Two former camera operators for The Tonight Show are claiming that Questlove got them fired over a racist group text that they were included in against their wishes.
According to TMZ, Kurt Decker and Michael Cimino have filed a lawsuit against Questlove and the network claiming that they were fired over something they had no control over and that racial animus was to blame. Decker and Cimino ― who are white ― allege that their race played a part in the decision to fire them after they received a text from another crew member.
TMZ reports that a stagehand sent a racist text to Decker, Cimino, and Roots member Mark Kelley during a taping. Cimino and Decker claimed that they explained this story to NBC executives in order to put some distance between themselves and the text they say they never responded to.
However, Questlove caught wind the text and allegedly demanded that the camera operators be fired.
The lawsuit claims that their race explicitly led to their being let go. They say that the Roots’ drummer “pressured NBC to fire all the Caucasian employees involved in the incident.” Mark Kelley, who plays in the The Roots and is black, was not punished over the message.
NBC has released a statement saying that Questlove had nothing to do with their dismissal.
“NBC is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity,” they said. “We have strong policies in place that protect against discrimination in any form. The decision about these plaintiffs was the company’s alone.”
Questlove’s representative also spoke to the gossip website and took umbrage at the notion that his client’s actions were racist.
“Racism is REAL and exists throughout the world and for these gentlemen to claim victim is not only disrespectful to Questlove and his band mates, but to all that truly endure racism on a daily basis,” they said.