AT&T Executive Fired Over Racist Texts Files Suit

Aaron Slator, AT&T’s former Head of Video Content and Advertising Sales filed suit against the company for breaching his employment contract and for defamation after his 2015 firing. The termination occurred during the regulatory review of AT&T’s $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV.  Legal counsel for the plaintiff filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County court arguing that the former executive was cleared during the investigation of allegedly racist text messages discovered on his phone by his executive assistance in 2013. Slator was fired over the incident in 2015 after another executive assistant filed a discrimination and harassment lawsuit. 

Slator claims that AT&T advised him of their thorough investigation of the 2013 incident and assured him his job was secure. Two years later Slator was fired without any new evidence, new allegations, or new investigations into the matter. AT&T defends its actions insisting that diversity and inclusion are core values that are important to the company. They feel strongly about the situation and stand behind their termination of Slator and feel that his allegations are baseless and will result in a dismissal.

Slator’s firing made headlines across the country. He was the head of content acquisition and advertising for AT&T’s cable TV, broadband Internet, and wireless Internet services. He was also involved in the DirecTV acquisition, approved by the FCC and completed in 2015. In the lawsuit, Slator alleges that his executive assistant filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2013 alleging rampant racial discrimination by AT&T executives (listing Slator by name). Allegations included a detailed description of the racist text messages found on Slator’s phone. But AT&T’s internal investigation concluded that there was no discrimination.

Slator claims that he offered to resign, but was assured by AT&T that doing so was not necessary. He completed advisory training with an equal employment opportunity consultant in 2014. Yet the original allegations from the 2013 incident resurfaced in the 2015 lawsuit filed by a different executive assistant. Simultaneously, AT&T was sued by a unit of Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios for alleged discrimination against African-American-owned media companies. Slator’s legal counsel points to the intense public and legal scrutiny resulting from this situation when claiming that AT&T needed someone to take the blame and that the someone became Slator. The executive assistant’s claims were dismissed in California Superior Court, but this did not occur until months after Slator’s termination.

If you have been wrongfully terminated or if you know someone who has been wrongfully terminated, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.