Thewrap.com reports that Jarrett Gaeta is suing TMZ for wrongful termination, breach of contract, breach of good faith and emotional duress. In the suit, Gaeta claims he was unlawfully terminated from the site for racist behavior, which he denies. Prior to his ouster, Gaeta spent nearly seven years at TMZ. Since his firing, Gaeta claims he has been unsuccessful I finding work because of his damaged reputation.
The suit cites Sept. 2013 as the date TMZ hired an African-American male (AAM) to work for Gaeta. Soon after being hired, the man was found going through Gaeta’s cell phone to read his emails, according to Gaeta, who reported each incident to his superiors. As a result, the man was subsequently terminated.
Despite all signs looking like a closed case, things continued to fester regarding the case. As part of an internal TMZ investigation, into his employee’s alleged racist behavior, Gaeta was asked: ”Did you ask AAM whether he and other African-Americans were offended by blackface? Did you say ‘you black people are offended by every fucking thing. Oh no one can do blackface because it fucking offends you? You’re mentally fucked if you think that’s the least bit racist.’”
Other racist questions Gaeta is accused of asking include, “You all can call each other niggers but I can’t? You black people are so confused. First, you don’t want to [be] called African-American, then you don’t want to be referred to as niggers. What should we call you? Colored?”
In light of working together on a TMZ online story, the only thing Gaeta admitted to asking his former worker was “whether he and other African-Americans were offended by blackface.” Gaeta says he never asked the derogatory question or expressed other racist remarks, the Wrap reports.
Despite denying the conversation Gaeta stands accused of using AOL’s instant messaging service to send Internet links that include photographs of a gorilla, Bobby Brown, a map of the U.S. with Mississippi highlighted, slices of watermelon, cocoa butter cream and Samuel L. Jackson to the worker.
Labeling the accusations “comical,” Gaeta denied the allegations while later revealing that the same TMZ attorney who questioned him on the allegations, Jason Beckerman, called him back to say that he believed Gaeta but the company still had to terminate him. Beckerman went on to suggest that Gaeta hire a good labor attorney for his case.
Although he denied Gaeta’s claims, Gaeta pulled another rabbit out of the hat with allegations of Beckerman stating, ”Don’t you know we will probably have to settle with this kid for 6 figures? We had to do what we had to do.”
At this time, Beckerman nor TMZ have commented on the lawsuit. Gaeta is seeking unspecified damages and attorney’s fees.