship only to

younger employees; for employees like King, it was "too late." This age discrimination inhibited

King's career trajectory and opportunity to obtain higher-level (and thus higher-paying) positions

at AT&T or elsewhere.

85. In 2012, York left AT&T to become DirecTV's Chief Content Officer. In that role,

too, York discriminated against older employees.

he could replace her with a younger, white male.

York pushed out a 55-year-old woman so that

York has a pattern of practice of getting rid of

employees on the basis of age, race and gender to replace them with younger white male

employees (who he awards higher compensation).

86. The age discrimination continued even after York's tenure at AT&T.

Defendant

Slator, too, made discriminatory comments regarding King's age and discouraged her from taking

steps to further her education and career.

254439.5

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87. In a meeting with EA, Slator disparaged King , questioning King's skills and ability

based on her age.

King had disclosed to Slator that she was working to obtain her Masters in

Business Administration ("MBA"). Rather than encouraging King, Slator mocked her.

Slator told

EA:

"What's the point of her [King] getting her MBA? At her age, she isn ' t going anywhere in

this company." Slator also stated:

"Diversity candidate or not, she' s too old. She's not going any

further; trust me."

88. By comparison, Slator encouraged younger AT&T employees to pursue Masters

degrees. When EA told Slator that a secretary was putting together an application for an MBA

program, Slator asked:

"How old is she?" EA told Slator that the secretary was in her early

twenties.

Slator nodded and said "good." Slator's employment decisions (e.g. , hiring, firing ,

promotions) were infected by this animosity toward older employees.

89. King was using her free time to take MBA classes at night.

Once she learned of

Slator' s discriminatory comments, she was discouraged and dissuaded from continuing her MBA

program.

E.

Defendant Weber Subjected King to a Hostile Working Environment

90.

During Weber's tenure as AT&T ' s top programming official (2012-2013), Weber

engaged in at least one illicit relationship with another AT&T employee. Weber favored and

treated that employee better than other AT&T employees, including King.

And the employee took

advantage of her relationship with Weber, treating King and other employees with di srespect and ·

pawning off her work on others-knowing she could get away with her inappropriate behavior

because of her romantic involvement with the boss.

91. Under Weber's reign, there was an unspoken office quid pro quo policy:

The

secret to success was not excelling at work, but rather engaging in a sexual relationship with your

superior. King and others who did not participate in such behavior were denied opportunities to

succeed and to rise in the ranks at AT&T.

On information and belief, King also received lower

pay raises than the AT&T employee who was romantically involved with Weber, although King

was perfonning her job duties as well as-or better than-this employee.

92. Eventually, the relationship between Weber and the AT&T employee deteriorated.

254439.5

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Disgruntled by the termination of their illicit relationship, Weber pushed the AT&T employee out

the door.

In other words, once the relationship was over, so too was the AT&T employee's job.

This was the environment at AT&T.

93. AT&T was aware of Weber's relationship with the AT&T employee and the ways

in which the relationship adversely affected the office environment.

Nevertheless, AT&T took no

steps to institute or enforce an office policy prohibiting such relationships or to ensure that

employees who refused to engage in such relationships were not mistreated.

Indeed, as discu ssed

below, AT&T condoned and ratified romantic relationships between AT&T employees and high-

level executives on future occasions as well.

EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES

94. On April 26, 2015, King filed a timely complaint of discrimination against

Defendants with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") pursuant to the Fair

Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA").

King received an immediate right-to-sue letter from

DFEH on April 26, 2015. A true and correct copy of the DFEH right-to-sue letter is attached as

Exhibit D.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION

Unlawful Discrimination on the Basis of Race in Violation of FEHA

(Against AT&T Services, Inc. and Does 1-10)

95. King hereby repeats, realleges and incorporates each foregoing and subsequent

paragraph of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. and further alleges as follows:

96. As described hereinabove, the actions of Defendants constitute unlawful

discrimination on the basis of race against King.

