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People magazine sued for race discrimination by former Senior Editor

Tatsha Robertson, a former Senior Editor for People magazine, has sued People and its parent company, Time, Inc., for race discrimination.  Robertson, who is African American, alleges that People Magazine laid her off because of her race.

According to Robertson’s lawsuit, “behind the cover and pages of People magazine, is a discriminatory organization run entirely by white people who intentionally focus the magazine on stories involving White people and White celebrities.”  The lawsuit goes on to cite examples of stories that People decided not to publish because they did not concern “white middle class suburbia.”  According to the lawsuit, Robertson was the only African American Senior Editor, among eight Senior Editors, at People and the only African American to ever serve in that position in the history of People magazine.  Moreover, she alleges that there were no African Americans in leadership positions above her at People.

Robertson, an award winning editor, began to work for Time at another one of its magazines, Essence.  While Robertson worked at Essence, according to the lawsuit, Essence published multiple stories related to President Obama and First Lady Obama as well as other presidential candidates during the 2008 presidential campaign.  Before this, according to the lawsuit, People had always been recognized for its coverage of the White House and, for that reason, in 2009, Time’s Human Resources department recruited Robertson to move from Essence to People.

At People, Robertson worked under Executive Editor, Betsy Gleick, who does not work for People any more.  Before Robertson accepted the offer to go to People, another editor at Time warned Robertson that several African Americans have had problems with Gleick and that some African Americans have struggled with the “culture” of People.  Not long after Robertson began to work at People, she alleges that Gleick told her to talk “like everyone else” at People because she was not “at Essence anymore.”

Robertson worked under these conditions until May of 2014 when People decided to layoff Robertson.  Robertson was the only Senior Editor laid off. Despite the working conditions prior to her layoff, Robertson maintains that she continued to do outstanding work which yielded multiple awards.  Other less experienced white employees have now allegedly assumed Robertson’s former job responsibilities.

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