The tastelessness of two radio DJs in California is creating some bad repercussions up the Disney chain -- in the form, most recently, of a racial-discrimination lawsuit filed against the Walt Disney Co. on Sept. 2 over its role in a radio-promotion giveaway of free gardening tools. The merchandise was called "black hoes." Real funny, huh?
Disney issued an apology on Aug. 24 for the promotion that aired for about six weeks during the nationally syndicated "Mark & Brian Show," which originates from KLOS-FM in Los Angeles, a Disney-owned station. The apology referred to the campaign as inappropriate and unacceptable. But civil-rights groups, including Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, rejected the company's apology and are calling for a national boycott.
Their complaints will get added fuel from the lawsuit filed by KLOS account executive Carla Woodson, who says she was harassed and retaliated against for complaining about the promotion. She's the second black employee of the station to make this claim. KLOS's traffic manager filed a similar suit on Aug. 6.
Steven M. Bornstein, president of ABC, the Disney subsidiary that produces the show, issued a statement in which he said the promotion "could be viewed as offensive and derogatory." He also said that "we disciplined those who were directly responsible." But according to the Los Angeles Times, Woodson's suit contends that Disney didn't discipline any of the managers who approved and budgeted the campaign. Rather, the suit contends, several of the station's executives have been promoted.