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Reporter Sunni Khalid files employment discrimination suit against NPR

Originally published in Current, Feb. 3, 1997

Sunni Khalid, who recently reported from the Middle East for NPR, has filed a racial and religious discrimination lawsuit against the network and its foreign desk editor, Loren Jenkins. Khalid is seeking more than $2 million in damages.

Khalid, an African-American and Muslim, charges that NPR failed to provide him the same assignments, compensation, promotions and support that it has given white reporters. This is the fifth discrimination suit to be brought against NPR since 1995.

NPR spokesperson Kathy Scott says Khalid is "interpreting our efforts to correct serious performance problems with racial discrimination, which we categorically deny and intend to fight in court...." NPR has removed Khalid from his foreign reporting position but offered him other jobs here, Scott says. Though his overseas contract is up, he remains an NPR employee.

As a result of Khalid's complaints prior to the suit, NPR brought in a team of investigators to explore the treatment of minorities in the newsroom. NPR's Scott wouldn't reveal the results of that investigation. But Khalid's lawyers say the report found longstanding discrimination at NPR. They also say that NPR's new human resources director, Kathleen Jackson, told the NPR Board that racism was "pervasive" in the newsroom, and that a two-tiered salary structure had been maintained, one for whites, one for African-Americans. Scott says that claim is "a bunch of baloney."

Khalid's suit charges that:

 

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Related article: Insiders speculate that minority staffing issue contributed to departure of NPR News chief.

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