Friday, September 29, 2023
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Ex-Worker Says CBS Had Segregated Lunchroom

BROOKLYN (CN) - A white CBS executive forced her black employees to eat in a separate cafeteria, a former employee claims in court.

Bennielee Berridge says she worked for CBS Broadcasting Inc. from 1997 to 2014, when she was fired.

She worked under Diane Togneri, who was the director of the network's Travel and Entertainment Department within CBS' accounting department in Manhattan, according to a 15-page lawsuit.

Berridge sued CBS and Togneri in Kings County, N.Y. Supreme Court on Monday. She says her boss was "social and amiable" to the other non-black workers in the department, but "avoided social interactions" with her black employees.

"Togneri, who acted in an intolerant and annoyed manner to the sounds of the voices of African Americans, caused the segregation and banishment of the employees of [the accounts payable department], a majority of whom were African American, from the department lunchroom, ultimately forcing those employees to eat in a separate lunchroom from the lunchroom that non-African American employees were permitted to use," the complaint states.

Berridge says she felt "humiliated, embarrassed, degraded, racially ostracized and unwelcome in the department lunchroom," causing her to eat lunch at her desk for the rest of her time at CBS.

Last year, Togneri gave her an "unwarranted negative performance review" and a lower raise than non-black employees, according to the complaint.

After Togneri encouraged her to quit working for CBS, Berridge was ultimately fired in November 2014 and replaced by a white employee, she claims.

"Plaintiff was shocked to hear this, as she had received no prior work-related write-ups and had been adequately performing all of the duties of her position," the complaint states.

Berridge wants her job back and punitive damages. She is represented by Mark Bierman in Manhattan.

CBS representatives did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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