Gay Ex-CNN Employee Sues Network After Termination for 'Flamboyant' Attire

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com May 23 2014 2:06 PM ET

A former CNN employee, who claims he was fired for being “too flamboyant,” has filed a $60 million discrimination lawsuit against the news network.

William Kane, a microphone technician who began working CNN in 2002, is claiming that his supervisor, who cited to Kane’s colorful wardrobe as the reason for termination, fired him last June only after he discovered Kane was gay.

“It really saddens me,” Kane told the New York Daily News. “I feel like the Rosa Parks of CNN. Maybe someone else won’t have to suffer the way I have.”

The 33-year-old gay man, whose husband is Mexican, says he had been told by his supervisor, John Silva, on the street near their workplace that he should not wear his black or yellow mariachi suits in the newsroom, “because it was too flamboyant for a male in our department.” Silva added that Kane’s attire might make him a better fit in the “entertainment or makeup department.”

Kane asserts that the “flamboyant” comment was rooted in a gay stereotype, as it had followed the announcement of his engagement to his partner. Kane, who frequently wore brightly colored clothing to work, like mariachi and track suits, says he had worn the mariachi suits without issue in the past, noting that his department had a custom in the past of wearing colorful attire every Thursday.

He maintains that reaction among the newsroom to his style was favorable. Reporter Christiane Amanpour tweeted a photograph of herself smiling with Kane in the mariachi suit in question, and CNN news anchor Erin Burnett even said that he was the “best-dressed man” on set, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint also states that gay CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, having seen Silva upbraiding Kane for wearing a colorful track suit, gave Kane his email address and asked him “to email him details of the nature of being bullied by his supervisor.”

The network says a compliant filed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was dismissed, but Kane says he received a Notice of Right to Sue from the federal law enforcement agency, which outlined his right to file a private lawsuit in federal court.