Cablevision sues CWA for defamation
Michelle Clancy
| 28 September 2014
Cablevision Systems Corp has filed a lawsuit against the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1109 in Brooklyn.

The suit also names senior union official Chris Shelton, and former Cablevision employee Jerome Thompson, and was filed in New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County.

The lawsuit contends that the defendants “knowingly and repeatedly made defamatory and false statements,” including accusations of racist actions, “designed to damage” Cablevision's reputation and its business.

"The CWA union is knowingly disseminating false and defamatory statements in an attempt to negatively impact Cablevision's business and damage the reputation of the company and its employees,” the company said in its official statement. “The CWA's desperate campaign is designed to spread lies and misinformation to Cablevision's customers, elected officials and the public at large. It is clear that the CWA will stop at nothing to advance its selfish interests and we are asking the court to put an immediate halt to their unlawful and malicious activities."

The complaint asserts that the CWA has engaged in an unlawful campaign to discredit and libel Cablevision and its business. Specifically, Cablevision states that the CWA and the other defendants have made a series of false and malicious statements to Cablevision employees, customers, elected officials and the public concerning the company's termination of Jerome Thompson's employment in an effort to damage Cablevision's reputation.

Union activist Thompson, a union activist, was fired by Cablevision on 20 August. He claims that the termination was a retaliatory act, after he made comments that likened the cable company’s treatment of its unionised employees in Brooklyn to slavery.

Not so, Cablevision said.

“Mr Thompson was terminated for years-long history of deliberate disregard for company policies – conduct no employer would tolerate,” Cablevision said. “The CWA was well aware that Mr Thompson's repeated misconduct resulted in his termination but instead chose to falsely claim that this action was racially motivated. The CWA and other defendants have used social media, online petitions, leaflets and letters to public officials to knowingly spread this false information.”

The company is seeking injunctive relief against the defendants' social and community-based protests.

Employees in Brooklyn voted to unionise in 2012. Now, the CWA represents about 264 individuals in Brooklyn, while 14,000 other Cablevision employees have no union representation and have a direct relationship with the company. inShare0