King is informed and believes, and based

thereon alleges, that in perpetuating the above-described conduct, Defendants and/or their

managers, agents or employees engaged in a pattern and practice of unlawful discrimination on

account of race in violation of FEHA, including but not limited to California Government Code

section 12940(a).

97. During the course of King's employment, Defendants engaged in, condoned, or

ratified severe, pervasive and unlawful race discrimination by stripping King of job duties she had

254439.5

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previously performed; materially changing the conditions of her employment; refusing to promote

King to executive assistant and other positions , instead giving these jobs to younger, non-African

American employees who were more junior in education and experience to King ; by giving King

unequal pay raises compared to her non-African American colleagues; and by encouraging King

voluntarily to take early retirement, all on the basis of race.

98. As a proximate result of Defendants ' unlawful conduct, King has suffered and

continues to sustain substantial losses in earning and other employment benefits.

King has also

suffered and continues to suffer emotional, physical and mental injuries, and loss of reputation.

King 's damages are in excess of $100 million, to be determined according to proof at trial.

99. The aforementioned acts of Defendants were malicious, willful, oppressive,

despicable, and in conscious disregard of King's rights and the resulting harm to her.

King is

therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish AT&T-a multi-billion-

dollar company-and make an example of it.

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

Unlawful Harassment on the Basis of Race in Violation of FEHA

(Against AT&T Inc., AT&T Services, Inc., Stephenson, Roche, York, Slator, Smith, and

100.

Does 1-10)

King hereby repeats, realleges and incorporates each foregoing and subsequent

paragraph of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. and further alleges as follows:

101.

As described hereinabove, the actions of Defendants constitute unlawful

harassment on the basis of race against King.

This harassment created a hostile, intimidating and

oppressive work environment for King, whereby the conditions of her employment were adversely

affected.

The race-based harassment was pervasive.

King was repeatedly subjected to

discriminatory conduct on the basis of her race, including, but not limited to, being retaliated

against, mistreated and stripped of job duties after EA left AT&T, simply because King was the

same race as EA; being denied promotional opportunities that instead went to lesser-qualified,

non-African American candidates; and being denied equal pay to her non-African American

colleagues.

254439.5

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King also witnessed Slator's discriminatory treatment of EA on the basis of race, and

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feared for her job because Slator did not like King simply because she was African American.

Moreover, Defendants displayed favoritism to employees outside King's protected class and

discouraged African Americans from pursuing equal opportunity in the workplace.

102. As alleged herein, Defendants Stephenson, Roche, York, Slator and Smith each

participated in, assisted, or encouraged the harassing conduct described above.

103 .

The harassment by Defendants as described in

this Complaint violated FEHA,

including but not limited to Government Code section 12940(j).

104. King complained about the harassment she suffered to her supervisor, Defendant

Smith and to Bob Reed, a member of AT&T's human resources department.

King also

complained on several occasions about perceived racial discrimination to AT&T's outside EEO

Consultant, Davis, who (contrary to AT &T's promises of confidentiality) relayed King's

complaints to AT&T.

AT&T ratified the acts of Defendants Slator, Weber and York because it

did nothing to prevent further harassment by the individual Defendants, nor did it prevent their

retaliation and interference with King's career advancement.

105. AT&T knew or should have known of the conduct by Defendants Slator, Weber

and York described herein . In fact, AT&T human resource representatives, board members and

high-level executives (Defendants Roche, Stephenson and Stankey) were made aware of the

severe and pervasive racism Slator perpetuated in the office, and yet AT&T took no steps to

remedy the harm that had already occurred or to prevent future harm. Instead, AT&T engaged in

a nefarious and deliberate cover-up in order to hide the racism that permeated AT&T' s Los

Angeles office.

106. As a proximate result of Defendants ' unlawful conduct, King has suffered and

continues to sustain substantial losses in earning and other employment benefits. King has also

suffered and continues to suffer emotional, physical and mental injuries, and loss of reputation.

King's damages are in excess of $100 million, to be determined according to proof at trial.

107. The aforementioned acts of Defendants were malicious , willful , oppressive,

despicable, and in conscious disregard of King's rights and the resulting harm to her.

