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Former sports editor sues Gannett, D&C for racial discrimination

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  • Staff Report 

Steven Bradley, ex-sports editor for the Democrat and Chronicle, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the newspaper, its parent company Gannett Co. Inc., and another Gannett-owned publication, the Utica Observer-Dispatch. Bradley, a white male, alleges racial discrimination following his termination from the Democrat and Chronicle and subsequent rejection for a position at the Observer-Dispatch.

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The lawsuit, filed in Monroe County’s state Supreme Court on Friday, seeks class action status with Bradley as the named plaintiff. The suit accuses the defendants of discriminating against non-minority employees based on their race.

Bradley lives in Wayne County and is represented by the Thomas & Solomon LLP law firm. According to the complaint, Bradley had a distinguished career at the Democrat & Chronicle from 1999 to 2020, receiving numerous awards and recognitions.

The lawsuit claims that around 2020, Gannett implemented a policy to achieve inclusion quotas, committing to match employment demographics with the racial and ethnic demographics of the communities their newsrooms cover by 2025. Gannett managers were offered bonuses and promotions to staff newsrooms with employees of racial and ethnic backgrounds at rates comparable to local racial demographics. The suit alleges that this policy led to the termination of several highly qualified non-minority employees based on their race.

The lawsuit further claims that Bradley’s termination was a direct result of Gannett’s reverse race discrimination policy. In January 2021, Bradley applied for the executive editor position at the Observer-Dispatch. He was informed that he was one of two finalists, but later learned that a new candidate had been chosen. The selected candidate, Sheila Rayam, a Black female, allegedly did not initially express interest or apply for the position and had fewer qualifications than Bradley. The suit claims Gannett did not hire Bradley due to his race and sought a candidate who satisfied their quotas.