Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 4   September 2011

Native American ex-NBC employee suing for harassment
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INSULTED: This doll was given to a former NBC staffer by a co-worker who said, 'You both have the same hair,' a suit charges.A Native American studio technician has filed a lawsuit against NBC.  Faruq "Peter" Wells -- who worked on the "Today" show, "Dr.  Oz" and "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" -- says co-workers tormented him about his ethnicity.

Faruq says it began in June, 2009, after he returned to work from an Arizona vacation.  Colleague Rich Citelli told him to look on the desk of another co-worker, Evelyn Cordero. There he saw a "dark-skinned female doll adorned in traditional Native American clothing."

Citelli then showed him cellphone images of the doll strung up in Christmas lights with a Post-it note that read, "Baby Wells."

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was extremely upset. I felt I was made to be a laughingstock," Wells said. "I went right to my supervisors and showed them the picture and said, 'What is this?' One said to me, 'I told her not to put it up.' "

I asked, 'Who is she?' He said, 'Evelyn [Cordero].' I was shocked because I didn't expect that from her," Wells said. 

Hours later, the suit claims, a still-reeling Wells became the butt of sleazy joke. One co-worker said "you both have the same hair." 

Coredo then asked, "Hey, Pete, do you have any illegitimate children?" She put the doll on his workspace and said, "Look, it's got your DNA, skin color and you both have the same hair.  It's braided just like yours," the suit charges. 

But the worst indignity came when someone pelted him with the doll and barked, "Here's your long-lost daughter!" the papers say. 

Faruq 'Peter' WellsWells went to his union rep the next day, then explained the incident to Human Resources. Two days later, he found a block of fake cheese in the common area signifying that he was "a rat," according to the suit. 

"[HR] called me after a week and told me to return to work and not talk about what happened," Wells said.

Wells stayed away during an investigation. Six weeks later, no action had been taken.  Fed up, he quit in August, 2009, after three years at NBC. 

Wells' lawyer, Matthew Blit, said, "They are very creative racists.  Unfortunately, I've seen some horrific cases, and this is definitely one of them."

NBCUniversal said in a statement:

We take all allegations of harassment and discrimination seriously.  At the time of the 2009 incident, the company conducted a thorough and independent investigation and disciplined employees who had behaved inappropriately.  The EEOC reviewed Wells’ complaint and NBCUniversal’s response and declined to take any further action. 

 We believe that NBCUniversal took appropriate actions in 2009 and that the lawsuit is without merit.  

Well's lawsuit was filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court. 


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