King is

therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish AT&T-a multi-billion-

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dollar company- and its high-level executives-who make millions per year-and make an

example of them.

THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION

Unlawful Discrimination on the Basis of Age in Violation of FEHA

(Against AT&T Services, Inc. and Does 1-10)

108. King hereby repeats, realleges and incorporates each foregoing and subsequent

paragraph of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. and further alleges as follows:

109. King is fifty years old, and therefore falls within a protected class pursuant to

California Government Code sections 12926(b) and 12940(a).

110. As described hereinabove, the actions of Defendants constitute unlawful

discrimination on the basis of age against King.

King is informed and believes , and based thereon

alleges, that in perpetuating the above-described conduct, Defendants and/or their managers,

agents or employees engaged in a pattern and practice of unlawful discrimination on account of

age in violation of FEHA, including but not limited to California Government Code section

12940(a).

111. During the course of King's employment, Defendants engaged in, condoned, or

ratified severe, pervasive and unlawful age discrimination by stripping King of job duties she had

previously performed; by refusing to promote King to executive assistant and other positions,

instead giving these jobs to younger, non-African American employees who were more junior in

education and experience to King; by discouraging King from advancing her career by, among

other things, stating that it was "too late" for her and she was "too old"; and by encouraging King

voluntarily to take early retirement, all on the basis of age.

112. As a proximate result of Defendants' unlawful conduct, King has suffe~·ed and

continues to sustain substantial losses in earning and other employment benefits. King has also

suffered and continues to suffer emotional, physical and mental injuries, and loss of reputation.

King's damages are in excess of $100 million , to be determined according to proof at trial.

113. The aforementioned acts of Defendants were malicious , willful, oppressive,

despicable, and in conscious disregard of King's rights and the resulting harm to her.

254439.5

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COMPLAINT

 

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therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish AT&T-

dollar company-and make an example of it.

FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION

a multi-billion-

Unlawful Harassment on the Basis of Age in Violation ofFEHA

(Against AT&T Services, Inc., York, Slator and Does 1-10)

114. King hereby repeats, realleges and incorporates each foregoing and subsequent

paragraph of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. and further alleges as follows:

115. As described hereinabove, the actions of Defendants constitute unlawful

harassment on the basis of age against King. This harassment created a hostile, intimidating and

oppressive work environment for King, whereby the conditions of her employment were adversely

affected. The harassment was pervasive. King was repeatedly subjected to offensive comments

and behavior by Defendants York and Slator regarding her age . Defendant York refused to

provide King with mentorship and discouraged her from obtaining her law degree, telling her it

was "too late" for her to advance her career at AT&T. Defendant Slator similarly made statements

that King was "too old" to get her MBA and that she was "too old" to go anywhere within AT&T.

Slator also made such statements to or about other older employees. By contrast, Slator

encouraged a younger employee in her twenties to obtain an MBA, even going so far as to agree to

write her a letter of recommendation to business school.

116. As alleged herein , Defendants York and Slator both directly participated in the

harassing conduct described above.

117. The harassment by Defendants as described in this Complaint violated FEHA ,

including but not limited to Government Code section 12940U).

118. King complained about the harassment she suffered to her supervisor, Ryan Smith,

and to Bob Reed, a member of AT&T ' s human resources department.

King also complained to

AT&T's outside EEO Consultant, Stephanie Davis, who (contrary to her promises of

confidentiality) relayed King 's complaints to AT&T. AT&T ratified

the acts of Defendants

Slator, Weber and York because it did nothing to prevent further harassment by the individual

Defendants, nor did it prevent their retaliation and interference with King's career advancement.

254439.5

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119. AT&T knew or should have known of the conduct by Defendants Slator and Yark

described herein.

120. As a proximate result of Defendants' unlawful conduct, King has suffered and

continues to sustain substantial losses in earning and other employment benefits.

King has also

suffered and continues to suffer emotional, physical and mental injuries, and loss of reputation.

