Keno V. Thomas

Keno V. Thomas

*A former Starz executive claims in a lawsuit that he was fired in retaliation for complaining of racial and gender discrimination at the network, as well as what he describes as unethical and illegal conduct, according to Deadline.

Keno V. Thomas, who says he was the lone senior African-American VP at the company, claims his termination came after he voiced concerns about possible “insider manipulation,” among other things. Starz disputes the allegations.

Thomas also claims that he and his staff were told to “arbitrarily inflate the revenue figures and subscriber numbers because the optics did not look good,” but he “adamantly refused.”
Thomas claims that he was terminated after taking a three-week medical leave, and was told his firing was due to industry consolidation, even though his was the only position in his department eliminated, according to the complaint.

In a statement, a Starz spokeswoman said, “Normally, we would not comment on pending litigation, and, in this instance, the company has not even been served.

In his lawsuit, Thomas said that as the only senior African-American executive at the company, he was an advocate for diversity but was subjected “to ridicule” when he made a priority of hiring women and minorities. His suit states that the cable and satellite industry’s “push towards industry consolidation through mergers and acquisitions have only further hampered opportunities for minorities and women.”

In addition to Starz, the lawsuit – filed in Los Angeles Superior Court – names as defendants Liberty Media, Starz’s former parent company; CEO Chris Albrecht; and Michael Thornton, the company’s chief revenue officer. According to the lawsuit, Thornton was Thomas’ supervisor.

In a statement, a Starz spokeswoman said, “Normally, we would not comment on pending litigation, and, in this instance, the company has not even been served.

“However, based on reading the complaint in the press, rest assured that Starz, as well as the other defendants cited, will defend themselves vigorously against these scurrilous, unsubstantiated and offensive attacks by a disgruntled former employee.”