Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc., 2016 WL 7217201 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016)

Stanley Wilson alleged discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and defamation against CNN, et al., where he worked as a television producer before his employment was terminated following an audit of his work involving suspected plagiarism.  Defendants answered the complaint and then filed a special motion to strike all causes of action pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16 (the “anti-SLAPP” statute) on the ground that all of their staffing decisions (including those involving Wilson) were acts in furtherance of CNN’s right of free speech that were “necessarily ‘in connection’ with a matter of public interest – news stories relating to current events and matters of interest to CNN’s news consumers.” The trial court granted CNN’s anti-SLAPP motion and dismissed the lawsuit, but the Court of Appeal reversed, rejecting the characterization of defendants’ allegedly discriminatory and retaliatory conduct as mere “staffing decisions” in furtherance of their free speech rights to determine who shapes the way they present news stories. See also Armin v. Riverside Community Hosp., 5 Cal. App. 5th 810 (2016) (physician’s religious discrimination claims against hospital employer were not barred by the anti-SLAPP statute).