King's damages are in excess of $100 million, to be determined according to proof at trial.

121. The aforementioned acts of Defendants were malicious, willful, oppressive,

despicable, and in conscious disregard of King's rights and the resulting harm to her.

King is

therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish AT&T-a multi-billion-

dollar company-

example of them.

and its high-level executives-

who make millions per year-

and make an

FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION Unlawful Harassment on the Basis of Sex in Violation of FEHA (Against AT&T Services, Inc., Slator, Weber and Does 1-10)

122. King hereby repeats, realleges and incorporates each foregoing and subsequent

paragraph of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. and further alleges as follows:

123. As described hereinabove, the actions of Defendants constitute unlawful

harassment on the basis of sex against King. This harassment created a hostile, intimidating and

oppressive work environment for King, whereby the conditions of her employment were adversely

affected. The sexual harassment and sexual favoritism was widespread, severe and pervasive.

King was repeatedly subjected to inappropriate intra-office relationships between AT&T

executives and lower-level AT&T employees, which resulted in those employees receiving more

favorable treatment than King, including preferential treatment with regard to hiring, promotional

and pay-raise decisions.

In addition, King was subjected to substandard treatment by the AT&T

employees engaged in these illicit affairs, who knew they could get away with such inappropriate

behavior because of their romantic involvement with the boss.

King was also told about intra-

office conversations in which White male executives discussed which woman had the best back-

side in the office.

254439.5

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willing to engage in such relationships with their superiors and discouraged King and others in her

position from pursuing equal opportunity in the workplace.

124. As alleged herein , Defendants Slator and Weber both participated in the harassing

conduct described above.

125. The harassment by Defendants as described in this Complaint violated FEHA,

including but not limited to Government Code section 12940U).

126 .

King complained about the harassment she suffered to her supervisor, Ryan Smith ,

and to Bob Reed, a member of AT&T' s human resources department.

King also complained to

AT&T's outside EEO Consultant, Stephanie Davis , who (contrary to her promises of

confidentiality) relayed King's complaints to AT&T. AT&T ratified the acts of Defendants Slator

and Weber because it did nothing to prevent further harassment by the individual Defendants , nor

did it prevent their retaliation and interference with King's career advancement.

127. AT&T knew or should have known of the conduct by Defendants Slator and Weber

and described herein.

128. As a proximate result of Defendants ' unlawful conduct, King has suffered and

continues to sustain substantial losses in earning and other employment benefits. King has also

suffered and continues to suffer emotional , physical and mental injuries , and loss of reputation.

King 's damages are in excess of $100 million, to be determined according to proof at trial.

129. The aforementioned acts of Defendants were malicious, willful , oppressive,

despicable, and in conscious disregard of King's rights and the resulting harm to her.

King is

therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish AT&T-a multi-billion-

dollar company- and its high-level executives-who make millions per year-and make an

example of them.

SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION

Unlawful Retaliation in Violation of FEHA

(Against AT&T Services, Inc. and Does 1-10)

130. King hereby repeats, realleges and incorporates each foregoing and subsequent

paragraph of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. and further alleges as follows:

254439.5

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COMPLAINT

 

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131. As alleged herein , Defendants, and each of them, and/or their managers, agents and

employees knew or reasonably should have known that employees of Defendant AT&T,

individually and together in varying combinations, were engaging in the cond uct set forth above.

132. FEHA prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for engaging in

a protected activity. Disclosure of and opposition to an employer's race and age discrimination is

a protected activity under FEHA, California Government Code section 12940(a).

133. King made complaints to AT&T's third-party EEO Consultant, Stephanie Davis ,

which were disclosed to AT&T, including that King was harassed and discriminated against on the

basis of race and age by Defendant Slator and that King received discriminatory pay raises as

compared to her non-African American colleagues. King made these same complaints to Ryan

Smith and to Bob Reed, AT&T's human resources representative .

