Al Jazeera America Seeks Deal With Ex-Veep

     MANHATTAN (CN) — Weeks after Al Jazeera America got sued by its vice president in April of this year, the network shut down for good, but the active racial discrimination lawsuit may now be heading toward a settlement.
     At a brief hearing Friday morning, the defunct channel’s attorney Joseph Guarino said that any signature on such a deal would still be a long way away.
     “I don’t think we’re there, yet,” Guarino told a federal judge Friday, when asked whether to send the case to a magistrate.
     Anand Gupta, Al Jazeera America’s Indian former executive vice president of finance, calls himself the only ex-employee of South Asian descent who served in one of the network’s 17 leadership positions.
     Among the others, white employees held 12 spots, two were black, and two were Arab-American, according to his 32-page complaint.
     Well before the lawsuit was filed, Al Jazeera America’s white CEO Al Antsey announced the network would close because the U.S. media market could not sustain it. But Gupta claims that he knew from managing Al Jazeera America’s finances that its business model was by no means unsustainable.
     “In April 2015, just one month before Anstey took over as CEO, Al Shihabi submitted a business plan to senior managers at [the parent company Al Jazeera Media Network] and received their approval,” the complaint states. “This plan would have ensured AJAM’s continued survival through 2020, at which point AJAM expected to receive significant advertising revenue. In large part, Gupta’s successful efforts to reduce AJAM’s costs made this business plan possible.”
     In fact, Gupta claims that the network had been in “good financial shape” before Anstey took over.
     What changed, in Gupta’s view, is unclear from the heavily redacted complaint. The next paragraph of the lawsuit is entirely blacked out.
     How much the public will learn about the final days of Al Jazeera America and its treatment of its top executive remains to be seen, as the parties confirmed in court that settlement discussions are still underway.
     “We’re still talking, Your Honor,” Guarino told U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni.
     In the meanwhile, discovery in the case continues, which may include the depositions of executives until Feb. 3, 2017.
     The parties will meet again one week later, on Feb. 10.
     Both of the parties declined to comment after the brief hearing, but Gupta’s lawyer Jeremiah Iadevaia confirmed to Courthouse News that his client is currently unemployed.

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