WPIX cameraman fired over 'false' racism accusations: lawsuit
A WPIX cameraman was fired after a Muslim anchorwoman and other station staffers falsely accused him of racism and Islamaphobia, he claims in an explosive lawsuit.
“I feel heartbroken and morally and professionally violated,” Ken Evseroff, 52, told The Post.
In October 2018 Narmeen Choudhury, who had worked with Evseroff in the field as a reporter when not filling in on the anchor desk, first complained to the station’s human resources department about Evseroff.
The Queens-born Choudhury, 38, a Muslim Bangladeshi-American and mother of two who has worked at WPIX since 2011, claimed the white Evseroff made “rude, racist and/or sexist comments” during nearly every assignment they worked together, according to HR documents.
But the cameraman wasn’t canned until last fall. On Sept. 11, 2019, the 18th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, Evseroff shared a widely-distributed meme on Facebook about Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s controversial description of the terror attack as “some people did something,” according to the lawsuit.
The meme featured the words “‘Never Forget’ – You said” over a picture of the burning Twin Towers, juxtaposed with a snap of Omar in a hijab and the phrase, “I am the proof – You have forgotten.”
Another WPIX colleague alerted the station to the post. Evseroff claimed it was just a news story he was sharing, and he “had no opinion about it,” according to HR records.
But the station deemed the Facebook post a violation of the company’s social media policy, saying it gave WPIX owner Tribune Media a black eye because it could be “perceived” as racist.
“I love my job. I am good at my job. I love telling stories to change lives. I was honest, upfront, and open as sharing the meme as a news story. I told the truth and when they didn’t like my truth they invented their own,” Evseroff, who worked for WPIX since 1997, told The Post.
He believes his troubles began with Choudhury and that her “false” HR complaints the year before were the “predicate” for his firing, according to court papers.
The Channel 11 journalist alleged Evseroff made “rude remarks” about “black people and poor people” and the neighborhoods the pair reported from, according to the documents.
“I never said anything racist or sexist to [Choudhury] or online,” Evseroff claimed in an interview.
Choudhury and a WPIX general manager declined to comment.
The anchorwoman also mentioned that Evseroff was developing a video game. In the game, Choudhury allegedly claimed, the game player is a shooter who resembles Evseroff and targets characters who look like Muslims and people “in the financial industry.” She said this would “fit … [her] husband’s background,” according to the HR records. Evseroff denies his game characters have such traits.
The station’s investigation found no one echoed the anchor’s complaints at the time, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed against the station by the cameraman Saturday.
But HR records show in the year after Choudhury’s gripes, two other female coworkers came forward with “similar” complaints, and Evseroff was warned to “keep your comments to yourself.” The cameraman claims none of his other colleagues complained.
While WPIX fired Evseroff for sharing content “on his own time, from his own computer, and from his own home,” according to his legal filing, the station failed to fire a Latino reporter who tweeted a message of “threatened violence against President Trump.”
The station’s treatment of the two men showed a “clear disparity,” said Evseroff’s attorney, Andrew Laufer.
The cameraman was never given the company’s social media policy, the lawyer said, adding there is “no basis” for bias complaints against his client. Evseroff seeks unspecified damages in his lawsuit, which accuses the station of slander.