134. In violation of FEHA, AT&T retaliated against King for complaining about the

above discrimination and harassment, including by giving her negative performance reviews and

lower annual pay raises than her non- African American colleagues. Defendant Slator treated

King with animosity following her complaint regarding unequal and unfair treatment. Even

though King used to perform EA ' s

duties when she was out, after EA was forced out of AT&T,

Slator refused to deal with King. He ignoring her in the office and used an assistant based in

Dallas to cover EA ' s duties , even though Slator and King were in the same office in Los Angeles .

135 .

As a proximate result of Defendants' unlawful conduct, King has suffered and

continues to sustain substantial losses in earning and other employment benefits. King has also

suffered and continues to suffer emotional, physical and mental injuries, and loss of reputation.

King ' s damages are in excess of $100 million , to be determined according to proof at trial.

136. The aforementioned acts of Defendants were malicious, willful , oppressive,

despicable, and in conscious disregard of King ' s rights and the resulting harm to her.

King is

therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish AT&T-

a multi-billion-

dollar company-

and make an example of it.

254439.5

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COMPLAINT

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SEVENTH CAUSE OF ACTION

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Aiding and Abetting FEHA Violations

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(Against Defendants AT&T Inc., Roche, Stephenson, Stankey, and Does 1-10)

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137.

King hereby repeats , realleges and incorporates each foregoing and subsequent

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paragraph of this Complaint as though fully set forth herein. and further alleges as follows:

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138.

As alleged herein , Defendant Slator discriminated against and harassed King and

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other African American employees on the basis of race, in violation of FEHA, California

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Government Code sections 12940(a) and 129400).

 

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139.

As alleged herein , Defendants AT&T Inc., Roche, Stephenson, and Stankey had

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knowledge of Slator's discriminatory conduct and harassment and knew that such conduct

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constituted a breach of the duties owed to AT&T's employees, including King. Defendants

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AT&T Inc., Roche, Stephenson, Stankey further knew that Slator 's conduct constituted a violation

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ofFEHA .

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140.

Defendants AT&T Inc. , Roche, Stephenson, and Stankey knew that Slator would

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continue to discriminate against and harass African American employees , including King.

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Defendants AT&T Inc ., Roche , Stephenson, and Stankey gave substantial assistance and

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encouragement to Slator to violate King 's rights under FEHA. As alleged herein, Defendants

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AT&T Inc., Roche , Stephenson, and Stankey engaged in a widespread, illegal cover-up to hide

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Slator' s racist conduct. These defendants used everything at their disposal to carry out this cover-

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up, including, among other things: paying off EA for her silence; engaging the EEO Consultant

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immediately after EA left to interview King and other employees about Slator's racism ; making

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sure that the racist images would not be revealed to the public; using AT&T 's HR department to

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do sham training and pulling King aside to interview her; and encouraging AT&T to find a way to

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force King out of the company. By taking affirmative steps to whitewash Slator's discrimination

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and harassment, Defendants AT&T Inc. , Roche, Stephenson, and Stankey substantially assisted

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and encouraged Slator to continue such conduct in the future.

 

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141.

Defendants AT&T Inc. , Roche , Stephenson, and Stankey 's

aiding and abetting, as

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described in this Complaint, violated FEHA , including but not limited to Government Code

254439.5

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COMPLAINT

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section 12940(i).

142.

As a proximate result of Defendants ' unlawful conduct, King has suffered and

continues to sustain substantial losses in earning and other employment benefits.

King has also

suffered and continues to suffer emotional, physical and mental injuries , and loss of reputation.

King ' s damages are in excess of $100 million, to be

determined according to proof at trial.

143. The aforementioned acts of Defendants were malicious, willful, oppressive,

despicable, and in conscious

disregard of King ' s rights and the resulting harm to her.

King is

therefore entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish AT&T-

a multi-billion-

dollar company- and its high-level executives-who make millions per year-and make an

example of them.

EIGHTH CAUSE OF ACTION Failure to Take Reasonable Steps to Prevent Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation in

Violation of FEHA (Against Defendants AT&T Services, Inc. and Does 1-10)

144.